Research shows that adults usually underestimate the rates of bullying because it often happens when adults are not around and students may be reluctant to report it.
Reasons students may not report
Research has found that students often do not report bullying because they fear not being believed or not having their concerns appropriately and thoughtfully addressed by relevant adults.
Different ideas about what bullying is and is not may also contribute to students not reporting bullying.
Fear of making things worse is another reason students give for being reluctant to report.
Responses by staff and others which are supportive, measured and respectful reassure students that their reports will be taken seriously and handled appropriately.
It is important for schools to be aware of this student reluctance and to be aware that if a student does report bullying, it may be after a long period of experiencing unwanted and harmful behaviours.
Encourage student reporting
Encouraging reporting of bullying helps schools to gain a more accurate picture of bullying in their community.
Schools should make sure all students know how to report bullying. Systems for reporting need to be well understood, easy to access and confidential.
School staff who identify issues or concerns with the school reporting processes should inform the appropriate person in the school who manages them.
In some instances, it may be most appropriate to report bullying to other authorities, in the case of behaviours which may constitute a crime, or serious online bullying.