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Bullying


If you, or someone you know, is being bullied, Kia Kaha! Things can get better, and there are people out there that can help! 

Bullying is behaviour that leaves another person feeling hurt, threatened, put down, or excluded, and it can cause lasting damage. The facts are:

  • bullying is NEVER cool – it’s not 'just having a laugh'
  • bullying is NOT just a part of growing up, and it is NEVER acceptable
  • bullying is NEVER the bullied person’s fault
  • bullying is NEVER something that someone deserves
  • EVERYONE has the right to be treated with respect and to feel safe wherever they are!

Some different kinds of bullying behaviour are: 

Physical bullying 

  • pushing someone around
  • hurting someone’s body in any way, like pinching, punching, kicking, or tripping someone up
  • taking someone’s money or food 
  • damaging another person’s property
  • being 'beaten up' or getting a 'hiding' – this is assault and can be reported to the police  

Verbal bullying

  • shaming someone with name-calling or put-downs
  • talking aggressively or shouting at another person
  • threatening someone

Social bullying

  • leaving someone out or ignoring them
  • humiliating or embarrassing someone
  • telling lies or spreading rumours about a person
  • dissing someone to others behind their back, or 'back stabbing'
  • pressuring someone to do something they’re uncomfortable with

Cyber bullying

  • bullying behaviour using technology
  • harassing someone using a mobile phone, or on social websites like Facebook 
  • sending unwanted messages that are offensive
  • setting up an offensive website about another  person
  • pressuring someone to post pictures, or giving out personal details

For more info see our cyber bullying info page.  


Why do people get bullied?

If you have been bullied, you’re not alone – anyone can be a target. Every day, many young people from all walks of life report that they've experienced some form of bullying.  

Sometimes the person targeted is someone who appears to be easily intimated – That is, someone who may be soft spoken, lacking in confidence, anxious or shy. This may be because the bully gains a sense of power from intimidating another person, and they may feel that there is less of a chance they will be stood up to by that person. 

Sometimes people are targeted because they’re known to react quickly and lose their cool – Young people that lose control to anger or other emotions are often targeted because the bully may get a sense of power from being able to manipulate and upset them.

Sometimes people are targeted simply for their individuality – This may be because it’s easy to pick a sensitive topic to tease them about, or because the bully has a negative attitude or lack of understanding about differences. These differences could be:  

  • cultural differences
  • having unique or different interests
  • having different taste in style, clothes, or music
  • sexual orientation
  • having a disability 
  • body shape or size

The reality is that everyone is different in their own way, and you have the right to be who you are! It’s not okay for someone to bully you for being you – no matter what. Remember, being an individual or 'different' isn’t the problem – the problem is with the person who is doing the bullying. 

Often people are targeted for no particular reason at all. They may just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time, or the person bullying them may be unhappy and want to take it out on someone, or the bully may be insecure and trying to show off or impress others. Whatever the reason, bullying another person is wrong, and if you’re feeling bullied you have the right to speak up and get support. Don’t accept bullying from anyone!  


What can help if you’re being bullied? 

If you’re being bullied, there’s no one answer or one magic solution. What's worked for one person might not work for another, what’s right for you will depend on what’s going on, what support you have, and what feels right for you. People often find they need to try a few things before it starts to get better.

Ask for help! Don’t keep it a secret 

If you’re being bullied, you may find it hard to talk about it – but it’s really important to express your feelings and get support. A bully can be good at knowing the right thing to say or do so that you feel like it’s your fault, confuse you about the situation, or threaten you so you feel frightened to speak out.  If you’re being bullied, it’s really important to talk to the people around you that care about you so you can: 

  • feel less alone
  • get support
  • get a clearer picture of what’s going on
  • get help to make things change for the better

When asking an adult like a teacher for help, it may help to:

  • let the person know it’s important, and ask them to take time out to listen
  • tell them how what’s happening is affecting your wellbeing, concentration, and self-esteem
  • tell them what you’d like to have happen or what you’d like them to do

If nothing changes, keep telling this person and try other teachers too – it’s important to keep asking for help until the bullying stops.

Here are some other ideas that may help:

  • Walk away – Often the safest option is to walk away, especially if the bullying could become violent. If you decide to walk away, walk tall and head to a place where you’ll be safe.
  • If you feel safe, stay calm and be assertive – Even if you’re not feeling confident, it helps to act as if you are.
    • stand tall and strong, holding your head up straight
    • make eye contact
    • use a calm but firm voice
    • keep a 'poker face' – this will help you show confidence, and won’t give away your emotions to the person bullying you
    • act unimpressed – use neutral language to respond to the bullying. You could say things like, Maybe”, or “That’s what you think”
    • practise what you might say to the person bullying you. You might like to try this with someone you trust or with a counsellor from 0800 What’s Up
  • Distance yourself from people who bully – If possible, avoid or ignore the people that have been bullying you. You may want to stay away from the place they hang out at lunch time, or ignore them if you see them around school. 
  • Don’t let them bring you down! – There are positive things you can do for yourself – this might not stop the bullying behaviour, but it’ll help you stay strong and manage your feelings. Keep doing things you enjoy, and get involved in creative things that take your mind off what’s going on:
    • make or listen to music
    • spend time in nature
    • read your favourite books and blogs
    • watch funny or inspiring movies
    • hang out with caring people
    • stay active
  • School Rulz! – Knowledge is power! Arm yourself with knowledge and find out exactly what your school’s policy is on how to manage bullying. Remember, your teachers and the adults at your school have a responsibility to look after the wellbeing of all the students and ensure everyone is safe and being treated with respect.  

What if someone you know is being bullied?

Don’t be a bystander – be their Super Hero! In any bullying situation there’s often an audience, or other people who know about what’s happening. These people are referred to as bystanders. 

You’ve been a bystander if you have:

  • laughed along with the person doing the bullying
  • encouraged the bullying behaviour
  • watched in silence
  • walked away from the situation
  • forwarded an offensive image, post or text message to someone

Often bystanders know what’s happening isn't okay, but they may feel unsure about what they should do, or even frightened to tell the person bullying how they feel. The way a bystander reacts sends a message to both the person bullying and the person being bullied. If the person bullying doesn’t have a supportive audience or if a bystander shows that they don’t like what’s going on, there’s a greater chance the bullying will stop. Small things can make a huge difference, so don’t just laugh along with bullies because this will give them the message that this behaviour is okay.

Tips for a Super Hero!:

  • Let the person who is doing the bullying know you don’t find what they’re doing funny and you’re not cool with it.
  • Keep yourself and others safe. If someone is being physically assaulted or threatened, it may not be safe to challenge the bully yourself. In this case, talk to an adult as soon as possible, the person being targeted may be in danger.
  • Be a friend to the person who is being bullied. Being bullied can make a person feel very alone – showing them that you think what’s happening to them is wrong, and that you are concerned for them, can make a big difference to their confidence. 
  • Report what’s going on, and get support and backup for yourself from your friends and family.   

Have you been the bully? Stop the hate!

If you’ve been involved in bullying and want to change, that's a really brave and positive thing to do. Here are some pointers that may help you resolve the situation and change your behaviour:

  • Think about how you’d feel if you were in the other person’s shoes.
  • Take responsibility! Own up to your role in the situation and what you’ve done wrong – don’t blame anyone else for your behaviour.
  • Apologise to the person who has been bullied – you may want to do this in person or in writing. 
  • Accept the consequences of your behaviour. 
  • Stop hanging around with people who bully others.
  • Talk to your friends, family, teachers or school counsellors about what’s happened and how you’re feeling. Ask them to support you to change your behaviour.
  • Find a positive way to express your emotions – don’t take negative feelings out on others.
  • Learn how to respect others and manage conflict – learning new communication skills may help.
  • Read and educate yourself on bullying, and become an advocate for stopping bullying in your school.
  • If you are being treated badly by someone else or don’t feel good about yourself, get some support for you!