​​Diversity and bullying

Some subgroups of students within the overall school population are more likely than others to be bullied.

Bullying sometimes involves negative comments about a student's personal attributes and how they are different from other students. These negative judgements can relate to:

  • appearance and weight
  • socio economic status
  • ability or disability
  • gender, sex and sexuality
  • culture, race and religion.

Prejudice-based bullying, also sometimes called bias-based bullying, is bullying related to prejudices that students absorb from the wider social community about the value of diversity in a community. (This is distinct from bullying related to students' ability to 'fit in' in how they behave, which is explored under Power, social norms and bullying).

The group of students who are most likely to report bullying are those who are overweight.

Students who identify as or are considered by other students to be lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgender or intersex (LGBTI) also report more bullying than their peers.

Students with disability are also more likely than their non-disabled peers to be bullied and to engage in bullying.

Students with behavioural, emotional or developmental disability are at a greater risk of bullying than their peers. These students may require additional strategies to manage their own emotions as well as interpret others' emotions and behaviours.  It is important to identify strategies that are compatible with the student's individual needs, interests and ability.

Students from a culture, race or religion that differs from the main culture, race or religion at the school are also more likely to be bullied.

Student bullying is strongly linked to school climate, including how openly difference and diversity are discussed and how much value is placed on respect for diversity and inclusion.  Celebrating diversity in schools is the first step towards improving acceptance within society.  Teaching children about difference and diversity builds a strong foundation of understanding and provides a set of values that children can take with them throughout life.

At schools where diversity is valued and celebrated, there is no place for prejudice-based bullying.

To counter prejudice-based bullying, school communities need to work with students to understand and challenge wider social prejudices.

The Bullying. No Way! Teaching resources catalogue has a number of resources for teachers to use to explore diversity and difference, and to promote tolerance and inclusion amongst students.