Victorian government schools take bullying very seriously and have guidelines for its prevention and management.

Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behaviour by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear.

What is bullying?

 There are some specific types of bullying behaviour:

  •  verbal or written abuse - such as targeted name-calling or jokes, or displaying offensive posters
  •  violence - including threats of violence
  • sexual harassment - unwelcome or unreciprocated conduct of a sexual nature, which could reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or intimidation
  • homophobia and other hostile behaviour towards students relating to gender and sexuality
  • discrimination including racial discrimination - treating people differently because of their identity
  • cyberbullying - either online or via mobile phone.

What is not bullying?

There are also some behaviours, which, although they might be unpleasant or distressing, are not bullying:

  •  mutual conflict - which involves a disagreement, but not an imbalance of power. Unresolved mutual conflict can develop into bullying if one of the parties targets the other repeatedly in retaliation.
  • single-episode acts of nastiness or physical aggression, or aggression directed towards many different people, is not bullying
  • social rejection or dislike is not bullying unless it involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others.

All Victorian government schools are required to include anti-bullying strategies in their Student Engagement Policy (or their Student Code of Conduct). More information about the Student Engagement Policy is available at: Student Engagement and Inclusion Guidance.

Schools have a duty of care to take reasonable measures to prevent foreseeable risks of injury to their students.

How can I tell if my child is being bullied or bullying others and what can I do?

Discovering your child is being bullied or bullying others is stressful and upsetting. Most parents initially experience anger, confusion and guilt.

Signs that may mean your child is being bullied include:

  • wanting to stay home
  • wanting to travel to school a different way to avoid bullies
  • being very tense or unhappy after going to school and refusing to talk about it
  • changed behaviour and a loss of confidence or self-esteem
  • physical signs, such as bruises or scratches, weight gain or loss
  • talking about hating school or not having any friends
  • doing poorly in school work.

These signs might indicate a problem other than bullying so it is important to discuss with your child what is bothering them.

For more information see: Warning Signs of Bullying.

What you can do?

If your child is being bullied or bullying others you should:

  • listen carefully to your child and show concern and support
  • give considered advice – don’t encourage your child to fight back as this will most likely increase bullying
  • help your child to develop positive strategies – such as saying ‘Leave me alone’, calmly walking away or avoiding situations that might expose them to further bullying
  • ask your child questions to understand if there is a repeated pattern of bullying
  • establish what, when, where the incident(s) happened and who was involved
  • work with your child’s school to solve the problem by establishing a plan for dealing with the current situation and future bullying incidents.

You can then work with your child’s school to solve the problem by contacting the school and making an appointment to discuss the issue. Do not directly approach any other student or their family.

For more information see: Bully Stopper's Parent's Page .

More information

Bully Stoppers is the Department's online resource dedicated to bullying prevention. Developed by a range of experts, it provides advice for teachers, parents and students on how to identify, respond to and prevent bullying in their school community, see: Bully Stoppers