Bullying: Who should I tell?

Who do you tell when you are experiencing bullying?

It can be difficult to know what to do.  If I tell am I “a dobber”?

Will telling the teacher make it worse?  Will the other students who are bullying me become sneakier and more covert and just make my life even more difficult?

This is a very real issue for many young people who are experiencing bullying.  Sometimes we think if we ignore it, it will just go away. Often it doesn’t.

You are not alone in trying to decide what to do, many students struggle with this and in fact 70% – 82% of students who do experience bullying at school do tell someone what they are going through.[1]

It is important to know that telling someone what you are experiencing is not “telling tales”, you are not being a “dobber”.  Also, asking for help is not a sign of weakness.  Sometimes we think we will be weak if we ask for help.  

It is ok to ask for help, it is not weakness, often it takes strength to ask for help.  In life there will be many situations where we need to ask for help, dealing with the experience of being bullied is one of those situations.

So, who can we tell?

Telling our parents can be helpful when they provide a safe place for us to express how we feel and remind us of our strengths and build our resilience – see Parents and Resilience.  Often our parents can work with us as we find a positive solution with the school.

We can tell trusted friends.  Often our friends really understand what is happening in our social group and can be there for us and support us.

We can tell a trusted teacher.  Schools have a number of strategies to assist you, for example assisting you to develop stronger communication, and assertiveness skills – see Assertive Communication; temporarily or permanently changing timetables to decrease contact; mediation and teaching students what to do when they see you being bullied.[2]

Although we often are afraid, we will make it worse by speaking out, most times it makes it better.  The important thing is to tell someone you trust, someone who can work with you to develop strategies you are comfortable with and that will assist you in dealing with the bullying behaviour.

Remember, bullying can be illegal.  It is a crime if someone:

  • Is physically violent towards you.
  • Threatens you.
  • Stalks you, (stalking includes following, watching or repeatedly contacting you in a way that scares you).
  • Damages of steals your stuff

It is also against the law if someone harasses you because of your:

  • Race,
  • Gender identity,
  • Sexual preference or
  • Impairment

In these situations where bullying is criminal or against the law it is essential for you to tell someone so you are protected.

[1]Rigby, K., (2002) To tell or not to tell: The victimised student’s dilemma, http://www.reserachgate.net/publication/288961584

[2]https://www.education.wa.edu.au/bullying



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