Harassment, discrimination and violence2018-08-02T11:18:46+10:00

Harassment, discrimination and violence

Harassment, discrimination and violence

Bullying, harassment, discrimination and violence all create or contribute to negative social environments.
Schools with these terms clearly defined in their school policies and procedures set the ground work for effective collaboration within the school community.

The relationships between the concepts can be complicated.

Bullying is an ongoing and repeated misuse of power in relationships (see the complete definition). This misuse of power can involve harassment, discrimination or violence, each of which can also occur outside of bullying. Single incidents or random inappropriate actions are not bullying (also see conflict).​​


Harassment is behaviour that targets an individual or group due to their:
  • identity, race, culture or ethnic origin
  • religion
  • physical characteristics
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • marital, parenting or economic status
  • age
  • ability or disability.
It offends, humiliates, intimidates or creates a hostile environment. It may be:
  • an ongoing pattern of behaviour or a single act
  • directed randomly or towards the same person(s)
  • intentional or unintentional.
Examples of harassment include where students:
  • ridicule someone who doesn’t speak English
  • tease someone who wears different clothes due to religion/beliefs
  • make suggestive comments or insults based on sex
  • make fun of someone who needs a wheelchair or walking frame for mobility
  • put down someone who is obese or very thin
  • tell offensive jokes deliberately to put down a particular societal group.


Discrimination occurs when people are treated less favourably than others because of their:
  • identity, race, culture or ethnic origin
  • religion
  • physical characteristics
  • gender
  • sexual orientation
  • marital, parenting or economic status
  • age
  • ability or disability.
Examples of discrimination include where students:
  • exclude children of a different culture from a friendship group
  • don’t let children of a different race sit near them at lunch
  • refuse to include a student with a disability in their game.
Discrimination interferes with the legal right of all people to be treated fairly and have the same opportunities as everyone else.


Violence is the intentional use of physical force or power, threatened or actual, against another person(s) that results in psychological harm, injury or in some cases death. It may involve provoked or unprovoked acts and can be a single incident, a random act or can occur over time.
Violence can be thought of in three basic categories:
  • self-directed violence (e.g. self abuse and suicide)
  • collective violence (e.g. social and political violence including war and terrorism)
  • interpersonal violence (e.g. family and intimate partner violence, community violence involving an acquaintance or stranger).
Examples of violence a teacher may observe include:
  • throwing items
  • pushing
  • grabbing
  • kicking
  • biting
  • hitting with fists
  • using a sharp instrument
  • hitting with an object
  • pulling hair.
It is important to remember that bullying and violence are not the same issue. Violence is often an outcome and is certainly an arm of bullying. If bullying can be addressed in its earlier stages then many instances of violence could be prevented.
It is important that bullying and violence are treated as separate issues with their own responses, but both issues are as important as each other and both can have a devastating effect on young people.


Are You Being Bullied