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Being Bullied

If a young person is being bullied at home or at school, it can leave them feeling isolated and alone. 

Bullying is when someone repeatedly does something to intentioanlly hurt someone else. That can mean physically hitting someone or spreading rumours, using put downs, name calling, or ignoring them. It can also mean sending them upsetting messages, comments, or pictures online or through text. 

Bullying is not just a normal part of growing up. When someone is targeted by bullying behaviour they can feel powerless, scared, and worthless. Anyone can be a target but no-one deserves to be bullied. 

If bullying is ignored or not taken seriously, it will continue and young people will get hurt. Everyone can play a part in helping people who are targeted by bullying behaviour and putting an end to bullying.

Keeping an eye out

If someone is being bullied it might be really hard for them to say something about it. Someone who is being bullied might:

Someone who is being bullied might:

  • Avoid school or other activities, classes, sports, or groups, or seem anxious or stressed about them
  • Get sick a lot, have headaches or feel ill
  • Have unexplained bruises, scratches, torn clothes, or lost items
  • Have trouble concentrating or get lower marks at school
  • Talk negatively about themselves, saying things such as “nobody likes me” or “I have no friends”
  • Become depressed or withdrawn
  • Look sad or depressed or have low energy

Healthy conversations

  • If someone has told you they are being bullied, take them seriously. It can take a lot of courage to say something, so let them know you're glad they spoke up
  • Remind them that the bullying is not their fault. It can happen to anyone for no real reason at all, and no one deserves it
  • Let them know they are valued, that you care about them and support them
  • Ask them how you can help. They may just want someone to talk to or they might need you to help them do something to stop it
  • Think about ways they can deal with the bullying. Telling an adult or a teacher who is able to do something about it is an important step. You might need to tell more than one adult or talk to a few teachers, the principal, or the board of the school
  • If it keeps happening, are there friends they can turn to for support? Is there a safe place they could go, where they are around other people, to get away? 
  • If the bullying is happening online, discuss ways to stay safe, update privacy settings and block people online or through text. Have a look at our page on Cyberbullying for more information
  • Ask them if they’re okay and keep checking in. Let them know you’re there for them if they need to talk

Taking action

It takes a lot of courage to stand up and speak out about bullying. Here are some things you can do to support someone being bullied and help to stop bullying behaviour:

  • Spend time with them and encourage them to spend time with other friends and whānau too. Bullying can make people feel isolated and alone
  • Let them know it’s not their fault, and that they have your support
  • Suggest that they hold on to any evidence such as texts, emails, or messenger conversations that involve bullying. If someone has made threats to hurt someone physically, they can contact the police
  • If it’s happening at school, make sure the staff know what's going on. It's their job to make sure the school is a safe place to be
  • Encourage them to get involved in activities outside of school. They could join a sport team or group away from where the bullying is happening 
  • Remind them of the other people out there who will support them. There are free phone counselling services such as Youthline, or they could talk to whānau, friends, school counsellors, coaches, teachers, kaumātua or kuia, or people at church
  • Support campaigns like Pink Shirt Day to raise awareness about the issue of bullying and speak out



Confidential Helpline: 0800 376 633

Youthline provides free phone, text, and email counselling support. Its website has great information for youth dealing with challenging situations including information about bullying.


Pink Shirt Day is about working together to prevent or stop bullying by celebrating people’s differences and promoting positive relationships. Pink Shirt Day provides information and advice for those who have been the targets of bullying and their friends and whānau.


Information about the series, how to talk about some of the heavy issues it raises, and how to get support if you need it.

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