1. Understand what bullying looks like

Bullying can happen anywhere:

  • at school
  • outside of school
  • online. This is sometimes called cyber-bullying.

Bullying is aggressive, repeated, harmful behaviour. A student can be bullied in many ways:

  • physically, such as hitting or shoving,
  • property damage, such as breaking a phone or ripping a book
  • psychologically, such as name calling or making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments
  • socially, such as being left out of group activities or teased in front of classmates
  • through reputation damage, such as spreading rumours

Bullying happens when a more powerful student harms a less powerful student. The bullied student may or may not be physically weaker. Power is about more than physical strength. How some people feel about certain groups of people can also affect whether a student feels more powerful.

A student can be bullied for many reasons, including:

  • intelligence
  • economic status
  • friend groups
  • religion
  • ethnic origin
  • sexual orientation
  • gender
  • race
  • disability
  • family circumstances

For example, a student from a low-income home may be bullied for wearing clothes that aren’t new or trendy. Quieter students may be bullied by students who are more popular.

Signs that your child may be experiencing bullying include:

  • They make excuses to not go to school, like pretending to feel sick.
  • They don’t want to take part in school activities with other students.
  • Their eating or sleeping habits change, for example, eating less or having more nightmares.
  • They start behaving differently.
  • They begin to “lose” money or personal items.
  • They have unexplained injuries

A bullied teenager may also:

  • skip class or activities that involve other students
  • drop out of school
  • talk about or engage in self-harm or destructive behaviour
  • start getting lower marks or grades in their classes
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