What is bullying?

Have you ever been picked on over and over again? That’s bullying.

Have you ever been repeatedly left out of a group? That’s bullying.

Have you ever been tagged in a photo online by a person who always upsets you on purpose? That’s bullying.

Bullying is when someone with more power than you repeatedly tries to upset or hurt you.

Types of bullying

Bullying can happen in person or online. It can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert).

Bullying might involve repeatedly:

  • physically hurting someone
  • keeping someone out of a group (online or in person)
  • saying mean or humiliating things, or spreading rumours or lies
  • sending nasty messages or inappropriate images online
  • tagging inappropriate images online.

A person can be bullied about many different things such as how they look, sound or speak; their background, religion, race or culture including being Aboriginal; they have a disability; their sex; being lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, and/or intersex (LGBTI); their size or body shape; their schoolwork, hobbies or achievements; or other ways they may be different.

What bullying is not

Bullying is not the same as conflict or disliking someone – even though these things may sometimes lead to bullying.

If someone teases or behaves in a mean or aggressive way once, it isn't bullying. It is not okay, but it isn’t bullying. A fight or disagreement between friends isn't bullying.

Why bullying happens

Bullying can happen for many reasons. People may bully others because they:

  • are angry or unhappy and take it out on others
  • may have been bullied themselves
  • think it will make them popular or cool
  • are trying to fit in with a group
  • struggle with school work
  • have problems out of school
  • don't respect people who are different from them
  • think it is funny
  • copy what they have seen others do before.

People who persistently bully others may do it to feel stronger and make other people like them. They may not see anything wrong with bullying.

Bullying is bad for everyone. People who are bullied need help to feel safe. People who bully others need help to change.

Learn more about bullying at Bullying. No Way!

Get help for bullying

If you’re being bullied or you see others being bullied, get help.

  • Tell someone – a parent or carer, a relative, an adult friend, a teacher or the school’s counsellor or psychologist. Ask for advice.
  • If you want to talk to someone other than the school or your family, contact Kids Helpline. You can call them for free on 1800 55 1800.

Adapted with permission from Bullying. No Way!

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