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Dealing with discrimination

Facing discrimination can take a toll on you. We talk more about what it is and ways to cope.

Group of diverse teens

What is discrimination?

Discrimination is when a person is treated differently (not in a good way) because of some aspect of their identity. It is against the law.

It can include things like:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Ethnicity
  • Age
  • Disability
  • Body size
  • Sexuality
  • Gender identity

How does discrimination happen?

Some types of discrimination are really obvious while other types are not. But they can all still affect you. Some ways discrimination might happen is when someone:

Calls you hurtful or racist names

Treats you badly or unfairly

Commits a hate crime against you

Hurts you physically (abuse and violence)

Makes you defend who you are and what you believe in

Doesn’t respect your identity, beliefs or opinions

Leaves you out or excludes you on purpose

Hurts you emotionally (verbal and emotional abuse)

How does it affect you?

Being discriminated against can make you feel:

  • Sad or depressed
  • Ashamed
  • Lonely, isolated or excluded
  • Anxious or scared of being hurt verbally or physically
  • Unable to concentrate on your study or work
  • Angry or as if you want to retaliate
  • Like there’s no hope

"From the day my neighbour told me to go back to China... I couldn't stop thinking about that moment. It turned my own home into a traumatising place. It took a long time for me to put aside that little clip of memory and say, 'This is my home. I should feel good and safe here.'"

–Vicky Xu, Journalist and Comedian

I’ve been racially discriminated against at work by some customers. A lot of the time I ignored it but sometimes it gets too much. It’s important to stand your ground, speak up if it’s safe to do so and report it to someone – Jilly*, 19 years old 

What can you do in that situation?

Nobody should face discrimination but sadly it does happen. Here are some tips on what you can do:

Find out about your rights at Lawstuff
Get an adult to help you tell the Police or go to
Get support and tell a teacher, parent or another trusted adult
Find a trusted friend to talk to about your feelings
Keep the evidence eg. screenshots of messages or a diary of incidents
Keep talking about it until it’s taken seriously!
If it looks like a fight might start or you could get hurt then leave the situation
Stand up for yourself (if safe) and tell the person their behaviour is NOT ok

Focusing on what makes you special and unique is really important. You deserve to be treated with fairness and respect! - Fiona, Kids Helpline Counsellor

Having support around you can make a difference

You are not alone in dealing with discrimination.

For more support give us a call, start a WebChat or send us an email today.

This content was last reviewed 13/07/2018

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