Responding to Bullying

Bullying refers to ongoing or repeated misuse of power in relationships, with the intention to cause deliberate harm.  Bullying behaviours can be verbal (name calling, put downs, threatening to harm, etc), physical (poking, hitting, tripping, punching, pulling faces, etc), social (exclusion, lying, spreading rumours, embarrassing someone in public, etc) or cyberbullying (using technology to hurt someone else by sending hurtful messages, pictures or comments). 

With the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence falling today the 19th March 2021, below are some tips for young people dealing with bullying.


A study reported that 1 in 4 Australian students experience bullying. No matter who you are, it is okay to feel ‘not okay’ about being bullied. 

  • Where possible keep your distance from those bullying.  Where it is safe to do so, tell them that what they are doing is not okay. 
  • The most important thing is when you can, tell an adult about it.   If the first adult doesn’t listen or is unable to do anything, tell someone else. 
  • Buddy up with a friend, so you are less likely to be alone near the bully. 
  • It is completely natural to be upset by what is happening, but this is what bullies thrive on.  Try to keep your face calm and cool until you’re clear of any danger. Practice acting uninterested, ignoring or walking away from the bully.
  • If you are being bullied, keep a record of what is happening and when it happened.  If it is occurring online, take screenshots, save or copy any information, including emails, photos, texts and posts. 
  • Don’t be your biggest bully by internalizing unkind or hurtful things people have said about you as being true.  They aren’t!  Remind yourself of what you like and admire in yourself. 


  • If you see someone being bullied, intervene if it is safe to do so, or get an adult to help.
  • If it is not safe to help at the time, make a note of what happened and report it to an adult when you are able. 
  • If you are aware your friend has been bullied, send a supportive message, check if they’re okay or if they need anything.  Encourage them to speak with a trusted adult. 
  • Make sure you know how to report bullying and worrying content on the apps and social media sites you use.


  • For those that have been the bully, it is important to remember that bullying is a behaviour, not who you are.  If you’ve been choosing to bully, you can ‘un-choose’ it.  It is never too late to make a change.  Start by apologising and speaking to a trusted adult about it that can help support you to make changes. 
  • It can be helpful to remember the analogy THINK when communicating with other people –

T – Is what I’m saying True?

H – Is what I’m saying Helpful?

I – Is what I’m saying Inspiring to others?

N – Is it Necessary for me to say this?

K – and maybe most importantly, is what I’m about to say Kind?

If what you are saying is not kind or necessary, make a different choice.  Remember bullying is never okay. 

Further resources and fact sheets around bullying for both primary and secondary students can be found on the Bullying No Way website.

References: Antibullying Alliance, Kids Helpline