“It would be naive to think you have never been bullied”

Dominique Scherer – Co-founder of BULLYOUT

Bullying vs Harassment: The Differences

bullying in schools

How harassment and bullying in schools differ from each other?

To some people, they think that bullying and harassment are the same. This is why sometimes, parents are confused if their child is a victim of bullying or harassment whenever they come home upset or feeling down from school. Know that they are two dissimilar issues in the eyes of the law and it is necessary for you to be informed about their differences to identify the rights of your child. For the school, the organisations, and the law deal with them distinctly.

Let us first identify how the majority of schools and laws define harassment and bullying in schools.


It is defined as a manner which intimidates, annoys, threatens, or brings about fear in another person. Such is an unwanted action that demeans or offends others which creates an unfriendly environment. Harassment can be in the form of slurs, assault, visual insults, negative comments, as well as physical impeding.


It is defined as a deliberate gesture that harms others which include taunts, blackmail, extortion, manipulation, physical attacks, or verbal or non-verbal threats. Between the bully and the victim, power is imbalanced.

It may seem like their definitions sound similar, however, the law deals with them differently.

Australian schools have already enacted policies on how to deal with bullying and they often work with local organisations as well as agencies for the prevention of harassment and bullying in schools. However, there are some instances where bullying jumps over the borderline into harassment which may then be covered by the federal laws. More when the behaviour is classified as discriminatory harassment, the victim is not only protected by state laws but also by federal civil rights laws.

When the act of harassment is based on the race, sex, national origin, colour, religion, or disability of the student, it violates the civil rights of the student which are protected by federal law.

There’s nothing more important than being aware of the situation of your child for this can translate to accurately regulate the outcome. With schools required to offer a hostile-free environment for its students, they should immediately address issues whenever students feel unsafe within the premise.

With parents being their children’s best advocate, they must become active participants in the process of making their children feel safe in the school environment. This can be done through volunteering, joining parents and teachers association in the school, involving themselves in the activities of their children. Through these, they will be aware of the affairs of their children as well as recognise issues before they become serious.

Realize that your child can be a victim of harassment or bullying in schools. There are cases where children face these issues without their parents knowing about it. Enough reason why you should be involved and become part of the campaign towards bullying and harassment-free environment.

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