Primary: I'm not a bully

It is important to be careful that what is ‘joking’ to you is not hurtful to someone else.

What’s the issue?

Teasing can be fun! It shows that you have a sense of humour and can be a sign of how well you know someone. However, you need to be careful that what is ‘joking’ to you is not hurtful to someone else. Especially when using social media, where something that would be okay if seen by only a few people can now be shared with many. Sometimes a small event will be talked about over a much longer time as more and more people find out about it.

Why does it matter?

  • With people you know well, like friends and family, you know what you can tease them about as a joke, and also what they would be hurt by. When you tease someone you don’t know so well, you have to be more careful because what may seem funny or harmless to you may be hurtful or offensive to them.
  • When you spread gossip about people it can be used in ways that you didn’t intend. Once you have put the information ‘out there’, either in person or online, you have little to no control over it.
  • A joke can be funny in one situation and not in others—having ‘social awareness’ means that you are careful to size up situations so that you don’t put your foot in it!
  • Jokes get tired. Just because your friend laughed the first time doesn’t mean that saying that same old line, or doing that prank again, will still be funny—be glad it was good at first, now stop!


Be funny, not offensive

  • Know your audience so that you can be pretty sure that they will laugh with you rather than be hurt, confused or upset by what you say and do as ‘a joke’.
  • Sometimes you are in a situation where it is disrespectful to make a joke even if you think it would be really funny to some of the people present.

Think about why you are saying or doing this

If you are trying to look good at someone else’s expense then perhaps what you are doing is not ‘a joke’ at all.

Keep private things private

If someone shares something personal with you or you are with them when a really embarrassing thing happens, it is usually better to keep it private. If the person wants to make a joke about it themselves that is their choice, not yours.

Printable advice sheet

To download a copy of the advice sheet, see: