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Facts about bullying

Bullying can happen to anyone. It might happen to you, your friend or someone online. People being bullied often feel powerless and alone, or worried about what the bully might do next. The impact of bullying can last longer than the bullying itself. Experiencing bullying can increase a person’s chances of developing one or more mental health problems.

What is bullying?

Bullying is behaviour that is meant to be hurtful, targets a person or group of people, happens more than once and embarrasses, threatens or intimidates the person being bullied. It may happen in person but can also happen out of sight or online. Bullies don’t always work alone. The impact of bullying can be even greater when a group of people begin to act together. Cyberbullying happens at least every few weeks to about one in 10 young people, and workplace bullying is also a common experience reported by young people. Here are some common types of bullying:

  • Cyberbullying: Targeting someone using technology, via email, chat rooms, text messages, discussion groups, online social media, instant messaging or websites. This may include being teased or made fun of online, having unpleasant comments, pictures or videos about you sent or posted on social media or websites, or having someone use your screen name or password and pretending to be you to hurt someone else. Find out how to protect yourself online.
  • Social bullying: Leaving people out, not inviting someone to social occasions, stopping a conversation when someone walks in the room, gossiping, bitching, or talking about someone behind their back.
  • Physical bullying: Punching, tripping, kicking, unwanted kissing or touching, or stealing or destroying someone else's property.
  • Verbal or emotional bullying: Name calling or put downs, threats, teasing, ridiculing, intimidation and stalking.

The impact of bullying

The experience of being bullied is different for everyone. People may feel alone, anxious, scared, miserable and powerless, while others may feel overwhelmed by sadness, ashamed or rejected. They may feel there is no escape from the bully or that there is no hope that things will change. Anger is another common reaction, as the attack from the bully is unfair and unwarranted.

Bullying can affect every part of a person’s life, including relationships with their friends and family. It can affect a person’s confidence and performance at school, in a sports team or at work. The person being bullied might change how they look or act to try to avoid being bullied further. They might also withdraw from social activities or use unhelpful coping strategies, like drugs and alcohol or self-harming, to manage painful feelings.

More information

Have you bullied others?

It is a big step to admit that you are bullying others. People bully others for all kinds of reasons, and if you want help to change, Kids Helpline counsellors can help you work on new ways to interact with people. You can also tell someone you trust that you think you might need help.


This content was sourced from the beyondblue, Kids Helpline and cyber[smart:] websites (2014).

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Last updated:
25 June 2018
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