What is School Bullying?

What is Bullying?

"Bullying involves an initial desire to hurt, this desire is expressed in action, someone is hurt, the action is directed by a more powerful person or group, it is without justification, it is typically repeated, and it is done so with evident enjoyment." Ken Rigby (1998).

School Bullying

What is School Bullying?

Psychological, emotional, cyber, social or physical harassment of one student by another at school or within the school community. This includes at school and within its grounds, in transit between school and home, local shopping and sporting centres, at parties or local parks and in cyberspace. The playground is the most common place for bullying to occur.

What are some of the forms of bullying?

  • Verbal (most common, most painful & longest lasting impact) e.g. teasing, harassment and name-calling
  • Exclusion
  • Threats
  • Malicious rumours
  • Physical violence
  • Damage to property
  • Cyber bullying (may be traced and blocked) - e.g. texting, face book, phone, manipulating photos, YouTube.
  • Anti-social (exclusion, gossip and non-verbal body language)

What are the extents of bullying?

  • Direct to indirect harassment.
  • From minor irritation to major assault, from "just having a bit of fun" to breaking the law.

When does bullying occur and for how long?

  • A student can be bullied by one child or mobbed by a group for years.
  • Bullying can happen sporadically or over a long period of time.
  • Some children are bullied wherever they go, at any school.
  • Bullying occurs in any school: small, large, single sex, co-educational, traditional and progressive.
  • Bullying occurs in primary, secondary, boarding school and tertiary institutions.

Who are the bullies and victims?

  • Apart from saints or sociopaths, most children have the potential to bully, become a bystander or be targeted.
  • Both parents and teachers can bully or experience bullying within the school community.
  • Research shows that there is more bullying in the "staffroom" than the "classroom"; this creates a very negative, toxic role model.

What do children think about bullying?

  • Many children believe that bullying cannot be stopped.
  • They believe that if they report it that nothing is done or it gets worse and often this is correct, according to Assoc. Prof Ken Rigby.
  • Most children say that they would feel happier and learn better if they felt safer at school.
  • Bullying is one of the major reasons children contact help lines and leave schools.

Bullying is subjective - it is all about perception and your own experience, but it can cause serious damage.


  • The crucial feature - target feels powerless and bullied.
  • The critical issue - extent of physical, psychological and other damage that injures the victim.
  • The impact on the target is made worse by fear of future attacks and fear adults won't help.


  • Many bullies don't realise at a conscious level that their behaviours are mean or abusive.
  • At an unconscious level they know that they're taking the target's power away because otherwise they couldn't do it.
  • Most bullies don't know that their bullying behaviours can boomerang back later on and hurt them.


  • Most children have either been bullied, bully others or witnessed bullying at school.
  • More than one in five children are bullied regularly at school.
  • About one in five children can bully.
  • In American schools:
    • 160,000 + children miss school every day, due to fear of attack or intimidation by other students.
    • 20% of students carry weapons to school to feel safer.
    • 22% of students are victimised at the beginning of the year and 8% are victimised during the remainder of the year.
    • 50% of students knew of a student who had switched schools to feel safer.
    • School results are 3% to 6% lower when students are bullied (APA Monitor. Oct 2011)
  • 40% of suicide victims had been bullied at school. (Victorian Coroner 2007)
  • National School Safety Centre, USA, estimates that 525,000 "attacks, shakedowns and robberies" occur in an average month in public secondary schools.
  • Two thirds of school shootings were conducted by victims of bullying.
  • More than 50% of teachers report being bullied at school. (BBC TV 2006, NSW Teachers Union Study 2004)
  • The National Education Association USA reports that every day 6,250 teachers are threatened with bodily harm and 260 are actually physically assaulted.
  • 30% - 50% of young people experience cyber-bullying, including death threats. (Canada, Bill Belsey)