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I'm being racially bullied

​​Everyone has a role in stopping racist bullying. Don’t underestimate your ability to make a difference.

Racist bullying

Racist bullying can be:

  • physical, verbal or emotional 
  • online via mobile phones, email, social media and games
  • frequently making casual offensive comments about a minority group
  • making jokes that use racial or religious stereotypes
  • offensive graffiti
  • ridiculing, tormenting, threatening or making fun of physical attributes (such as skin colour, hair or facial features), customs, religion, food, accents, language, cultural or religious dress or music, or migration history
  • making comments that imply that a person is not 'Australian' 
  • refusing to socialise, work or co-operate with others because they are from a different cultural or linguistic background
  • making judgements about a person’s ability or values based on their accent, language or cultural background.

Impacts of racist bullying

Racist bullying can have a big impact on the person who is being bullied. It can make them feel confused, ashamed, rejected, fearful or embarrassed. It can also have a big impact on how safe they feel at school, and even if they want to go to school.

Even if you are not directly involved, seeing and hearing racist bullying can have a negative impact on you and the whole school community. 

Preventing racist bullying – making a difference

To prevent racist bullying in your school, you can:

  • remember that your experience of living in Australia might be different to other students’ experiences
  • respect and learn about the different cultures within and around your school community
  • read your school’s bullying prevention and student engagement policy, and suggest any changes you think will make a difference
  • be kind to everyone including people who may come from a different culture or country to you 
  • be an upstander.

Be an upstander and not a bystander

When you hear or see racist bullying, it can be difficult to call it out, but when one person stands up to bullying it encourages others to do the same. Most students admire people who stand up for someone being bullied. 

There are a lot of things you can do to be an upstander. Upstanders can:

  • be a friend to the person being bullied
  • interrupt the bullying by shifting everyone’s attention away from the bullying. For example, you can do this by:
    • asking the target of the bullying for their help with something or asking them to come and sit with you
    • distracting your friend if they are doing the bullying
  • leave the situation and then think about what you can do to help. This can include:
    • supporting the target of the bullying to ask for help from a teacher, the school counsellor or the wellbeing coordinator
    • tell a trusted staff member or your parent/carer about what happened.

Calling out racist bullying can be hard but if it’s safe, step in and tell the person doing the bullying that their behaviour isn’t okay and that they should stop. Don’t call the other person a bully – comment on their behaviour, not the person. For example, ‘That was a mean thing to say.'

Read more about how upstanders can help prevent bullying.

What if you have said or done something you think might be racist bullying?

When you think you have done or said something that may be racist bullying, ask yourself:

  • Was it kind?
  • Did my words or actions put someone down?
  • Was I trying to feel powerful or seeking the approval of my friends? 
  • Even if I thought it was funny, would other people agree? 

If you think your words or actions were racist bullyings, there are steps you can take to avoid hurting someone’s feelings in the same way again. 

  1. Tell the person you are sorry. Remember that people who feel hurt sometimes won’t be ready to accept your apology but that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t try.
  2. Make a conscious effort not to be involved in racist bullying again.
  3. If you see or hear any bullying, including racist bullying, be an upstander, not a bystander.

Advice and support

Print and share support information in your school community: bullying advice sheets.

Support services who can help

If you or someone you know need someone to talk to, for any reason, about anything, you can:

For more information and resources about bullying, refer to Bully Stoppers.