Bullies seek to hurt others for different reasons. Some think it is fun and are looking for a laugh, others are simply bored. Some bullies think it will make them popular, fit in with a group or fear that, if they don’t go along, they will become the next target. Others want power.
Sometimes, bullying is a way for perpetrators take their frustration and anger out on others or seek revenge.
Bullying can not only occur within the school community, it can also occur in the home between siblings or by a young person bullying a parent, especially their mother. Bullying has direct links to domestic and family violence. Also, the likelihood a young person bullying others may increase if they see one parent subjected to abuse and violence by the other parent or partner.
Bullying can include any of the following:
- name calling
- making fun of or humiliating an individual
- deliberately excluding someone from groups or activities
- making negative comments about a person’s race, sex or sexuality
- pushing, hitting or being violent in some other way
- making threats or saying things to scare someone
- forcing someone to do silly or dangerous things
- damaging, hiding or breaking a person’s things
- demanding money, food or other items
- belittling someone’s abilities and achievements
- writing insulting or spiteful notes or graffiti
- making fun of a person’s appearance
- posting offensive messages on social networking sites
- sending malicious or threatening text messages.
Bullying can happen anywhere: out of school, in the school grounds, in the toilets, going to and from school, in the classroom, by mobile phone or over the internet.
Bullying must be treated seriously. It can amount to a criminal offense when there is physical violence, intimidation or threats made to harm you.
Bullying happens a lot in Australian schools. Research suggests that about one in five students have been bullied or harassed at some stage of their time at school.
Tell someone what is happening to you.
If you are being bullied at school, or outside school, tell someone about what is happening to you. You can do any of the following:
- talk to the school counsellor and ask them to help you do something about it
- tell your parents so they can talk to the school about it
- tell your teachers or the principal, so they can talk to and identify the best approach to dealing with the bully/bullies and the bullying behaviour.
- keep telling people until someone helps you.
If you have a friend that is being bullied, try to support them. Talk to them about what is happening and ask them if you can help them to do something about it. You could offer to go with them to talk to the school counsellor, the teacher or the principal.
- You can also call the Kids Helpline, a counselling service specifically for people aged between 5 and 25, on 1800 55 1800.
Make a Formal Complaint to the School
Your school has a duty to make sure that students are not bullied or harassed and that it is a safe place for you to be. If telling people is not enough to stop the bully’s behaviour, you can make a formal complaint to the school. Ask your parents or a trusted adult to help make the complaint, if you need to.
Get Legal Advice
If the school cannot or will not stop the bullying, you can contact a community legal centre and get legal advice. This is a free and confidential service.
For contact details of the National Children’s & Youth Law Centre go to www.lawstuff.org.au
Call the Police
If someone has been physically or sexually violent towards you, has threatened to be physically or sexually violent towards you or has damaged or stolen your property, you can involve the police.
These behaviours are against the law and if the bully is over 10 years of age, they could be charged or given a warning by the police.
For further information, go to:
Bullying No Way! www.bullyingnoway.com.au