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Why don’t students tell teachers?

Professor Campbell explains why students don't tell a teacher when they are being bullied.
Kids often don’t tell anybody if they’re being bullied. About 50% don’t tell anyone, or they might tell their friends, maybe their parents, but not many times will they ever tell their teacher. Why? Because it’s embarrassing to tell somebody that you’ve been hurt by other people, and what the kids actually say to us is; ‘Really, teachers just tell everybody. It’s never confidential, so my embarrassment at being bullied is amplified to the whole school,’ and what happens of course, is that ‘snitches get stitches’ and the bullying becomes even worse.

FAQ: One parent was very upset because I didn’t do anything about his son being bullied. But I didn’t know. Why didn’t he tell me so I could deal with it?

Put simply, a student doesn’t report bullying when they decide the risk is too great. It may be they don’t trust us not to make the situation worse by embarrassing them or worse still, by making the student who bullied them angry. Sometimes the student doesn’t think we will be interested or able to help. ‘I told my teacher last year but they didn’t do anything.’ Or perhaps they don’t consider the bullying serious enough. ‘They won’t let me be on their team.’ Or they think they have a better option. ‘I told my sister and she said I should ignore them.’ Sometimes the student who is being bullied may not even recognise they are being bullied.

'Snitches get stitches!' says the bully shaking his fists at the boy with tears in his eyes. Children often fear the consequences of others finding out they have told the teacher about bullying behaviour. © QUT

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Bullying in Schools: How Should Teachers Respond?

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