Preventing bullying

Whole-school approaches to preventing bullying focus on a supportive, caring, respectful teaching and learning community.

Understanding bullying

Bullying has three key features. It:

  1. involves a misuse of power in a relationship.
  2. is intentional, ongoing and repeated.
  3. involves behaviours that can cause harm.

Bullying can be physical, verbal, or social. Bullying can be easy to see (overt), or hidden (covert), such as spreading rumours about another person or excluding them.

Bullying can also happen online using technology such as the internet or mobile devices. This is known as online bullying or cyberbullying.

A person can be bullied about many different things such as ​how they look, sound or speak; their background, religion, race or culture including Aboriginality; having a disability; their sex; because they are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex (LGBTI); their size or body shape or any other ways they may be  different.

Some students are bullied about their academic or sporting achievements or hobbies.

What bullying is not

A single incident or disagreement between peers is not bullying. However, these behaviours may lead to bullying and should be resolved.

In the classroom

Teaching and supporting diversity in the classroom.

On the playground

A whole-school approach to preventing bullying behaviour on the playground and other environments.


Recognising and responding to online bullying and related resources for educators.

Student voice

How to encourage student voice and turn bystanders into upstanders.

Use STEPS to choose the right approach for your school

There is a wide range of frameworks, strategies, resources and programs available to schools which aim to counter bullying. Some have a strong theoretical base and are designed for sustainable implementation in schools. Others lack any theory or evidence and do not align with the Australian educational context.

STEPS is a decision-making tool to help schools determine whether a particular resource or approach is evidence-based, sustainable and appropriate for addressing the identified needs of the school.

Implementing a new approach to bullying takes time and effort. STEPS is a robust, transparent and comprehensive process for selecting an effective anti-bullying approach that matches local needs. For more information visit:

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