What is bullying?

Bullying is when a person or group of people deliberately use their power over another person to make that person feel upset, angry or afraid.

‘Bullying is big kids on little kids’ Yamaji parent/carer
‘Bullying means picking on someone for fun’ Yamaji parent/carer
‘Bullying starts as teasing and leads to more serious bullying’ Yamaji AIEO (ATA or AEW)

More about bullying

  • Bullying can start when a kid is ‘picked on’ by another kid or by a group. The kid being picked on may not be able to stop the bullying from happening and others may not help.
  • Bullying is when a person or group of people use their power over another person to make that person feel upset, angry or afraid no matter what age or size they are.
  • The bullying will continue if the kids doing the bullying don’t care about the kid they are hurting, and especially if nobody stops them.
  • Being bullied can make someone feel alone, sad, angry, scared or confused. If you are being bullied, it is usually not your fault and there is nothing wrong with you.
  • Don’t be afraid to let someone know that you are being bullied because they may be able to help you. Sometimes you may need to keep telling until someone helps you.

What are the different types of bullying?

Ways that Yamaji kids yarn about bullying:

Physical bullying

Smashing, hitting, pinching, biting, pushing, pulling, shoving, slapping, punching, choking, kicking, double banking, tripping, scratching, throwing things at someone else

Body language

Bullying can be done by gestures:

It can just be a dirty look.

It might be a sly smile to mean that something is wrong.

 Verbal bullying

    • ‘What’s your go?’
    • Running someone down
    • Carrying yarns
    • Calling someone names
    • Chipping
    • Jarring
    • Teasing someone in a mean and hurtful way
    • Being sarcastic in a hurtful way


  • Telling someone you’re going to get your family involved, like your Brothers and sisters, cousins, parents, carers, nana, aunties or uncles
  • Making someone feel scared of you
  • Telling someone you are going to hurt them
  • Yarning to get someone into trouble
  • Forcing someone to do your schoolwork or homework for you
  • Forcing someone to break the law like stealing or damaging someone’s stuff
  • Teasing someone in a mean and hurtful way
  • Being sarcastic in a hurtful way

Property abuse

  • taking someone else’s stuff
  • breaking or damaging someone else’s belongings
  • stealing someone else’s money

Emotional bullying

  • getting kids into trouble or wrong situations
  • ignoring someone or keeping them out of group conversations (known as exclusion)
  • making fun of someone’s appearance or body odour
  • trying to get others to dislike someone or not have anything to do with them
  • carrying yarns about someone
  • trying to get other kids to harm someone

Sexual bullying

  • touching someone when they don’t want to be
  • pressuring someone to do things that they don’t want to do with their body or with someone else’s body
  • making sexual comments about the way someone looks or behaves
  • trying to get others to dislike someone or not have anything to do with them
  • carrying yarns about someone
  • trying to get other kids to harm someone

Racist bullying

  • making racial comments about someone and/or their family, such as telling someone they aren’t Aboriginal enough or that they’re trying to be or act ‘white’
  • making rude gestures or jokes about someone’s religion
  • making comments about the way someone’s features look compared to others (e.g. big lips, curly hair)

 Cyber bullying

  • uploading videos of other people on social network internet sites, such as Bebo, MySpace, YouTube and Facebook
  • sending harassing or abusive emails
  • Making prank or abusive phone calls
  • sending someone offensive texts (SMS) or multimedia messages (MMS) by mobile phone
  • carrying yarns through chat rooms, by email, by SMS and MMS, or on Twitter
  • posting insulting messages in chat rooms and on social network sites

Being picked on

Being picked on is part of being bullied. Sometimes it’s hard to work out why kids pick on other kids. It could be because:

  • Someone is thought to be winyarn
  • Someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time
  • Someone is different (taller, fatter, darker or lighter skinned, smarter, weaker or slower)
  • Someone seems easy to frighten or upset
  • Someone is smaller or younger

 Is teasing always bullying?

Teasing that is done in fun, when both the person teasing and the person being teased are involved in the joke and are happy, is not bullying. However, teasing that is done in a mean and hurtful way and involves one person upsetting another person is wrong. If a person keeps teasing someone else to upset them, it is bullying.

Sometimes a friend might laugh along with you when you tease them, but may actually be hurt or upset by your comments. You must always think about how your comments might affect the other person and about how you would feel if it was said to you.

What is a bystander ?

Bystanders are people who see, support or know the bullying is going on.

Bystanders can be:

  • The friends of the kid bullying
  • The friends of the kid being bullied
  • Kids who see the bullying happening
  • Kids who know about the bullying

Bystander graphic adapted from Erceg and Cross (2004). Friendly Schools and Families Project: Classroom Teaching & Learning, Handbook Level 5. Child Health Promotion Research Unit: Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

Kids who bully feel powerful when Bystanders give them attention.

Kids tell us they don’t like seeing bullying happen. It is important to tell someone if you see or know bullying is happening.

Why does bullying hurt?

Bullying can make kids feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. Kids say that seeing bullying happen at school makes them feel sad and uncomfortable. Kids who bully others also have problems and are unhappy as well. Bullying isn’t good for anyone.

Bullying can cause physical injury, stress and fear, or make you feel as if you are all alone. You may feel:

  • Like you are to blame, or feel like you deserve to be bullied
  • Stuck because you can’t change what is happening
  • Like you don’t fit in
  • Left out
  • Depressed
  • Like you have to put yourself down in front of others to fit in
  • Like the names people call you are true and start to believe what they say about you
  • Unsafe or afraid
  • Confused and stressed
  • Shame for yourself because:
    • Of your family
    • Because you’re a boy or a girl
    • Because you are Aboriginal
    • Because you are dark or fair
  • Shame, because others think you are trying to be better than them when you have something new or solid

If you are being bullied, it is important to remember that bullying is you’re your fault and that you never deserve to be bullied. Dealing with these feelings can be hard and getting help is one way to deal with these feelings.

 Remember it’s really important to tell someone. If you feel there isn’t anyone you can talk to, you can try KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800

Why does bullying happen?

  • To get a sense of power among their classmates
  • To get attention or become popular
  • To get things they want
  • To copy another person they admire
  • To make themselves feel better when they are feeling bad about themselves or jealous of someone else
  • Because they feel that another person is becoming more popular than they are in their group

Think about these things

  • To stop bullying we first need to understand why people bully others. It is often thought that children who bully are naughty or have problems at school. But some people who bully are popular students with good skills.
  • Sometimes people don’t realise that what they are doing is bullying behaviour and that it is hurting others.
  • Some students who bully are lacking attention, power or love and by bullying they are trying to get these things in their lives.
  • Kids are bullied for lots of reasons. Sometimes they’re bullied because they are different, or because they’re clever or popular, or simply because they are in the wrong place at the wrong time.

Why most students don’t bully others?

  • They have good social (friend) skills – they can make friends and be happy without bullying
  • They think bullying is wrong – they would feel ashamed of themselves and their parents and carers would be really upset with them, if they bullied
  • They don’t feel they need to bully – they feel good about themselves and enjoy school so they don’t feel the need to bully
  • They are too busy to think about it – they are involved in activities and are enjoying what they are doing so they are usually not interested in bullying
  • They have strong, supportive friendships groups – they are far less likely to bully or be bullied
  • They believe that bullying isn’t worth it – they know the consequences will be bad, such as getting into trouble at school and at home and/or looking bad to friends, family or teachers

Myths and facts about bullying

  • Myth – Sometimes kids believe it is okay to bully because they have grown up with violence or harassment in their lives and have come to believe this is a normal way of relating to others.
  • Fact – These kids need help to learn how to get on with others and develop healthy and happy relationships.
  • Myth – Some kids believe that it is okay to bully kids who are different from them, such as kids from different races and cultures, kids with disabilities, and kids who look different.
  • Fact – All students are different from one another and all should be treated equally, with respect and understanding.
  • Myth – Some kids bully others because it makes them feel more powerful and in control.
  • Fact – Feeling good about bullying will not make you feel better. Kids who bully are not happy, don’t feel good about themselves, and are often not liked by other kids.
  • Myth – Some kids think its okay to pick on smaller or younger kids.
  • Fact – It is never okay to pick on someone smaller or younger; if you are older or bigger, you should look out for and protect those kids.

If you are frightened for getting bullied, you can:

Talk to your AIEO (ATA or AEW), the school support person, a teacher or a staff member you feel comfortable with. The school cannot do anything about the bullying if they don’t know about it. If you are a bit nervous about talking to a teacher, take a friend with you.

Your parents and carers need to know. Tell your parents and carers or another adult you trust. Sometimes kids feel shame telling adults about bullying. Don’t be. Usually your family is the best to tell because they can help you work out the best way to get the bullying to stop.

Talk to a friend or another student you trust. Ask for advice or just talk to them about how you feel. When you tell someone about bullying, you are helping to protect others as well as yourself.

If you are frightened of being bullied, and feel like you have no one to talk to, you can try KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800. It is really important to share with someone what is happening.

Help! I am being bullied now

We know how awful bullying can be and how hard it can be to talk about it. We also know that there are things you can do to make it stop. It is always the right thing to ask for help or support if you feel you can’t deal with the situation yourself.

What to do when bullying is happening 
If you feel you can’t do anything to stop bullying, try these tips:

  • Stay calm – the person bullying you will be less likely to continue if you act like what they are doing does not upset you.
  • Calmly move away from the person or people – try to ignore the person bullying you by calmly walking away.
  • If they try to stop or block you, be firm and clear – look confident and tell them to stop.
  • Don’t fight back – fighting back could make the situation worse; you could get hurt or be blamed for starting the trouble.
  • Tell an adult what has happened straight away.

I am being teased

People who tease to make others feel bad want the person they are teasing to get upset or angry and fight back. This is the reaction they are looking for and this is what will keep them going.

Taking the sting out of teasing

  • Ignore it – the person teasing you wants you to get upset, so ignore them.
  • Stay calm – if you are nasty to the person (or their friends), you will be doing what they are doing to you and this will only make things worse.
  • Don’t say too much – keep your response short and don’t get into an argument.
  • Be cool if you want to say something back – stand up straight, speak clearly and look confident even if you aren’t.
  • Speak and move on – say your piece then walk away, ignoring any other comments.
  • Know when to walk away – if you are getting upset or scared, it is better to simply walk away and get help from someone else.

I am being cyber bullied (computer or phone)

Cyber bullying is when you are being bullied by mobile phone, text messages, email, on social network sites, or in chat rooms. If this is happening to you, it is important to do the following:

  • Make a copy of the message and save it
  • Block the sender and report them to the internet service provider
  • Tell someone in your family or teacher straight away
  • Be careful to only give your mobile phone number or email address to someone you trust

I am feeling winyarn

Bullying can make you feel bad. It can sometimes make you feel like it’s your fault that someone is bullying you. It’s not! There are things you can do. Here are some tips for staying safe.

Ways to stay safe if you are worried for getting bullied

  • Try not to be alone – stay in safe areas of the school during breaks and lunchtimes where there are plenty of other people. This might stop the person from bullying you until you talk to an adult.
  • Stay calm – if you don’t act upset or react the way they want you to, they might get bored and stop.
  • Talk to an adult you trust AIEO (ATA or AEW) or someone in your family) – keep talking to them even if you think the bullying has stopped.
  • Sit near the driver – see if you can walk with other people who live near you even if they are older or younger.
  • Walking home – say your piece then walk away, ignoring any other comments.
  • Think positively – you are a good person; remind yourself of your strengths and the things you are good at.

Am I bullying?

Sometimes kids bully without knowing they are doing it or that they may be hurting someone else.

  • If you are unsure, ask yourself:
  • Are my actions or words hurting someone else’s feelings?
  • Are my actions hurting someone else physically?
  • Are my actions or words making someone else feel afraid?
  • Am I trying to control someone else?
  • Am I deliberately taking out my feelings of anger or frustration on someone else?
  • Would I like it if someone did this to me again and again?
  • If you think you might be bullying someone, try talking to a trusted adult about how you can make the situation better.

Who can I ask for help?

Asking for help or talking to someone about it is not being weak or ‘giving in’. There are many people who might be able to help, including friends, older brothers and sisters, teachers, AIEO’s, aunties, nanas, mum and dad, or counsellors.

Asking for help at school

Don’t let the bullying go on. Teachers can’t do anything about bullying if they don’t know about it. Take a friend with you if you are a bit nervous about talking to a teacher.

 Who can I talk to at school if I am being bullied?

  • Talk to the AIEO (ATA or AEW).
  • Talk to another teacher or a staff member you feel comfortable with.
  • Tell someone in your family or another adult you trust. Sometimes kids feel shame when telling adults about bullying. Don’t. Usually your families are the best people to tell because they will help you work out the best way to get the bullying to stop.
  • Talk to a friend or another student you trust. Ask for advice or just talk to them about how you feel.

Who else can I talk to?

You might find it helpful to talk to someone who doesn’t work at your school or belong to your family, like:

  • A youth worker
  • A sports coach
  • A shop lady
  • Another trusted adult

Remember: Telling someone that you are being bullied is NOT telling tales or dobbing.

  • ‘Dobbing’ is when a person tries to get attention or to get someone else into trouble.
  • Asking for help is when someone feels the situation is out of his or her control and he or she is unable to deal with it alone. If you see someone else in this situation you should also ask for help.
  • Asking for help is always okay. By telling someone, you are helping protect others as well as yourself from bullying.

What you can do

If you do feel any of these things, it is important to remember that bullying is not your fault and that you never deserve to be bullied. It is really important to talk to someone about what is going on. If you feel there isn’t anyone you can talk to, try KIDS HELPLINE – 1800 55 1800