As thousands of students across the country are starting high school, new figures reveal nearly one in four young people have experienced bullying in the past 12 months, and were most likely turn to their parents for support.
A new survey by digital youth mental health organisation ReachOut revealed that 23% of 14–25 year-olds have experienced bullying in the past 12 months. The highest incidence of bullying occurred at school (52%), followed by the online space (25%) and the workplace (25%).
ReachOut CEO Jono Nicholas said, ‘Starting high school can be a tricky time for students and their parents – there is a new environment to contend with, more students, developmental changes and a bigger workload. It can be a time of upheaval for friendships, where young people making the transition to high school may lose touch with close friends and navigate new friendships. Sometimes the line between regular friendship issues and bullying becomes blurred.
‘We know that bullying is something that young people are really concerned about – last year record numbers turned to ReachOut for support and information on bullying, with 138,000 visits to our bullying-related content.
‘The reality is that bullying can happen wherever young people are – whether online or offline. This is why we focus on equipping young people and their parents with support and tools so they can be ready to deal with the behaviour. We want young people who experience bullying and their parents to know that you don’t have to put up with it – there are things you can do right now to address bullying behaviour.’
The survey revealed that of the young people who experienced bullying, around half sought help, with parents the most likely place young people will turn to for help with bullying at 48%, followed by peers (33%).
‘Young people who experienced bullying were most likely to turn to a parent for support – so it’s really important that parents have the tools and resources to respond when this occurs.’
Mr Nicholas said that for the first time new ReachOut resources will be available to help parents support their teenagers through experiences of bullying.
‘Bullying can make young people feel ashamed or powerless to act, anxious, stressed or guilty – as though it’s their fault. This is why we encourage young people to tell a trusted adult like a parent when they are experiencing bullying. Sharing what’s going on will make them feel less alone, and will also allow them to feel supported in working through the experience.’
ReachOut’s tips for parents concerned about bullying
- Get informed about the avenues for stopping bullying. You wouldn’t put up with bullying at work, so your child doesn’t have to put up with it at school or online. Schools have anti-bullying policies and are required to respond to bullying incidents. Social media providers are required to remove offensive content or you can contact the Children’s e-Safety Commissioner.
- Get to know the school principal and year adviser and ask them about their anti-bullying policy – that way if incidents of bullying arise, it’s easy to raise it with them.
- Read up on how to contact social media providers to address cyberbullying and ensure you and your child know how to block, delete or report anyone who is upsetting them online.
- Make an action plan with your teen if they are experiencing bullying – ask for details, when and what is occurring, and how did it make them feel. Break the action plan into manageable steps and play out possible scenarios.
- Think about contacting the other child’s parents and address the issue between families.
ReachOut’s tips for young people who are experiencing bullying
- Know that you don’t have to put up with bullying. If it’s happening to you, tackle it early and don’t just hope it’ll go away.
- Talk to someone who can do something about it – like your parents, a teacher or principal – and ask them how they will respond.
- Get allies from outside where the bullying is happening – this could be through a job, volunteering, sport, music or other groups and online forums; or spending time with a different group. Making new friends can help you feel better about yourself and more able to cope with difficult situations.
- Consider removing yourself from the environment – this may mean changing schools, spending time with a different group or leaving a job.
- When you see someone else being bullied, you can let them know they’re not alone. Write them a private message to let them know you’re thinking of them, invite them to sit with you, choose to be their partner in class or go for a walk with them. If it continues, report it to someone in authority.
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