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Dealing with bullies

teasing; bullying; harassment; safety; bully; bullies; tease; safety houses; assault; dobbing; safe; mean; cyber;


Being bullied happens to lots of kids (more than you would think) and it can be very scary. It can make some kids feel so miserable that they don't even want to go to school. So something has to be done about it!

People who are bullies when they are little kids may grow up to be worse bullies when they are big kids. They need to learn that bullying is NOT OK before they grow up into the type of awful adults who make others unhappy and afraid.

Bullying may also be called harassment.

What if someone is bullying you?

  • Find someone you trust and go and tell them what is happening to you.
  • If the harassment is happening at school, then tell a teacher or school counsellor and ask what can be done about it. Your school probably has a policy on harassment/bullying and there are steps to follow in the rules of that policy. If you say nothing then nothing will be done.
    This is not 'dobbing' (telling tales) Bullying is wrong and everyone must speak up about it to stop it.
  • It is not your fault that you are being harassed/bullied and you have the right to feel safe.
  • Bullies need to be caught and stopped because they can make the lives of many others miserable as well as yours.
  • Tell your parents or caregivers, who will talk to the school for you if you are scared about what the bully may do.
  • Tell your friends what is happening to you and ask for their support.
  • If you are being harassed on the way to school, try going a different way or walking with a group of others.
  • bullyingCheck if there are any Safety Houses in your area and walk round that way so that you can go there and ask for help. (People who run Safety Houses have been 'checked out' by the police and can be trusted to help young people.)
  • If you are being chased, run up to any door and knock loudly. Bullies are afraid of being caught and would probably run away if they thought they were going to be caught.
  • Bashing people up is assault and is a criminal offence. Let the bully know that your parents know and can report it to school and to the Police.
  • It is really important to tell someone! Keep on telling until something is done to make you feel safe again.

Cyber bullying

We all know that bullying is when someone is deliberately trying to embarrass, threaten or harm someone else. Usually you at least know who the bully is!

In cyber bullying you often don't know who the bully is. The bully can hide his or her identity and make your life miserable - from a distance.

Cyber bullying uses technology.

Have a look at our topic Cyber bullying to find out more and how to protect yourself and your friends.

Don't give bullies a chance

self esteemAlthough often bullies just pick on anyone, there are some things you can do that sometimes help keep bullies away. Here are some ideas on how you can become the kind of person that bullies may be less likely to want to pick on.

Take a good look at yourself in the mirror and answer these questions:

  • Do I look confident?
  • Do I look like a regular kid? (Of course kids are different in lots of different ways, but I know how important it is to kids to feel they are seen to be part of the group.)
  • Do I stand tall?
  • Do I hold my head high? (Or do I look miserable, as though life has got on top of me?)

If the answer is no to any of these questions, then now is the time to put some work in on yourself.

People who become famous athletes, musicians, actors, and dancers or who are really good at whatever job they do have one thing in common: They practise! You can practise too.

Things you can practise

  • Practise acting confident, eg. walking head-up, looking and smiling at people as you go, saying hello to anyone you know who looks back at you.
  • teasingPractise looking your best. If you look neat, clean and tidy, and make the most of your appearance, you immediately feel good about yourself and you feel more confident.
  • Practise using a strong voice - not shouting.

Think back to a situation where you were bullied. How could you have handled it?

  • Practise what you could say or do if that happens again.
  • Practise making friends in and out of school. (Look up our topic Friendship if you need some ideas.)
  • Practise being assertive. This means standing up for your rights.
  • bullyingPractise thinking about the worst thing that the bully might do to you and what you could do - then stop worrying about it. It is unlikely to happen to the 'new' assertive you.
  • Practise a game or skill until you're really good at it. You could make new friends, gain respect from others and feel great about yourself.
  • Practise  collecting powerful friends. Watch the people you hang around with. Bullies are unlikely to pick on you if you have a group of friends who are strong and support you.
  • Ask someone who is bigger, older or popular with other kids if you can hang out with them for a while. (If you can't think of anyone, ask your teacher to help you find someone.)

Don't ask that person to fight for you though. You don't want to be in the middle of a 'war'!

  • Practise talking your way out of strife, eg. "OK everyone knows you can beat me, I know too, so it's really a waste of time isn't it?" (Get your parents or a friend to help you. They can pretend to be the bully and you can practise different things to say, in a strong voice.)
  • Practise thinking ahead. Avoid places where you come close to the bully.
  • If you're being harassed for money or food treats, make sure that you don't have any left when you are likely to come across the bully. Practise saying that you don't get them anymore as mum has told the teacher she doesn't want to provide food/money for other people.
  • Practise liking yourself. Tell yourself what a great kid you are. List all the great things you can do.
  • Practise all of these things every day. Keep a diary of what you do and what you try to do. Look at it every Sunday to check how you did last week and make your list of things to try for the next week.
  • Don't give up!

bullyingRemember, practice makes perfect, more practice makes perfect every time. That is what people who become famous believe and if it's good enough for them it sure is good enough for the rest of us! (But it can be hard to do on your own and easier with help from mum or dad or a teacher.)

Ideas on how to deal with bullies

These are some ideas from kids on how to deal with bullies:

  • Ask a teacher to watch out for bullies and catch them.
  • Ask a friend to help you tell them to stop.
  • Try to act like you are not being hurt by their nasty words.
  • Tell teachers, parents, counsellors and anyone else you think may help you, until the bullying is dealt with.
  • Use the 'Harassment steps' at your school. If you don't know what they are, ask your teacher.
  • Don't give the bullies put-downs, give them build-ups (eg. ignore if they are being nasty and say something positive "I think that you're too smart to be doing this.")
  • Get all the other people who are being bullied and go together to tell someone.
  • Act normal around bullies - don't let them see if you're scared.
  • Get together with others and put bullying on the agenda for your class meeting. Don't mention names, say 'someone' or 'what if someone...' and ask for ideas on dealing with bullying from the class.
  • If you are being bullied at home tell mum or dad, or other adults in your family, and keep telling until it stops.

Katie's story

When I was bullied, my two best friends were with me. Tahlia got called the rare freckled rabbit and freckle fun face and they said she was stupid.

Elle and I were called babies. Elle was teased about her voice and I was teased because I like Winnie the Pooh and teddybears.

To get rid of them we pretended to tell the teacher but they knew we hadn't really, so that didn't help.

We tried all sorts of other things and almost gave up.

My friends and I then decided to do this really babyish play that we'd been practising and they didn't like it so they went away. They've left us alone since then.

David wrote about harassment.


Lily's story

This girl pretended she wanted to be my friend, then after a few days she told other girls that I had said mean things about them, but I hadn't. No one wanted to talk with me until another girl told me that the same thing had happened to her. When we saw a new girl being bullied in the same way by this girl, we became friends and told the teacher.

Some schools in Australia are setting up sealed or locked 'Bully Boxes' where you can drop in a note telling who is the bully, what happened, when and where. These notes go to the Principal/counsellor/teacher who follows them up. Some schools have their 'bully box' on the school web site so you can send the information in using email. Let us know if you have a great idea at your school for stamping out bullying.

"When you are getting bullied just ignore them - it really helps, and don't start a fight with them, and tell an adult." from Medeline and Neve

Dr Kim says

Dr Kim
Everyone has the right to feel safe. Being bullied makes people feel unsafe. Tell someone you trust about it and keep telling until something is done about the bullying.

Have a look at This site has lots more information for parents, teachers and students. If you are being bullied you are not alone and you can get help.

Some bullies try to turn kids against a person who stands up against the bullies. Talk to your school counsellor, teacher or parents if this is happening to you.

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We've provided this information to help you to understand important things about staying healthy and happy. However, if you feel sick or unhappy, it is important to tell your mum or dad, a teacher or another grown-up.


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