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Impact / effects / consequences, age groups impacted, risk factors / warning signs, need for a public health response, strategies to address, assisting bullies and victims, screening for bullying, resources for parents

This page has three sections:

  1. Background Material that provides the context for the topic

  2. A suggested Practice Approach

  3. A list of Supporting Material / References

Feedback welcome!

Background Material

What is bullying?

Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/ or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm with immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. The three main features of bullying are

  • Misuse of power in a relationship.

  • Ongoing and repeated behaviour.

  • Behaviour that causes harm (Robinson, 2020).

Bullying behaviour can involve both overt and covert behaviours. Overt bullying behaviour includes actions that can be directly observed, such as hitting, kicking or name calling.Covert bullying behaviours can include social exclusion, spreading rumours or gossiping, and cyberbullying. While overt behaviours are observable and often considered more serious by adults, covert behaviours can be more harmful because they increase feelings of social isolation and often remain undetected by adults for longer (Emerging Minds, 2023).

Common misconceptions about childhood bullying

Our thoughts on childhood bullying are influenced by our own experiences and, as practitioners, it is important that we stay mindful of our own beliefs about and perceptions of bullying behaviour. Bullying has long been considered by some as a childhood ‘rite of passage’ and ‘just something kids do’. This view is still widely held by parents, teachers and other adults in children’s lives. Some adults even consider bullying to be a way of building a child’s resilience and skills in coping with other children. It is vital as practitioners that we’re mindful of and reflect upon our attitudes in order to respond to the children we are working with in the most effective and appropriate way (Emerging Minds, 2023).

Childhood bullying can adversely impact on one’s whole life both for bully and victim. It can have short- and long-term effects on physical health, mental health and society in general.

The association between bullying in childhood and later mental health problems, including depression, anxiety and suicidality is well established. Children may also become withdrawn at school or at home, which in turn affects their confidence and ability to develop friendships and trusting relationships, further diminishing their sense of connection and belonging. Bullying not only remains a serious threat to children’s physical wellbeing during the time they are involved or experience it, it also can persist for many years into adulthood (McClowry et al., 2017; Prosser, 2020; Robinson, 2020)

To reduce the mental illness burden in the adult population, effective prevention of and responses to bullying behaviours in childhood are needed. Furthermore, with increasing use of the Internet and social media by children and young people, bullying behaviours in childhood are less confined to school hours. Yet, there continues to be an emphasis on school-based solutions when a wider public health prevention and early intervention response is warranted (Robinson, 2020).

Characteristics and Effects of Childhood Bullying (Stephens et al., 2018)


Short-term effects

Long-term effects

The Bully

Easily frustrated

Has positive attitude toward violence


Sees threats where none exist

The Bully

Antisocial personality disorders

Conduct problems and school disengagement


Increased risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

Involvement in vandalism, shoplifting, fighting

Substance abuse (tobacco, alcohol, drugs) Underachievement in school

The Bully


Antisocial behaviour

Criminal acts

Increased substance abuse

Performing below potential in employee role

Severe relationship problems

The Victim


May believe that he or she deserves to be teased/taunted and harassed

Perceived as weak or different Socially isolated Unassertive

The Victim

Anxiety (social phobia, obsessive-compulsive disorder, panic disorder)

Chronic absenteeism


Difficulty sleeping

Increased risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

More likely to carry weapons to school for safety or retaliation

Nightmares/bed wetting

Poor academic performance

Posttraumatic stress disorder

Psychosomatic problems (e.g., headache, abdominal pain), especially in the morning


The Victim

Depression and anxiety

High levels of stress and feeling isolated

Increased risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

Low self-esteem

Poor academic achievement

Poor psychosocial adjustment

Posttraumatic stress disorder


Prone to irritating others and creating tension socially

Quick tempered and emotionally reactive

Reacts to being bullied with provocation (fighting back) and then may claim self-defence

* A victim of bullying who reactively bullies others, typically younger children


Conduct problems and school disengagement

Depression and anxiety


Increased risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

More likely to carry weapons to school

Psychosomatic problems


Social ostracization by peers

Substance abuse



Increased risk of suicidal ideation, suicide attempts, and completed suicide

Increased substance abuse

Moderate to severe impairment in social functioning and intimate relationships

Posttraumatic stress disorder Psychiatric illnesses

Recognised consequences of childhood bullying (Dale, et al., 2014; Vaillancourt, 2017)

Physical health

Mental health

Societal problems


Poor appetite

Abdominal pain

Sleeping problems







Personality disorder

School absenteeism

Elective home education

Poor employability

Lowered income

Drug use

Offending behaviour

Bullying is relatively common among pre-teens. Australian research indicates it peaks in the middle primary years and gradually declines through the teenage years.

Bullying behaviours are traditionally thought of as occurring in the teenage years, and many resources addressing bullying are targeted at this age group. Evidence suggests, however, that bullying is common in the pre-teen years (e.g. one-third of year 5 students are affected by frequent bullying), and that there is a fairly steady downwards trend from the pre-teen years through the remainder of the school years (Robinson, 2020). Recent data from the Government of South Australia (2019) reveals that approximately 27% of year 4 to year 9 Australian students report being bullied every few weeks or more. Cyberbullying is less common than face-to-face bullying, with approximately one in five children experiencing online bullying in any year. Australian research indicates that bullying tends to peak during the early to middle primary years, and again just prior to the transition to secondary school.

Bullying is no longer confined to school. Therefore some bullying goes undetected leaving those involved unsupported.

There is a growing awareness that bullying is best addressed as a public health problem requiring a collaborative, community-based solution, and that prevention and early intervention approaches in the pre-teen years (and earlier) are needed for this purpose. The World Health Organisation have identified bullying as existing beyond schools. For example, cyberbullying means bullying can occur anytime and outside of a physical setting. Therefore, it is important to identifying key social and community touchpoints for pre-teens other than schools. One of these is health services (Robinson, 2020; Government of South Australia, 2019).

Pre-teens with peer problems are more likely to see a GP, paediatrician, or allied health worker than those not experiencing peer problems. One-third of parents say their GP could be a potential source of help if their child was being bullied. Furthermore, research indicated that 40% of children being bullied don’t disclose to parents. Therefore, primary health care professionals should be an option for children to disclose to because of:

  • the widespread prevalence of bullying.

  • the adverse consequences of bullying.

  • reluctance of some victims to seek help from parents or school authorities.

  • the limited effectiveness of school prevention programs (Robinson, 2020).

There are identifiable risk factors and warning signs for children who either engage in bullying or become a victim.

Understanding and addressing risk factors while building protective factors are important in early intervention to prevent bullying behaviours. Several risk factors are proposed in the literature, but caution is needed given the limitations of the quality of the evidence available (Robinson, 2020). Risk factors for bullying victimisation include (McClowry, 2017; Robinson, 2020):

  • Conduct problems, e.g. engaging in externalising behaviour

  • Social problems, e.g. lack adequate social skills, experiencing difficulty in solving social problems, being noticeably rejected and isolated by peers

  • Prior victimisation

  • Internalising problems, e.g. internalising symptoms, possessing negative self-related thinking

  • Coming from a negative community, family, and school environment

  • Vulnerability, e.g. have a disability, be overweight or obese, be sexually diverse

  • Behavioural problems

  • Learning disability

  • Identifying as lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender, queer, questioning, asexual, intersex, or as any other not defined by society’s labels

Children are more likely to engage in bullying if they experience strains or pressures in different settings, e.g. bullying might increase if there is:

  • Family conflict

  • Punishment by adults

  • Poor peer relationships

  • Experiences of development trauma or victimisation (Government of South Australia, 2019)

Warning signs for bullying

  • Mood disorders, psychosomatic or behavioral symptoms, substance abuse, self-harm behaviors, suicidal ideation or a suicide attempt, a decline in academic performance, and reports of school truancy.

  • Parental concerns, e.g. when a child suddenly needs more money for lunch, is having aggressive outbursts, or is exhibiting unexplained physical injuries.

Strategies exist to effectively address bullying, at both an individual and community level.

Supportive relationships with peers and family is one of the most important protective factors working against the effects of childhood bullying, for both children who experience bullying and those who are engage in the behaviour. Children who report experiencing frequent bullying but have a group of friends are less likely to experience internalising disorders, such as anxiety or depression. Therefore, supporting children to develop skills in building quality peer connections may help reduce the impact of childhood bullying. Supportive family relationships and home environments can also buffer the negative effects of childhood bullying (Emerging Minds, 2023). Other strategies include:

  1. Strengthen children’s involvement in community programs so they learn social skills, conflict resolution and problem solving.

  2. Strengthen community knowledge and awareness about bullying through

    • Educating parents around children’s behaviour, cyberbullying and cybersafety

    • Community education programs

    • Provision of children’s mental health services

    • Applying a public health approach to address children’s peer-to-peer bullying at a population level (Government of South Australia, 2019).

The Emerging Minds organisation consistently emphasises the need for children to have a voice in issues that impact on them. Rollbusch (2022) applies this theme to children who are bullied by maintaining that children are best able to describe their context, the people in it, and the impact that bullying behaviours have on them. Children can support practitioners in developing responses if practitioners are willing to ask. Children and practitioners can work together to explore the best response for that child’s context, whether the child is engaging in or experiencing bullying behaviour. In practice, this involves asking the child how they would like to address the situation, offering suggestions and seeking the child’s agreement or disagreement; then seeking a child’s permission before speaking with those around them (if safety is not an issue) before coming to a mutually agreed-upon solution.

Rollbusch (2022) make other points as well.

  • Labelling a child as a ‘bully’ or ‘victim’ can become self-fulfilling (e.g. indicate who a child is and how they will behave). This can reduce opportunities for change.

  • Work with a child to explore their connections in detail; highlight those connections that appear supportive to the child; and provide the child with skills or opportunities to enhance these connections. These are powerful ways to respond to bullying behaviour.

  • There is no one-size-fits-all approach; every situation needs to be looked at on an individual basis. Work with the child, with the parent and other important adults that surround the child (e.g. teachers and coaches). The more people involved in the child’s ecosystem the better.

  • Help the child see their sense of worth, to have the confidence to reach out to and connect with others.

Practice Approach

At a community level health practitioners can advocate for and support programs to address bullying, e.g. by liaising with schools, sports organisations, and other community agencies (McClowry et al., 2017).

Keeping in mind the suggestion by Rollbusch (immediately above) that practitioners should work closely with children to address bullying behaviour, at a direct practice level practitioners can:

1. Educate themselves in the risk factors and warning signs for bullying.

Refer to the Background Material section above

2. Screen for bullying (for both perpetrator and victim) if flagged by risk factors / warning signs.

Gates (2022b), who suggests bullying is best understood as a particular type of problem in a child’s social world, suggests questions that social workers can use to explore the child’s social experiences. Numerous questions are suggested under the headings: screening questions about school, exploring the child’s ideas about how to approach bullying, the child’s friendship network, and the quality of friendships. If questions are too confronting for the child, Gates suggests using the Strengths and Difficulties Questionnaire as a tool for assessing the child’s psychosocial wellbeing. This questionnaire can be accessed at . Gates also suggests an ecomap be constructed to map the network around a child and the type of relationship the child has with each person or organisation within his or her network (Link:

Stephens et al. (2018) suggest the following questions:

  • Do you feel safe at school? (Critical question)

  • How do you get along with teachers and other students?

  • Have your grades changed recently?

  • Many young people experience bullying at school or via social media. Have you ever had this happen to you or anyone you know? Or are you or is anyone you know being bullied through social media or other electronic means?

  • Follow-up questions: Is there anyone at school or at home you can talk to about your concerns? How could your parents help you with this problem?

McClowry et al. (2017) suggest a simple screening instrument could be used if children don’t wish to discuss bullying openly.



  1. I feel safe at school

Never | Sometimes | Always

2. I feel I belong at school

Never | Sometimes | Always

3. Students at school make fun of, bother, or hurt me

Never | Sometimes | Always

4. How often have you made fun of, bothered, or hurt another student at school?

I haven't | 1-2 times | 2-3 times | Several times a week

5. Where have you been made fun of, bothered, or hurt?

At school | Online | At home | Going to and from school | Other

6. Have you told anyone that you've been made fun of, bothered, or hurt?

Not applicable | Yes | No

McClowry also suggests parents be included in screening: ask them about any changes in behaviours or attitude their children have had at school and if they have talked to their children about bullying or witnessed their children being picked on.

3. Treat mental health issues that may arise because of bullying.

Once bullying has been identified, family physicians have an important role in screening for comorbid disorders, such a depression and anxiety, and in providing appropriate treatment (McClowry et al. (2017). Dale et al. (2014), Stephens er al. (2018) and Villiancourt et al. (2017) outline potential impacts of bullying on both perpetrator and victim in the Background Material above.

4. If necessary, be an effective referral point to other appropriate services.

Where it is relevant, a multidisciplinary collaboration between physician, the patient, the family, the clinical social worker or psychologist, or other school personnel can assist in creating a safe network of empathy for the patient and bring about social change (McClowry et al., 2017).

5. Provide resources for parents and children to use to address the bullying.

Quality resources are available on the internet and in print form in many countries. The Raising Children Network has several easy-to-read articles on how to support those children who are bullied or a bullying others. See The following are a selection of titles:

The Australian Institute of Family Studies focuses on children who bully and how parents and health professionals can approach the issue. See The following are a selection of titles:

Emerging Minds resources can be found at

6. Work with children and parents to address the bullying.

Give the child a voice in any response to bullying. Work with the child and parent to gain an idea of the context of the bullying behaviour, i.e. give the child a voice in the response to bullying behaviour, or in how the child will reduce his or her own bullying behaviour. Check with the child before implementing any possible solutions—what does he or she think? (Rollbusch, 2022)

There is generally a lack of quality guidance around best practice in identifying and responding to bullying in primary health care, and what little exists is usually heavily focused on victims of bullying, with little attention paid to children who engage in bullying behaviours or who are victim/bullies (Robinson, 2020). Prosser (2020) suggests an approach for prejudice-based bullying that is helpful. Prosser suggests health professionals choose from the following approaches:

  • Validate the child’s experience by talking about and naming the bullying. Gather details.

o “How often are you bullied?”

o “How long have you been bullied?”

o “Where are you bullied?” (E.g. school, sports, home, neighbourhood)

o “How are you bullied?” (E.g. hitting, insults, gossiping, text messaging)

o “How do you feel when you are bullied?”

o McClowry et al. (2017) suggest some children and adolescents may be reluctant to admit they are being cyberbullied out of frear that their online time will be restricted or their electronics confiscated.

  • If appropriate, openly discuss discrimination

o Name the issue and discuss with the child how they feel about it. You should ask directly whether the child is experiencing bullying because of a particular attribute. This may be a relief for the child as it can provide a safe space for them to open up about their experiences.

o Don’t ignore it or tell the child to ignore it, as this may reinforce the discrimination.

o Affirm that discrimination is never okay.

  • Encourage reporting of the bullying (but don’t leave this all up to the child)

o Make a plan with the child about how they will tell their teacher or coach about the bullying

o Help the child write a letter to their teacher or coach asking for support

o Work on a list about what the child would like to see changed, to share with the adults in charge at their club or school

o Some bullied children will fear identification of the abuser or fear they will be treated unfavourably by their peers. Explain that revealing the bully may help end the cycle, not only for them, but for others as well.

  • Discuss with the parents and carers the impact of bullying on their child; encourage them to report bullying. As McClowry et al. (2017) point out, it is important to provide the parents with direct, clear information about bullying and its impact so that they are better able to engage in shared decision making and to appropriately participate in the plan to improve their child’s overall health.

  • Support parents to build children’s social connections (Gates, 2022a) through having regular conversations with children about experiences with other people, spending time with their children, and being involved in children’s social media and other digital use. While doing this, look out for signs of bullying.

  • Reframe negative messages they will have heard

o Help the child understand that it is the stereotypes and biases associated with these characteristics that are the problem, not the child or behaviour

o Ask some questions and help the child make a list of things they can be proud of

o Help them to integrate these positive aspects into their sense of self so that the bullying doesn’t define them

o Remind the child that their identity is something that they can celebrate, and that the cause of the problem lies with other people’s misperceptions and prejudices

  • Ensure the child maintains agency and control over their experience by supporting them to develop coping strategies

  • Facilitate connection and belonging by linking the child and their family to peer support groups and identifying positive role models

Gates (2022c) provides guidance for parents who discussing bullying behaviour with the school, suggesting a number of key practices that do not necessarily have to be implemented in order. There is a summary of this article in the Appendix that follows the Supporting Material/References section.

  • Validate concerns,

  • Gather information,

  • Inform about rights,

  • Brief family on how to handle bullying,

  • Check for impacts,

  • Activate school responses,

  • Enable protective supports,

  • Partner with the family along the journey.

Gates also examines in detail the common types of school responses and issues to be prepared for.

6a. What approaches are suggested for those who bully others?

The articles in point 5 above from the Australian Institute of Family Studies are quite comprehensive, especially Working with families whose child is bullying at The Raising Children Network also addresses this issue at The Raising Children Network article suggests (in brief) the following strategies that may be useful when working with children and parents:

  • Tell the child their bullying behaviour is not okay.

  • Work with the school or organisation, that should have guidelines around bullying. Support the organisation’s decisions. Check in with the organisation regularly.

  • Look for reasons for the bullying. This may uncover something that can be changed to stop it.

o Is the child being bullied?

o Is the child joining in bullying to avoid being bullied?

o Is the child seeing bullying at home or in other settings such as TV or videos?

o Does the child bully to feel more in control or because he or she has low self-esteem?

o Is the child misunderstanding messages about ‘standing up for themselves’?

  • If bullying continues other strategies could be to (i) implement a behaviour contract between parents, organisation/school and child, (ii) organising counselling, (iii) be a role model for the child by treating others with respect and kindness, (iv) work on raising your child’s self-esteem, (iv) give the child plenty of positive attention, (v) set limits and consequences for behaviour, (vi) manage parental conflicts constructively.

Supporting Material / References

(Available on request)

New resources to share with families: Supporting children through experiences of bullying

Bullying is a common childhood experience that can cause physical and psychological harm. It’s important for all children and parents to talk about childhood bullying, know what to do if it occurs and how to best prevent it.

This suite of resources from Emerging Minds Families ( has been created to provide information and practical advice to parents and family members who are concerned about their child experiencing or being involved in bullying. The fact sheets include tips and strategies for supporting children, and information about services and helplines families may wish to contact. They can be accessed by searching on the emerging minds site.

  • In focus: Bullying and child mental health

  • Finding out your child is experiencing or engaging in bullying (fact sheet)

  • Signs of bullying parents should look out for (fact sheet)

  • Understanding your child’s experience of bullying (fact sheet)

  • Taking action to stop your child from being bullied (fact sheet)

  • Making a plan with your child to address bullying (fact sheet)

  • Protecting your child from bullying harm (fact sheet)

  • Understanding and addressing your child’s bullying behaviour (fact sheet)

  • Helping your child to stop their bullying behaviour (fact sheet)

Dale, J., Russell, R., & Wolke, D. (2014). Intervening in primary care against childhood bullying: An increasingly pressing public health need. Jlournal of the Royal Society of Medicine, 107(6), 219-223. doi: 0.1177/0141076814525071

Government of South Australia. (2019). Connected, A community approach to bullying prevention within the school gates and beyond. Retrieved from

McClowry, R. J., Miller, M. N., & Mills, G. D. (2017). What family physicians can do to combat bullying. The Journal of Family Practice, 66(2), 82-89.

Prosser, S. (2020). Prejudice-motivated bullying and its impact on child mental health and wellbeing. Emerging Minds. Retrieved from

Robinson, E. (2020). Identifying and responding to bullying in the pre-teen years: The role of primary health practitioners. Emerging Minds. Retrieved from

Rollbusch, N. (2022). Key considerations for practitioners responding to childhood bullying. Emerging Minds.

Stephens, M. M., Cook-Fasano, H. T., & Sibbaluca, K. (2018). Childhood bullying: Implications for physicians. American Family Physician, 97(3), 187-192. Retrieved from

Vaillancourt, T., Faris, R., & Mishna, F. (2017). Cyberbullying in children and youth: Implications for health and clinical practice. The Canadian Journal of Psychiatry, 62(6), 368-373. doi: 10.1177/0706743716684791


Supporting Families To Navigate School Responses To Bullying

Gates, A. (2022). Supporting families to navigate school responses to bullying. Emerging Minds.


This resource describes a psycho-social, strengths-based approach to supporting families as they navigate school responses to bullying involvement. This process involves acting as the family’s ‘coach’ – you help them identify what needs attention and what resources they can use to best address the child’s experience of bullying. It is your role to help the family arrive at their own solutions, rather than solving problems for them.

Key practices

There are eight key practices when assisting families to navigate bullying. They do not have to be taken in order and effective practice may involve spending considerably more time on one than another depending on the needs of the family.

1. Validate concerns. It is essential to take the time to communicate that bullying is a serious issue and the family is right to bring it to the attention of others.

2. Gather information. Ask sensitively for more information about the nature and extent of the bullying. Different ways for the child to communicate should be offered where necessary, e.g. talk with or without the parent present, allow the parent to relay information, or write down the details (e.g. a questionnaire).

At this stage ask about the child’s social world: who they get on well with, whom they experience difficulties with, the quality of their friendships, how others respond when bullying occurs, whether other children are experiencing bullying and if the same people are involved. Include online social experiences.

3. Inform about rights. Not all families will be aware of the school’s responsibility to take measures to protect children from harm, including bullying. Be mindful of how a family’s understanding may influence how the approach the school.

a. If they don’t want to make a fuss, they may be reluctant to pursue any action that the school takes, however ineffective it is.

b. The family may have a poor existing relationship with the school for a number of reasons.

c. They may be confident in advocating but have unrealistic expectations.

d. Recently immigrated families may not understand Australian culture and the role they might play in supporting their child.

In general schools will want to effectively support children so encourage the family’s expectation of cooperation and understanding from the school.

4. Brief family on how to handle bullying. Be careful how these principles are presented as it is essential the child (or family) doesn’t feel it’s their responsibility to stop the bullying.

a. For children: avoid fighting back, either physically or verbally; stay calm (count to 10 or walk away); tell someone about it; spend time with friends who make you feel good; go to see the school counsellor or year coordinator.

b. For parents: Don’t get directly involved with children who are bullying or their families; thank your child for talking to you and encourage them to talk to someone at the school; reassure the child it is not his or her fault; model optimism that the situation will improve; support the child’s access to positive social activities, e.g. time with friends; raise bullying with the school.

c. Cyberbullying may require special measures: blocking people on social media and SMS; changing passwords; deleting abusive messages and showing them to an adult; monitoring the child’s online presence.

5. Check for impacts. Check for any of the following impacts on the health and wellbeing of children: depression, anxiety, self-harm, suicidal ideation, difficulty sleeping, a drop in academic performance, PTSD, higher weight. If necessary, refer the family to a specialist practitioner for intervention.

6. Activate school responses. Children may have mixed feelings about contacting the school as school responses are not always effective. Be prepared to listen to families about their reservations about approaching the school. Point out one approach may not be enough. Furthermore, the parents may need to approach the school without the child’s consent and then discuss with the child why this was necessary. Speak to the child’s main classroom teacher in the first instance, then the school wellbeing coordinator (e.g. year coordinator, leading teacher). Ask for a copy of the school bullying policy. Practitioners could discuss with the family whether practitioners should write a letter to the school outlining their observations. Advise the parents to use a calm and respectful tone when engaging with the school—express frustrations in a productive way.

7. Enable protective supports. It is important to support a child to be ‘socially hopeful’ by providing opportunities for positive interactions. Discuss close peer relationships, how they might be strengthened and how new ones can be built. Don’t assume parents know how to help the child build relationships with other children. Examine opportunities outside of school – sport, drama, art, etc. In addition, talk to families about positive experiences they can share. Identify areas where the child can build skills and a sense of achievement—supporting the child’s self-esteem.

8. ‘Hold’ the family through the process. The practitioner should partner with the family along the journey. Talk to the family about checking in regularly. Checking regularly will also help monitor any impacts on the child’s wellbeing.

Common types of school responses

Reactive approaches:

  • direct sanctions on the child engaging in bullying behaviour,

  • helping the child experiencing bullying to develop social and assertiveness skills,

  • mediation (the two students meet with an adult),

  • restorative practices (child who is engaging in bullying and child experiencing the behaviour meet),

  • support group method (teacher forms a group of children, including those who have engaged in bullying behaviour and explains how the child is being bullied and asks each member of the group how he or she can support the child; the situation is monitored),

  • shared concern approach (one-on-one meetings with the person engaging in bullying behaviour, then group meeting of these people, then group meeting with those still engaging in bullying behaviour and the child).

Proactive approaches:

  • playground supervision by highly visible staff to deter problematic behaviour,

  • classroom management strategies,

  • parent training activities about how to identify and respond to bullying,

  • teaching all children how to support others who are targets of bullying behaviour,

  • education/awareness campaigns at school assemblies or information nights,

  • classroom work around empathy,

  • respect for others and bullying,

  • encouraging reporting,

  • setting up a buddy program.

Issues to be prepared for

  • Inadequate school responses: convey optimism that things will improve without setting up unrealistic expectations. Keep families informed of their options.

  • Future occurrences: Address these if they arise, being mindful they can have a detrimental impact on a child’s sense of being socially hopeful.

  • Self-harm and suicide ideation: The Longitudinal Study of Australia’s Children indicate that in the 14- to 15-year-old age group, children who had experienced bullying behaviour were more than three times as likely to have self- harmed and more than two times as likely to have attempted suicide. Adolescents who had engaged in bullying behaviour were more than two times as likely to have self-harmed and more than two times as likely to have attempted suicide. Children who had both experienced and engaged in bullying behaviour fared worst of all, being more than four times as likely to have self-harmed and more than 2.5 times as likely to have attempted suicide.


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