What we ​know

A student can bully another person because they:

  • don’t like the person
  • find bullying fun
  • like to feel tough, strong and in control
  • think it will make them popular.

Bullying can also happen because the student gets a reaction they like. Teaching students who have been bullied some strategies, including ways to limit their reaction to bullying, can be helpful.

Bullying can arise from distrust, fear, misunderstanding, lack of knowledge or jealousy—all factors that schools can address in positive and proactive ways.

Read more about how issues related to power and social status and lack of acceptance of diversity contribute to bullying.

Bullying can also happen because the school climate inadvertently supports negative interpersonal relationships.

A positive school climate is critical for preventing bullying in the first place.   Appropriate and prompt responses to bullying can ensure a clear message that bullying is never okay and can stop it escalating.​ 

​​Finally, if nothing is done by the school in response to a report of bullying, this sends a message to students that bullying is acceptable.