What to Do if You’re Being Bullied
Being bullied is not your fault. No one deserves to be bullied.
For tamariki/rangatahi who are being bullied
Bullying is not a normal part of growing up. You have the right to be treated with respect and feel safe whether you’re at home, school, playing sport, in a community group or are out and about.
If you’re being bullied there are things that you can do to keep yourself safe:
Stay calm, keep your cool, say nothing and walk away.
Stay focused on things that make you feel confident and proud of yourself. Try not to let their words or actions get to you.
Get support. Tell someone you trust like a friend, parent, teacher, coach or guidance counsellor.
Try to avoid areas that may be unsafe and if you can, be around other people or in busy places during lunchtime or after school.
Be with friends who make you feel good and who will be your upstanders. People who are mean to you, exclude you or spread rumours about you are not good friends.
Be aware of how the bullying is making you feel. If you feel sad or unsafe, are avoiding whānau and friends, are having trouble sleeping, concentrating or finding school difficult, it’s important that you seek help from a trusted adult. You can also free text or call a confidential helpline.
Keep yourself busy by doing things you enjoy. Sport, listening to, or playing music, reading, arts and crafts, or catching up with good friends and whānau.
If you are being bullied online or via a digital device visit our cyberbullying explained webpage for tips and information.
Remember that people who bully others often lash out and hurt people because something is wrong in their own lives. People who bully need help and kindness (where appropriate), too.
It can be hard if you know or suspect your tamariki or rangatahi is being bullied. It’s important that you talk with them about your concerns and take all allegations seriously. Try asking general questions about how school is going to build a robust picture of what’s going on for them.
If your tamariki or rangatahi is experiencing bullying, they may be:
Anxious, negative about school or kura, or not want to go at all.
Frightened or anxious about travel to and from school, take a different route or ask to be driven there.
Reluctant to join in activities they’ve previously enjoyed.
Regularly come home hungry (someone might have taken their lunch or lunch money) or with belongings damaged or missing.
Struggling with schoolwork.
Coming home with bruises, cuts or scratches they can’t explain.
Spending more time alone or have a sudden loss of friends.
Seemingly unhappy or insecure, with low self-esteem or self-confidence.
Anxious about using their computer or mobile phone, visibly upset after using a device or quickly close the screen or hide their mobile phone. See our cyberbullying page for tips.
Saying things like 'nobody likes me', 'I haven’t got any friends', or talking about wanting to hurt or get back at someone.
Refusing to talk about what’s wrong or happening to them.
If your tamariki or rangatahi tells you about a bullying problem they’re experiencing, it’s important to listen to them, but try to avoid casting judgment or finding ‘quick fixes’. You can support them by:
Praising them for coming to you and looking for solutions.
Validating how they are feeling by saying something like ‘I can see that this is really upsetting for you.’
Working through some ideas together. Ask how best you can help support them.
Reassuring them that they’ve done the right thing by talking to you, and that bullying is not their fault.
Letting them know other ways to seek help if bullying happens. For example, talking to a teacher or trusted friends, or calling a helpline.
Reminding them that they have a right to feel safe.
Regularly checking in with them about the situation and how school or kura is going.
Create a plan
Work with your tamariki or rangatahi to create a plan which lists the actions they can take when they are bullied. Encourage them to take the lead on this plan, with your support, as it helps them to find a solution and feel in control of the situation.
Your plan may include:
Noting immediate actions they can take when bullying happens, such as ignoring the bullying behaviour. If that doesn’t work, they could tell the person to stop. If the bullying continues, they can walk away and tell someone.
Thinking about who they’ll tell when bullying happens, so they have support.
If bullying happens in certain places, suggest ways to avoid these areas.
Encouraging them to stick with their friends, in and out of school or kura, or to stay in busy places when out and about.
Letting your child spend more time doing things they enjoy in a safe environment. Suggest trying new activities and encouraging them to bring friends home.
Encourage upstander behaviour
If your child tells you about a friend being bullied or a bullying incident at school, they may feel powerless to do anything about it. Encourage them to be an upstander and take a stand against bullying.
It makes a huge difference if they do – it stops bullying behaviour nearly 60% of the time!
What to do if your child is bullying others?
While it can be hard to hear this, there are some tips you can work through with your tamariki or rangatahi to move forward in a positive way.
Explain what bullying can look like, the different forms that it can take. Give examples of bullying, like leaving people out, saying mean things (in person or online), hurting people, taking someone's things, etc.
Don’t grill your child about what you’ve heard, as this can make them feel like they need to justify their behaviour or lie about what happened.
Explain what you’ve heard about their behaviour and that it’s important to work on this together.
Talk about how the other child/ren may be feeling because of their behaviour. Support them to understand how this would feel for the child being bullied.
Try to understand why they have behaved like this. Is there something happening to them that’s making them act in this way towards others?
Talk through some solutions together. Praise them for coming up with good ideas or understanding how it would make the other child feel.
Work with the school or club to praise and encourage any kind and friendly behaviour they notice when your tamariki or rangatahi is with their peers.