Bullying roles

It is important to recognise bullying behaviours and make it clear they are unacceptable, but it is also important to try not to label students as 'a bully'.

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Bullying is not acceptable

Most students don't want bullying to occur but often don't know what to do about it. It's important that all forms of bullying are taken seriously and that schools, parents and students work together to ensure that everyone understands that bullying is not acceptable - ever.

Bullying roles

People in a bullying scenario may take on one of the following roles:

  • a person who engages in bullying behaviour
  • a target who is subjected to the bullying behaviour
  • an assistant who assists the bullying behaviour and actively joins in
  • a supporter who encourages and gives silent approval to the bullying, by smiling, laughing or making comments
  • a silent bystander who sees or knows about someone being bullied but is passive and does nothing, this may be an adult bystander
  • a defender who supports the student who is being bullied by intervening, getting teacher support or comforting them.

All adults, including teachers, school staff and parents, should model positive bystander behaviour and intervene if they observe bullying behaviour occurring between students. Standing by and doing nothing, or leaving students to 'sort it out' themselves, sends the message to the whole school community that the bullying behaviour is being condoned.

Young people are still learning and practicing social skills. Everyone has the capacity to change their behaviour but being given a label can stick and make these changes much harder.