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Bullying, racism and discrimination

If a child in your care suffers from bullying, racism or discrimination they can feel angry, isolated and powerless. As their carer, you have a responsibility to speak out if you see it happening and the right to expect something is done about it. 

  • 'Racism' is any attitude or behaviour that assumes someone is inferior because of their skin colour or race.
  • 'Racial discrimination' is being treated unfairly because of race, colour, nationality, descent, or ethnic or ethno-religious background.
  • 'Racial bullying' or harassment means subjecting someone to verbal, physical or emotional abuse for the same reasons.
  • Racism, discrimination and bullying can happen in every aspect of daily life, e.g. walking around the shops or at a family barbecue. For children and young people, it’s likely to take place at school in the form of bullying.

When racism, bullying and discrimination happen at school

There are some things you can do if the child or young person in your care experiences bullying at school. You can:

  • keep a diary of what happened, when it happened, who was involved and who witnessed it
  • talk to the teacher about it and what can be done
  • talk to the principal about the school's policy for dealing with racist bullying, and what formal steps will be taken to prevent it from happening again.

The Bullying. No Way! website has lots of information, activities, games and tips for parents/carers, children and young people on how to identify and deal with bullying, racism and discrimination.

When bullying happens outside the school

If the child or young person in your care experiences bullying outside school, here are some things you can do:

  • If you witness the incident, be assertive and challenge the behaviour by naming what is happening and telling the person their behaviour is not OK, particularly if it's being done by family or friends who will have regular contact with the child or young person.
  • Be aware that the child or young person is watching how you respond, so they learn how to deal with it themselves.
  • Do not threaten, intimidate or verbally abuse the bully.
  • Listen to the child or young person and take their feelings and fears seriously.
  • Let them know it is not their fault.

If you believe bullying is occurring, you should talk to the child’s Case Manager. 

 Strategies for coping with racism

You may need to help a child or young person in your care deal with bullying and racism at school, amongst friends, in the community, or even in your own home or neighbourhood. Developing strategies to deal with racism before it happens allows you to help prevent it from getting out of control. You can:

  • make sure everyone understands that racism can be against the law, is unacceptable and that no one deserves to be treated that way
  • lead by example – don’t make racist slurs or jokes about other people’s cultures or backgrounds
  • have discussions about racism at home and encourage conversation about its effects and impacts
  • encourage and value diversity
  • don’t make promises you can’t keep, like `I’m going to make sure this never happens to you again’
  • be supportive
  • don’t tolerate racist behaviour – by doing this, you can encourage the child or young person to develop positive attitudes, a strong sense of self and positive self-esteem
  • encourage the child or young person to openly express feelings and let them know that it is possible to be angry and 'blow off steam' without being disrespectful
  • encourage friendships and participation in activities within the child’s community
  • don’t ignore racism or bullying – challenge it.

If the child is traumatised, you are getting stressed or you don't know what to do, contact the child’s Case Manager for support.