Bullying in Schools

Bullying in Schools

Table of Contents

Bullying is a concerning issue that many children may face during their school years. It is defined by the three components of bullying;

  1. Repeated actions or threats.
  2. Intention to cause harm.
  3. A power imbalance.

There are various forms of physical and emotional bullying, which are essential for teachers and parents to be aware of. These forms include;

  • Physical bullying
  • Verbal bullying
  • Social bullying
  • Cyberbullying

The Bible's message about bullying is rooted in the commandment to love others as we love ourselves. In Mark 12:31, Jesus says, "Love your neighbour as yourself." This teaching emphasises the value of empathy and compassion, reminding us to treat others with the same care and respect that we desire for ourselves.

ACC is whole-heartedly committed to the mission of ensuring each student is ‘well known, well loved, and well taught’. This mission stretches beyond the teaching staff, to encourage students to be on mission with their peers in treating others as they would like to be treated. Therefore, ACC takes a strong stance and ever-delicate approach when dealing with allegations and incidents of bullying in schools. ACC aims to effectively address this crucial issue in schools by utilising government policies and campaigns as the baseline standard, while actively supporting each student involved through preventive education, modelling Christ-like communication strategies, and consistently applying policy and procedures.

ACC’s Response to Bullying

ACC unequivocally condemns all forms of bullying, discrimination, and harassment. In recognising the insidious nature of bullying and its reflection of human frailty, ACC acknowledges the necessity of both preventive and responsive measures. These measures aim to empower young individuals to navigate challenging relationships and conflicts in a biblical, constructive and transformative manner.

Preventative Measures

Each school community is tasked with establishing a culture that actively adopts strategies and implements measures to promote child wellbeing and prevent harm to children and young people. This crucial endeavour commences with the creation of clear documentation that is readily available and effectively communicated to teachers, students, parents, and the broader school community. Through a child’s school journey, this might look like:

  1. Honest and frank enrolment interviews that address bullying. The College ensures that everyone is aware of what we mean by the term bullying, what that looks like in practice, our zero tolerance position towards bullying and how it will be handled.
  2. New student inductions that clearly delineate between acceptable and unacceptable behaviours. In practical terms, this means delving into concepts like "respect" and engaging students in real-life scenarios to clarify our community's expectations for conflict resolution and fostering healthy relationships. It is helping new students understand “how we do things here.
  3. Annual reminders for all students at an age appropriate level of community expectations. Current school students still need to be reminded of the College’s expectations concerning appropriate behaviours. In reflecting a “clear is kind” approach to all expectations in the College, this acknowledges the need for ongoing reminder about the things we value, expect and will insist upon in a school community.
  4. Ongoing education and training. By supporting the use of government provided resources, annual campaigns and provision of school based training, such as using resources from Christian groups like Peacewise, we can set young people up to have better relationships and resolve conflict in a healthy way.
  5. Parent education is a proactive approach in preventing bullying or detecting it early, enabling quicker intervention and support. Bullying tends to go unnoticed by adults until it escalates significantly. Hence, it's essential to empower parents with insights into bullying and equip them with effective response strategies. This support is pivotal for effectively addressing and preventing bullying incidents. Practical measures may include offering access to comprehensive parent guides, such as those available through resources like the Australian Institute of Family Studies, such as “Helping your child stop bullying: A guide for parents.”

Responsive Measures

Responding to allegations of bullying in schools requires wisdom, time, objectivity and a consistent application of policy and procedures. When combined with the preventative measures applied above, schools have the opportunity to support young people through difficult and often painful situations, and do so in a manner that demonstrates the gospel in action.

  1. Schools must be well-versed in their policies and adhere strictly to their established procedures. Bullying allegations are immensely challenging for all parties involved and carry significant gravity. It is crucial that students receive procedural fairness throughout the entire process, and the best way to ensure this is by adhering to established policies and procedures designed to address such allegations.
  2. Responding to a bullying allegation often requires a significant amount of time. Determining the truth of a matter can be challenging, and it may necessitate gathering accounts from multiple witnesses to fully understand the situation.
  3. Schools must be prepared to respond to confirmed acts of bullying with consequences, as outlined in their behaviour policy. This may include school disciplinary action, referrals to external agencies, such as the police, and potential suspension or termination of enrolment.
  4. Schools must be prepared to address bullying with a broad range of intervention support methods that are in addition to direct sanctions, addressing underlying causation and matters of the heart. An example of this would include Restorative Practices, which prioritise giving voice to victims and guiding young individuals through a process of genuine apologies and, when suitable, fostering authentic forgiveness. One way to engage in restorative practice is through the use of "Circles." This method centres around ensuring each individual involved is heard, typically requiring both the perpetrator (bully) and the victim to participate actively in the dialogue.
  5. Investing into student wellbeing services is a sign that schools take bullying seriously. Providing the time to address allegations of bullying requires a financial investment, which can look like:
    1. Having executives on staff with a focus on student wellbeing and safety, and allocating time to staff to support different grade levels to follow up matters promptly.
    2. School pastoral care structures that ensure every student can identify 1-2 staff members with whom they feel safe to report bullying matters.
    3. Employment of school counsellors and other professionals with expertise and credentials in student wellbeing.
    4. Connected services with the broader community.

Tips for Parents

Navigating the issue of bullying as a parent can be challenging, but there are several proactive steps you can take to support your child and address bullying effectively:

  • Open Communication: Maintain open and honest communication with your child. Encourage them to share their experiences and feelings, and assure them that you're there to listen and support.
  • Recognise the Signs: Be vigilant about any changes in your child's behaviour, mood, or demeanour. Sudden shifts in their attitude, reluctance to go to school, or unexplained injuries could indicate bullying.
  • Educate Your Child: Teach your child about what bullying is, how to identify it, and the importance of reporting any incidents. Ensure they understand that bullying is not their fault.
  • Build Confidence: Help your child develop confidence and resilience. Encourage them to engage in activities they enjoy and excel in, which can boost their self-esteem.
  • Encourage Friendships: Foster healthy friendships that can provide emotional support and a sense of belonging. Encourage your child to interact with peers who treat them with kindness and respect.
  • Establish Trust: Make sure your child feels comfortable discussing their concerns with you. Avoid judgement and create an environment where they can share their experiences openly.
  • Manage your reactions and gather accurate information: It's normal to feel emotional upon learning that your child has been involved in bullying, whether as a victim or a perpetrator. To best support your child, maintain a calm demeanour, actively listen to your child and others involved, take time to digest the information before reacting, and approach discussions with your child's school with an open mind when addressing the issue.
  • Contact the School: If you suspect bullying, reach out to your child's school to discuss the situation with teachers, counsellors, or chaplins. Collaborate on effective strategies to address the issue.
  • Document Incidents: Keep a record of any incidents, including dates, times, locations, and details of what happened. This documentation can be useful when discussing the situation with your child’s school.
  • Teach Assertiveness: Help your child develop assertiveness skills to stand up for themselves without escalating conflicts. Role-playing scenarios can be helpful.
  • Monitor Online Activity: If your child uses social media or other online platforms, ensure you're aware of their online interactions and provide guidance on safe internet use.
  • Seek Professional Help: If your child's well-being is significantly impacted, consider seeking support from a counsellor, therapist, or psychologist who specialises in bullying and child behaviour.
  • Address Cyberbullying: Teach your child about responsible internet use, including not sharing personal information and reporting any instances of cyberbullying.
  • Engage with the School: Attend parent-teacher conferences, school events, and workshops related to bullying prevention. This involvement shows your commitment to creating a safe school environment.

Remember, your support can make a significant difference in your child's well-being. By staying informed, communicating openly, and taking proactive steps, you can empower your child to navigate bullying challenges with resilience and confidence.

Resources for parents on bullying

The following resources are widely available and recognised as providing valuable advice to parents. Given the nature of their content, it is advisable that parents should consider the following advice carefully when sharing with their children.

  1. Bullying. No Way!

A comprehensive Australian website providing resources for parents, educators, and students to address and prevent bullying. It offers advice, fact sheets, and strategies to create safe environments. 2. Kids Helpline
Australia's national 24/7 telephone and online counselling service for young people aged 5 to 25. It provides support on various issues, including bullying. 3. Friendly Schools
Provides resources and programs to prevent and address bullying in schools. The website includes tips and tools for parents to support their children. 4. Beyond Blue
While primarily focused on mental health, Beyond Blue offers resources and support for dealing with bullying, given its impact on mental well-being.
5. Parentline
A confidential telephone counselling service for parents and carers, offering support and advice on a range of parenting challenges, including bullying. 6. ReachOut Parents
Provides articles, tools, and expert advice for parents on various topics, including bullying, to help them support their teenagers.
7. National Centre Against Bullying
(NCAB) An Australian organisation dedicated to providing information, resources, and research on bullying and its prevention. 8. Australian Institute of Family Studies
(AIFS) An Australian government agency with a mission to conduct research on Australian families’ well-being to inform policies, operating under the Department of Social Services (DSS).

A Multifaceted Approach Across Australian States

Bullying is not a new phenomenon, but its manifestation in the digital age has given it new dimensions. At the heart of the issue lies the emotional well-being of our children. Bullying can lead to lasting psychological scars, hampering a child's confidence, self-esteem, and overall mental health. In managing this issue as a national group of schools, our practices must constantly balance gospel principles with both national and individual state regulations.

In February 2019, the National Principles for Child Safe Organisations received endorsement from all state and territory governments as well as the Australian Government. These principles are designed to establish a nationally consistent approach towards fostering organisational cultures that prioritise child safety and wellbeing. In recognition of this, educational institutions across different Australian states have rallied together to create comprehensive strategies to achieve this aim, including the specific issue of curbing bullying.


Victoria's approach to tackling bullying is rooted in the "Bully Stoppers" initiative. This program emphasises prevention, intervention, and support. Schools encourage open communication between students, parents, and staff to swiftly address any issues. Peer mentoring and awareness campaigns are integral components of their strategy.

Furthermore, Victoria's anti-bullying legislation, known as Brodie's Law, was introduced in June 2011. Named after Brodie Panlock, a young woman who tragically took her own life after enduring relentless bullying, this law made serious bullying a crime punishable by up to 10 years in jail. Brodie's Law has sent a strong message that threatening, bullying behaviour will not be tolerated. It covers all forms of serious bullying, including physical, psychological, verbal, and cyberbullying, and applies to all settings including workplaces, schools, and online platforms.

New South Wales

New South Wales takes a comprehensive stance against student bullying through its "Bullying of Students - Prevention and Response" policy. This policy, introduced by the NSW Department of Education (DET), underscores the rejection of all forms of bullying behaviour, including online or cyberbullying. The policy promotes safe, inclusive, and respectful learning communities in NSW public schools, aiming to enhance student well-being. Central to the policy is the requirement for students to be inclusive, respectful, and refrain from bullying, harassing, intimidating, or discriminating against others. This aligns with the Department's Behavior Code for Students, which emphasises a culture of respect and inclusivity.

The "Bullying. No Way!" campaign in New South Wales focuses on fostering respectful relationships and promoting a positive school culture. The emphasis here is on empowering students to stand up against bullying and fostering an environment where victims feel safe to come forward. By encouraging a culture of open dialogue and peer support, New South Wales is attempting to nurture a generation of empathetic and responsible citizens.


The Queensland Department of Education is determined to equip state schools with resources to prevent and address bullying and cyberbullying. They've introduced the "Stand out from the crowd" plan based on Anti-Cyberbullying Taskforce recommendations, along with fact sheets outlining responsibilities. Each school has a Student Code of Conduct addressing prevention and response, while resources like "Technology device free zone" posters encourage responsible tech use. The #endcyberbullying campaign engages students against online bullying, reflecting the reality of their experiences. This comprehensive approach underscores Queensland's commitment to a safe learning environment.

Western Australia

Western Australia demonstrates a robust commitment to tackling bullying by instilling a proactive approach within its schools. The state believes in fostering secure school communities that leave no room for the damaging effects of bullying, including those felt by witnesses.

WA actively participates in national campaigns like the "National Day of Action 2023" and collaborates with initiatives like the "Bullying. No Way!" website, offering a wealth of resources to schools, parents, and children. Legal Aid provides parents with legal advice on issues such as sexting, cyberbullying, and image-based abuse, underscoring the holistic approach to the issue. By encouraging open, respectful dialogues and involving all stakeholders, Western Australia builds a foundation where bullying finds no footing, setting the stage for safer, more supportive learning environments.

South Australia

In South Australia, proactive efforts to combat bullying involve a multi-faceted approach that encompasses policies and campaigns. The state government released the ‘Bullying Prevention Strategy’ to focus on strengthening the responses to children’s bullying both inside and outside the school gates. This is supported by fact sheets that clearly outline the roles and responsibilities of principals, teachers, and staff in responding to bullying incidents.

Moreover, the Office of the eSafety Commissioner provides a comprehensive complaint scheme for serious online bullying cases, wielding authority to remove harmful content from social media and online services. Students are encouraged to access support through resources such as the Kids Helpline and Headspace.


In Tasmania, schools prioritise creating safe and inclusive environments where bullying is prevented and addressed. The new Student Behaviour Management Policy ensures consistent standards for tackling bullying, with a clear definition and support for affected students. The approach emphasises positive resolutions over punishments and employs whole-school strategies for early intervention and reporting. This commitment extends to cyberbullying, with resources like the "Online Safety in Tasmanian Government Schools" fact sheet and the "Bullying. No Way!" website offering guidance for parents and students.

While each Australian state's approach to tackling bullying has unique elements, a common thread runs through them all: the power of collaboration. Parents, educators, students, and policymakers are working in tandem to develop strategies that address bullying in all its forms. From cyberbullying to verbal harassment, these approaches aim to create safe spaces where children can learn, grow, and thrive without fear.

Australia's unwavering commitment to combating bullying in schools underscores its dedication to nurturing the comprehensive growth of its youth. The diverse strategies being implemented across various states are charting a course towards a safer and more inclusive future for our children. By vocalising our stand against bullying and extending support to these initiatives, we actively contribute to fostering environments where every child can thrive and flourish.

At Australian Christian College, our core mission revolves around investing in student well-being to ensure that each student is deeply understood and cherished, much like Christ's profound love for the church. This deep-rooted commitment to caring for students drives ACC to continually implement effective anti-bullying strategies that seamlessly align with state policies and campaigns.

Looking ahead, it is evident that the battle against bullying is a continuous journey that necessitates the collective participation of parents, educators, students, and policymakers. By nurturing a culture grounded in empathy, respect, and transparent communication, Australian schools are not only tackling bullying but also laying the groundwork for a more compassionate and harmonious society. Through unwavering collaboration and sustained dedication, we have the power to guarantee that our children's educational paths are characterised by advancement, resilience, and a profound sense of security.

Peter Bromhead

Peter Bromhead

Peter Bromhead is the Deputy Business Development Manager at Christian Education Ministries and is both an educator and published author. With two decades of experience in Christian schooling, Peter holds a Bachelor of Education from The University of Sydney, is an alumnus of the AIS National Flagship Program, and is currently pursuing a Masters in Educational Leadership. His most recent role as Assistant Principal at one of Australia's fastest-growing independent schools has equipped him with a unique perspective in the realm of school improvement, development, and culture. Peter's passion lies in supporting the growth of Christian schools, helping them foster thriving communities that effectively fulfill their unique, God-given mission and purpose. Beyond his work, Peter enjoys spending quality time with his family and church. He and his wife are raising two daughters in the picturesque Lake Macquarie Hunter Region.