International Day against bullying and violence

a kid getting bullied in the library
By Psychologist Judy McKay

The 19th of March marks an opportunity to stop, think and reflect on bullying and the impact it can have on young people. This year’s theme is “Kindness Culture” which aims to promote “inclusiveness, respect, and a sense of belonging”, in order to proactively prevent bullying behaviour. 

Like many things, bullying can come in different shapes and sizes. Linked below are some user friendly bullying resources for young people and their parents: Kids Helpline Guide to Bullying – Outlines the different forms, their impact and strategies to deal with bullying. The government’s “Bullying. No Way” initiative provides a range of short video clips that outline different cyberbullying scenarios and appropriate courses of action. 

Tips for supporting a young person who is experiencing bullying: 

  • Validate their experience e.g., “That sounds really hurtful”, “I can see why that was upsetting for you”. 
  • Try not to minimise their experience  e.g., “I’m sure it was a one off, they probably didn’t mean it”. 
  • Empower them to identify what’s wrong with the situation. Collaboratively talk about the behaviour and whether they have been treated appropriately. 
  • Encourage them to surround themselves with people who build their self-esteem. This may be through after school activities or play dates. 
  • Encourage them to stand up for themselves using assertive (e.g., “I feel”) language rather than aggressive (e.g., “You did”) language, to educate others about the impact of their actions and behaviours. 
  • Take necessary steps to support and protect your child from further harm e.g., contacting the school, providing psychoeducation to parents and teachers, blocking bullies on social media, seeking external support etc. 

By educating ourselves, our children and others on bullying behaviour and its impact, we too can contribute towards building “kindness culture”. All individuals deserve to feel respected and accepted among their peers and within the community. 


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Judy is a registered psychologist with a Master’s degree in Educational and Developmental Psychology. Judy has experience working with young people, their families and extended support networks across educational, clinical and community-based settings. Judy enjoys working creatively and flexibly with children and adolescents to explore their difficult emotions and experiences. In the past, Judy has supported young people experiencing a range of neuro-developmental disorders, anxiety, trauma, social skill and emotional regulation difficulties. Judy values the individual needs of each client and attempts to incorporate their personal interests, strengths and goals throughout therapy. Judy utilises a client-centred approach to her therapy which is grounded in cognitive-behaviour therapy and other evidenced-based techniques.

Judy has a background in providing pastoral care to children and adolescents within educational settings. These experiences have enabled Judy to connect and build relationships with students of all ages, in addition to understanding the challenges typically faced by school-aged children. Judy encourages her clients to take a holistic approach to therapy and values communication with a client’s wider support network. This helps to promote positive client outcomes across all aspects of day to day life. Outside of work, Judy loves spending time at the beach or in the countryside. She further enjoys playing social sports and prioritises spending time with friends and family.

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