Bullying is really common and can happen to anyone.  There are many different things you might be able to do if you are being bullied or you know someone who is. Different strategies can work in different situations, check out this page for videos and a detailed factsheet covering being a supportive bystander to your rights.

Topic Videos

ALTER Let's Stand Up

Inspired and performed by students at three Catholic primary and secondary schools in the Diocese of Wollongong, this innovative video production uses their voice and experience to focus on the impact of bullying and provides practical strategies for youth to deal with this important issue. It is an engaging visual stimulus which challenges students to think positively, respond compassionately and act with courage when they are confronted with future incidents of bullying.

  • Author: ALTER
  • Upload Date: 2012-08-01

Produced by ALTER

Stories on this Topic

Featured Story (text)

Is it Ok to see a counsellor

Is it Ok to see a counsellor

A work by Xin

I had a pretty bad time in high school. Without going into details, I was bullied, I knew what it was like to be hurt and alone, I felt angry, sad, and eventually I felt nothing. I was not okay, and I knew I was not okay, but no one else seemed to care. None of my friends were willing to really open up to me. It was like I was drowning and I was surrounded by people in boats, but none of them were willing to risk reaching out to me.

Read the full story about is it Ok to see a counsellor on the blog

Click to read the text

As part of our blog series Xin takes a personal look into the question, is it Ok to see a counsellor.

  • Author: Xin
  • Upload Date: 2013-02-25

Written by Xin as part of our blog section.


Provided by Reach Out

We have partnered with Reach Out to bring you the best factsheet information we can on this topic. Reach Out offers information, support and resources to help young people improve their understanding of mental health issues, develop resilience, and increase their coping skills and help-seeking behaviour.

What is bullying?

This factsheet covers

  • What is bullying
  • Being a supportive bystander
  • Cyberbullying
  • Bullying - Your Rights

What is bullying? It’s a word that gets used a lot to describe a whole lot of things. Find out what bullying is, and get the facts on what different types of bullying look like. It can affect you in a lot of different ways, and it’s hard to figure out why people are doing it to you. Find out what to do about it.

What is bullying?

Bullying is when people repeatedly and intentionally use words or actions against someone or a group of people to cause distress and risk to their wellbeing. People who do it usually have more influence or power over someone else, or want to make someone else feel less powerful or helpless.

Bullying is not the same as conflict between people (like having a fight) or disliking someone, even though people might bully each other because of conflict or dislike.

The sort of repeated behaviour that can be considered bullying include:  

  • Keeping someone out of a group (online or offline)
  • Giving nasty looks, making rude gestures, calling names, being rude and impolite, and constantly negative teasing.
  • Spreading rumours or lies, or misrepresenting someone (i.e. using their Facebook account to post messages as if it were them)
  • Messing around that goes too far
  • Harassing someone based on their race, sex, religion, gender or a disability
  • Intentionally and repeatedly hurting someone
  • Intentionally stalking someone
  • Taking advantage of any power over someone else

Bullying can happen anywhere. It can be in schools, at home, at work, in online social spaces, via text messaging or via email. It can be physical, verbal, emotional, and it also includes messages, public statements and behaviour online intended to cause distress or harm (also known as cyberbullying). 

Types of bullying

Face-to-face bullying (sometimes referred to as direct bullying) involves physical actions such as punching or kicking or direct verbal actions such as name-calling and insulting.

Covert bullying (sometimes referred to as indirect bullying) is less direct, but just as painful. It means bullying which isn’t easily seen by others and happens out of sight, such as excluding people from groups or spreading lies or rumours. Because it is less obvious, it is often not noticed by other people.

 occurs through the use of technology like Instant Messaging or chat, text messages, email and social networks or forums. It’s similar to offline bullying, but it can also be anonymous, it can reach a wide audience, and sent or uploaded material can be difficult to remove. Most people who cyberbully also bully offline. 

How can bullying affect you and others?

Bullying affects everyone in different ways. But there are common feelings that come up when you are being bullied. 

How bullying can affect individuals includes feeling:

  • Guilty like it is your fault
  • Hopeless and stuck like you can’t get out of the situation
  • Alone, like there is no one to help you
  • Like you don’t fit in with the cool group
  • Depressed and rejected by your friends and other groups of people
  • Unsafe and afraid
  • Confused and stressed out wondering what to do and why this is happening to you
  • Ashamed that this is happening to you

Bullying can have a negative impact on everyone – it is not just a problem for victims and bullies. If you see or know of others been bullied you may feel angry, fearful, guilty, and sad. You may also feel worried that the bullying could happen to you.  

When bullying isn’t stopped or challenged by anyone it can create an environment where bullying is accepted and where everyone feels powerless to stop it.

Why do people bully others?

People bully for different reasons. Those who bully persistently are likely to do so in order to dominate others and improve their social status. They may have high self-esteem, show little regret for their bullying behaviour and not see bullying as wrong.

Other people may bully out of anger or frustration, they may struggle socially and could have also been victims of bullying.

What can you do to stop bullies?

If you know or see someone who is being bullied, find out how to stop bullying. If you are being bullied, you should talk to someone you know well and trust; they will give you much needed support and will often have suggestions you hadn't considered for helping with the situation.

If you feel safe and confident, you should approach the person who is bullying you and tell them that their behaviour is unwanted and you won’t put up with it. If you are being bullied while at school, it is a good idea to seek help from a friend, or to talk to a teacher or counsellor to see if they can help. If you are being bullied at work, check out the Reach Out Australia's info on workplace bullying.

Know your rights. You have a right to feel safe and to be treated fairly and respectfully. Bullying is a serious problem with serious mental and physical impacts, scroll down to find out about your rights when you’re facing harassment.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (1300 656 419) has a complaint handling service that may investigate complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying.

This fact sheet was developed by Reach Out Australia in partnership with the Australian Human Rights Commission, 2011. Facts included from the National Safe Schools Framework. 

How to Stand Up against Bullies

You can do something to stop bullying if you know someone who is being harassed. This factsheet gives you info on what a bystander is, as well as the power you have as a bystander to do something about bullying. If you’re really worried or not sure what to do you can get help, check out some of the useful online resources.

What’s a bystander?

A bystander is someone who sees or knows about bullying or other forms of violence that is happening to someone else. Bystanders can be either part of the bullying problem or an important part of the solution to stop bullying. 

Bystanders can act in different ways when they see or know about bullying:

  • Some bystanders take the side of the bully by laughing at the victim, encouraging the bully or forwarding on text messages or messages on social media like Facebook and YouTube.
  • Some bystanders will give silent approval or encourage the bully by looking on.
  • Some bystanders may watch or know about the bullying but don’t do anything. They may not know what to do. or are scared. This group of bystanders knows that bullying is not ok.
  • Some bystanders will be supportive and take safe action to stop the bully, find help or support the victim.

Supportive bystanders

Just as we have human rights we also have responsibilities to respect and protect the rights of others. A supportive bystander will take action to protect the rights of others and use words and/or actions to help someone who is being bullied. If bystanders are confident to take safe and effective action to support victims then there is a greater possibility that they can stop bullying and the person who is bullied can recover.

People respect those that stand up for others who are bullied but being a supportive bystander can be tough. Sometimes it’s not easy to work out how to help safely because bullying happens in different ways and places such as online, at work or school.

  • Make it clear to your friends that you won’t be involved in bullying behaviour.
  • Never stand by and watch or encourage bullying.
  • Do not harass, tease or spread gossip about others, this includes on social networks like Facebook. 
  • Never forward on or respond to messages or photos that may be offensive or upsetting.
  • Support the person who is being bullied to ask for help e.g. go with them to a place they can get help or provide them with information about where to go for help.
  • Report it to someone in authority or someone you trust e.g. at school to a teacher, or a school counsellor; at work to a manager; if the bullying is serious, report it to the police; if the bullying occurs on Facebook, report it to Facebook.


bullying is not OKCyberbullying is any kind of bullying or harassment done using technology. It really sucks because it can be public, hard to take down, or affect you at home. There are a lot of things it could be, and it can affect people in a lot of different ways. Take 5 minutes to skill up on how to protect yourself.

Cyberbullying – what it is and why it sucks

Cyberbullying is bullying that is done through the use of technology, for example, using the Internet, a mobile phone or a camera to hurt or embarrass someone. It can be shared widely with a lot of people quickly, which is why it is so dangerous and hurtful.

Why is cyberbullying so bad? 

  • A lot of people can view or take part in it.
  • It is often done in secret with the bully hiding who they are by creating false profiles or names, or sending anonymous messages.
  • It is difficult to remove as it is shared online so it can be recorded and saved in different places.
  • It is hard for the person being bullied to escape if they use technology often.
  • The content (photos, texts, videos) can be shared with a lot of people.
  • This content may also be easy to find by searching on a web browser like Google.

What does cyberbullying look like?

  • Being sent mean or hurtful text messages from someone you know or even someone you don’t know.
  • Getting nasty, threatening or hurtful messages through social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter, or through sites where people can ask/answer questions like Formspring or internet forums.
  • People sending photos and videos of you to others to try and embarrass or hurt you.
  • People spreading rumours about you via emails or social networking sites or text messages.
  • People trying to stop you from communicating with others.
  • People stealing your passwords or getting into your accounts and changing the information there.
  • People setting up fake profiles pretending to be you, or posting messages or status updates from your accounts.

How it can affect people

  • Feeling guilty like it is your fault.
  • Feeling hopeless and stuck like you can’t get out of the situation.
  • Feeling alone, like there is no one to help you.
  • Feeling like you don’t fit in with the cool group.
  • Feeling depressed and rejected by your friends and other groups of people.
  • Feeling unsafe and afraid.
  • Stressed out wondering what to do and why this is happening to you.

How to protect yourself

  • Don’t share your private information like passwords, name and address, phone numbers with people you don’t know. Be cautious about sharing photos of yourself, your friends and your family.
  • Don’t respond to messages when you are angry or hurt - either to strangers or people you know. This will often encourage them to continue or increase their harassment of you.
  • Log out and stop messaging if you feel you are being harassed.
  • Remember you have the option to block, delete and report anyone who is harassing you online and on your mobile.
  • Find out how to report bullying and harassment on each of the different social networks that you use – see the Easy guide to socialising online for info on how to do this on different site.
  • Keep a record of calls, messages, posts and emails that may be hurtful or harmful to you.
  • Remember to set up the privacy options on your social networking sites like Facebook in a way you are comfortable with.

The Australian Human Rights Commission (1300 656 419) has a complaint handling service that may investigate complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Bullying and the Law

bullying your rightsHarassment and bullying are things that a lot of people experience and it’s important to know what your rights are. More importantly – it’s important to know how they can be violated by bullying. This fact sheet tells you who is responsible, and how to get help.

What are rights?

Human rights are important for everyone, everywhere, every day.  All of our human rights are equally important and should be respected by everyone. 

You have a right to feel safe and to be treated fairly and respectfully, and not to be subjected to harassment.

Bullying and harassment is an abuse of your human rights. It is a serious problem with serious mental and physical impacts. Bullying can affect you at home, school, work, in your social life and in your ability to feel happy, healthy and secure.

It is up to governments, schools, workplaces and individuals (including you) to make sure that every human right is respected. 

Rights that could be violated by bullying

  • Your right to be free from mental, emotional and physical violence.  Bullying is a form of violence. You have a right to be in a supportive environment (be that at school, work or online) that is respectful, safe and free from violence.
  • Your right to the highest attainable standard of physical and mental health.
  • Bullying can cause physical injuries, depression and other health issues.
  • Your right to survival and development. Bullying can have serious impact on your physical, mental, spiritual, moral and social development.
  • Your right to work and have a fair and safe workplace. Bullying at work can lead to physical and mental stress and depression. It can stop you being able to do your job well and cause you to need increased days off work.
  • Your right to leisure and play. Bullying that occurs in places you play and socialise such as at school and on social networking sites and can impact on your ability to relax and enjoy different activities.
  • Your right to education. Bullying at school can make you feel unsafe and unwelcome. It can impact on your concentration and your mental and physical health. This may affect how well you do at school.
  • Your right to participate and have your voice heard. Bullying can make you feel unsafe and prevent you from expressing your feelings and opinions. You have the right to express your views, to have your concerns taken seriously and to participate in decisions that directly affect you. 
  • Your right to privacy. Bullying, in particular cyberbullying can make things that are personal public. You have a right to have your privacy respected by others.

Some people say that bullying is part of the experience of growing up. But bullying is never OK.

Who is responsible?

Individuals: Just as we are all born with human rights we also have responsibilities to respect and protect the rights of others. We all have a responsibility to avoid all forms of bullying, including spreading gossip or making offensive comments about others online. 

Respecting the rights of others applies to everyone, including people who are your friends and those who are not, people who are isolated, new to your school or workplace or may not be very popular. 

If you see someone that has been bullied or treated badly you may be able to take safe and effective action to stop bullying. Bullying is everyone’s problem. Bystanders can be either part of the bullying problem or an important part of the solution to stop bullying.

School and work: Your school has a responsibility to provide a safe learning environment free from violence, harassment and bullying. This protects your right to education. 

Your boss has a responsibility to provide a safe work environment where there is no violence, harassment and bullying. This protects your right to work. 

Government: Your human rights are protected by international human rights laws that the Australian government has agreed to uphold.  

In Australia there are also laws that protect you from some forms of bullying and harassment. Some helpful information on where to go is provided on the Reach Out Australia's workplace bullying fact sheet.

Get Help

  • If you have been bullied or witnessed others been bullied and need help, you can chat to a bunch of the services on the Reach Out Australia's help page, to work through what you can do.
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission (1300 656 419) has a complaint handling service that may investigate complaints of discrimination, harassment and bullying.

Other useful resources

  • If people are being bullied on line, find out about the privacy, abuse and reporting features of the main social networks at the Easy Guide to Socialising Online.
  • Download the Cybersafety Help Button, a free Australian Government app designed to help people stay safe online. 
  • To find out about cyberbullying and how to get help you can also go to the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) Cybersmart Program.
  • The Australian Human Rights Commission has information on cyber racism and actions that can be taken to report cyber racism.
  • Bullying No Way provides information for schools.
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Join the Discussion

Tell us how you have positively managed this topic and help others find their way through...

15 Responses to “Bullying”

  1. lynz says:

    Boy gets caught with his pants down – a cyber bullying video with a difference, Really makes you think.http://www.youtube.com/watchvCBjiaytbt5Xwk

  2. [...] check out our page on bullying, we have a section on cyber bullying and some great resources and [...]

  3. Angel says:

    POOR PEOPLE :( :( :( :( :( :(

  4. jaydog says:

    bulleying is a meany

  5. Tam says:

    Hi my daughter is being bullied at school by people that used to be her friends. It is breaking my heart What can I do?

    • lynz says:

      Hi Tam, so sorry to hear that your daughter is having to go through that – it is just not fair. Check out the factsheet on this page for some info, also check out this great info here aimed at parents http://www.amf.org.au/forparents/ It is wonderful your daughter has your support and love. Lynz

    • Abbie says:

      OMG! That is soo sad!! You should talk to her teacher about this, and see if there is anything that she could do. Also, tell her to try and make some new friends, because her ex-friends, are obviously very mean. I suggest having a long talk to her, about nice and not nice people. I hope this helps.

      Abbie xxxx

  6. hannah says:

    why do people bully all the time?
    is it because there jelouse of people?
    are they scared like the person who is gtting bullied?
    but why we are the same!
    can’t we treat people like how they want to feel!
    no one wants to get bullied “NO WAY”
    i say that to bullies can we all get along with each other like the world and countries? can’t we be like that just all happy no sad :( be happy and make everyone like your friend like me everyone is my friend like you reading this.

    i’m hannah and this is me who is asking all these questions thanks :)

  7. random person says:

    its me again,

    i have one more question.

    who was the one that came up with BULLYING? :(

    thanks everyone for looking at my questions hope you can answer them.

  8. random person says:

    hello everybody and no one is different like “it dosent matter if your black o white

  9. unknown says:

    hi everyone, my friend and i are doing a project for school and its designing a youth centre for victims of bullying. does anyone have any ideas for activities to help build their confidence?

  10. jeweleez says:

    poor people may god be with u all

  11. Gamer Pro says:

    hi guys
    bulling is a terrible thing so that’s why it needs to stop NOW!!!

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