Bullying and cyberbullying

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 anxiety or depression.


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.

Types of bullying

There are different types of bullying. Below are some of the more common forms:


Hurting someone using technology, via email, chat rooms, text messages, discussion groups, online social media, instant messaging or websites. For example, being teased or made fun of online, having unpleasant comments, pictures or videos about you sent or posted on social media or websites, having someone use your screen name or password and pretending to be you to hurt someone else.


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.


Punching, tripping, kicking or stealing and/or destroying someone else's property. Unwanted kissing or touching.


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.

Taking action

When someone is being bullied there are two important things to think about – looking after yourself or the person being bullied, and taking action to try to stop the bullying.

  • Ask them to stop.
  • Walk away or ignore them.
  • Talk to someone.
  • Keep a diary.
  • Report the abuse.
  • Focus on looking after yourself.
  • If things don’t improve get support from a friend, family member or counsellor.

Looking after yourself

There are many people who can support you, including friends, teachers, family members, counsellors, managers or parents. They can talk with you about how you are coping and what support you need. If your feelings of stress, anxiety or sadness get too intense, a counsellor, youth worker or doctor can help. You can talk to a counsellor in person (at the local medical clinic, headspace), online (beyondblue Support Serviceeheadspace, Kids Helpline) or by phone (beyondblue Support ServiceKids Helpline).

"The biggest challenge of my life was to beat the depression and get help to overcome it. ‘Believing in myself’ was the most important thing to my recovery. I had to believe that I could do it. I had to set my mind to believing that I could lose the weight and then that would be my ‘step’ to feeling better about myself and dealing with all my other challenges and anxiety." - Todd Nester
2013 Biggest Loser contestant and beyondblue advocate, 15

Todd Nester