Bullying prevention

Every educator knows that student bullying has a significant negative long-term impact on the students involved, and preventing and addressing student bullying in our schools is an ongoing focus and commitment.

Research highlights that school-based interventions result in long-lasting and meaningful benefits and among these is open and timely discussion on bullying itself along with the realisation of the power each person has in reducing bullying behaviours.

Establishing preventative strategies that target key environments in which bullying is known to occur – including the classroom and the playground – is an important means of developing a positive school climate.

The approaches that schools take to counter bullying can be classified as either ‘preventative’ or ‘responsive’. Preventative approaches aim to stop bullying from occurring in the first place, while responsive approaches are the steps taken to resolve the issue after bullying behaviour has occurred.

Preventative strategies

Research indicates the following preventative strategies are effective in reducing bullying behaviours in the classroom:

  • whole-school approach
  • school behaviour support and management plan
  • classroom management and classroom rules
  • the role of the teacher and their response to bullying
  • positive relationships between teachers and students
  • school-based anti-bullying programs with high levels of playground supervision
  • promoting a culture of reporting bullying
  • partnering with parents and carers
  • anti-bullying content in the classroom
  • social and emotional learning
  • promoting upstander behaviour
  • teacher support and professional development
  • effective implementation and evaluation.

Responsive strategies

Schools are aware of the potentially harmful effects of bullying, including online bullying (cyberbullying) on young people and take reports of bullying seriously. All schools should incorporate preventative bullying approaches and strategies in their school. They should also utilise a range of responsive strategies when bullying behaviour does occur. These may include:

  • direct sanctions: verbal reprimands, meetings with parents, temporary removals from class, withdrawal of privileges, detentions, and, in some serious cases, suspension.
  • restorative practices
  • mediation
  • support group method
  • the method of shared concern.

To find out more about the above strategies, read the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation literature review on effective anti-bullying interventions in schools. The literature review provided the evidence base for the department’s anti-bullying strategy at the time and is still a widely accessed resource.

Further information

Further information is available on the eSafety Commissioner website on the educators webpage.

Information about this resource

This resource supports schools to establish preventative strategies that target key environments in which bullying is known to occur, supporting development of a positive school climate.

This resource supports teachers and school because:

  • bullying prevention is an important means of developing a positive school climate
  • research indicates that preventative strategies are effective in reducing bullying behaviours.

This resource addresses a need in the three key areas of practice, support and ongoing improvement. This provides schools and teachers with supports and resources to:

  • implement teaching and behaviour management approaches and practices aimed at building positive behaviours and learning environments
  • reduce the occurrence of challenging and unsafe behaviours through proactive and preventive approaches
  • provide better options for managing challenging behaviours when they do occur. 

Professional audience

School leaders and teachers across all school settings.

This resource can be used without assistance, as a stand-alone resource and/or linked to professional learning. Optional support is available through the Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation literature review on effective anti-bullying interventions in schools.

Student audience

All students P-12.

When to use

When schools are seeking to establish preventative strategies to bullying, to support development of a positive school climate. 


Can be used at any time in the school year.

System priorities and/or needs

This resource aligns with:

  • the Premier’s Priorities to improve outcomes in literacy and numeracy and HSC attainment
  • Our Plan for NSW Public Education’s direction and priorities of strengthening student wellbeing and development and advancing equitable outcomes, opportunities and experiences
  • need identified by Delivery Support, particularly Behaviour Specialists, to build teacher capacity in bullying prevention.

School Excellence Framework

  • Learning domain – Wellbeing (Caring for students, A planned approach to wellbeing, Individual learning needs, Behaviour)
  • Leading domain: Educational leadership (Instructional leadership, High expectations culture, Community engagement) and School planning, implementation and reporting (Continuous improvement, School plan, Annual report)
  • Teaching domain: Effective classroom practice (Classroom management).  

Relevant frameworks

Existing resources 


Consulted with: The information in this resource was developed as part of the NSW Government’s Anti-Bullying Strategy (2017-2020) in consultation with world-leading academic expert advisors Professor Donna Cross, Professor Rosemary Johnston, and Professor Ian Hickie. The Advocate for Children and Young People assisted with consultation with students.

The Department partnered with the NSW Association of Independent Schools, Catholic Schools NSW, eSafety Commissioner, Bullying No Way!, and the Kids Helpline in consultation with principal and parent groups to create an evidence-based resource package for students, teachers, parents and carers to identify, prevent and respond effectively to student bullying behaviours.

Professor Donna Cross, Professor Rosemary Johnston, and Professor Ian Hickie reviewed and endorsed all the materials for the website.

Reviewed by: Behaviour Services

Last updated: January 2024 

Centre for Education Statistics and Evaluation. (2017). Anti-bullying interventions in schools - what works? Literature review. Department of Education. https://education.nsw.gov.au/about-us/educational-data/cese/publications/literature-reviews/anti-bullying-interventions-in-schools

Cross, D, Shaw, T, Hearn, L, Epstein, M, Monks, H, Lester, L & Thomas, L. (2009). Australian covert bullying prevalence study (ACBPS), Child Health Promotion Research Centre, Edith Cowan University, Perth.

Saarento, S, Karna, A, Hodges, E & Salmivalli, C. (2013). ‘Student-, classroom-, and school-level risk factors for victimisation’, Journal of School Psychology, vol. 51, no. 3, pp. 421-434.

Salmivalli, C. (2014). ‘Participant roles in bullying: How can peer bystanders be utilized in interventions?’, Theory into Practice, vol. 53, no. 4, pp. 286-292.

Ttofi, M & Farrington, D. (2011). ‘Effectiveness of school-based programs to reduce bullying: A systematic and meta-analytic review’, Journal of Experimental Criminology, vol. 7, no. 1, pp. 27-56.

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