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Understanding bullying

Bullying can cause lots of distress and its effects can last for a long time. The good news is that there are ways to cope and things you can do to stop it from happening.

Woman standing over man and yelling abuse at him

What is bullying?

It’s more than just an argument or single act of dislike.

Bullying is when someone (or a group of people) who have more power than you repeatedly and intentionally use negative words or actions to hurt you or cause you distress.

Bullying can happen anywhere – at home, with friends, in a group, online or in the workplace.


Types of bullying

There are many different types of bullying:

Verbal – name calling, teasing, putting someone down, ridiculing, unjust criticism or complaints, inappropriate sexual comments, threatening to cause harm.
Physical – poking, hitting, punching, kicking, spitting, tripping or pushing someone, destroying someone else’s property, pulling faces or making rude hand signals.
Social – lying, spreading rumours, playing horrible jokes, deliberately excluding someone from a group or workplace activity, embarrassing someone in public.
Cyberbullying – using technology to hurt someone else by sending hurtful messages, pictures or comments.

Why do people bully others?

There are lots of reasons why someone might bully others. Whatever the reason, bullying is never ok.

They might:

  • Feel jealous
  • Want others to like them
  • Want to feel better about themselves
  • Want to fit in with others
  • Feeling angry inside
  • Like to be in control or have power over others
  • Have been bullied themselves
  • Not know what they are doing is wrong

What are the effects of bullying?

Bullying can cause lots of distress and suffering and its effects can last for a long time.

You may:

Have trouble sleeping

Lose your appetite

Have trouble concentrating

Feel down about yourself or ashamed

Find it hard to cope

Have thoughts of hurting yourself

Have thoughts of suicide

Have trouble with study or work

Feel physically sick

Feel hopeless or powerless

Feel alone, sad, angry or confused

Feel unsafe or afraid all the time

What to do if you’re being bullied

There’s always something you can do.

Here are some ideas:

  • Keep your distance from those bullying you
  • Don’t retaliate or bully them back
  • Tell them what they're doing isn't ok
  • Report it if you can
  • Talk to someone and get support
  • Take time to do something nice for yourself

"Bullying is never ok and there's things you can do to put a stop to it. Contact us and get support today."

Everyone needs a support team!

Let Kids Helpline be a part of yours.

If you’re being bullied, it’s really important to talk to someone you trust.

We’re always here to help. Give us a call, start a WebChat or email us today.

This content was last reviewed 08/03/2018

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