Emerging Minds
1hr 30mins

Understanding childhood bullying and mental health

About the course

This course introduces practitioners to the impact of childhood bullying on the mental health of Australian children aged 4–12 years. We'll provide a definition of childhood bullying and discuss its prevalence in the contemporary Australian context. You'll learn about five key aspects that can influence a practitioner’s understandings of childhood bullying, while building an understanding of how children experience bullying and the impacts on mental health outcomes. The course also shares insights on children's own thoughts and feelings about bullying, how this differs to adults and the important role of relationships. You'll be invited to consider your own attitudes about bullying while having the space to reflect on the concepts presented.

If you are presently working with a child and/or the parent of a child who has been involved in bullying, you might also like to review, and refer parents to, our resources written for families. Emerging Minds Families has a suite of resources to help parents understand how bullying can impact children and what they can do to support a child who has experienced bullying or engaged in bullying behaviour.

Who is this course for?

The course will support a broad range of practitioners to understand the impact of childhood bullying on children’s mental health. This is a foundation course, and as such does not explore practice specific to working therapeutically with a child experiencing or engaging in bullying. It does, however, highlight the key concepts and introduce some fundamental practice considerations.

Learning aims

This course aims to:

  • increase practitioners' understanding of child mental health and how it is impacted by childhood bullying
  • support practitioners to identify potential signs of bullying in children they work with
  • motivate practitioners to think about the role they can play in preventing and responding to childhood bullying within the scope of their current practice
  • challenge the way practitioners' may view bullying and children who are experiencing or engaging in bullying behaviour; and
  • increase practitioners understanding of the important role of children’s friendships and family relationships in mitigating the effects of childhood bullying.

The experience of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children

Existing knowledge tells us that the effect of bullying on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children is extensive. Experiencing both racial discrimination and bullying at the same time can have a substantial and cumulative negative effect on children’s mental health. Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children report the highest levels of concurrently experiencing bullying and racial discrimination.1

We understand that there is a significant need for understanding and knowledge around Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children’s experiences of bullying. However, this short course does not have the scope to cover the complexities of these experiences in the detail they deserve and therefore does not focus on First Nations children’s experiences.


It is estimated that this course will take you approximately one-and-a-half hours to complete, including reading material and watching videos.

You can undertake the course across multiple sessions at your own pace. The last screen you visit before logging off will be bookmarked and you will have the option of returning to that screen when you next log in.


As you work through the course, it is important to be aware of your own emotional responses. Please follow the self-care tips below and seek help if needed:

  • We do not recommend undertaking the entire course in one sitting. Give yourself some breaks. Even if you don’t feel that you need a break, it’s a good idea to take one anyway and come back later.
  • Be aware of your emotions as you progress through the course and take action if you are starting to feel stressed or upset. For example, consider taking a break and doing something for yourself that you enjoy.
  • Be aware of your emotional responses after you complete the course.

If at any point you find you are struggling, please talk with your supervisor, seek help, or call Lifeline on 13 11 14, Beyond Blue on 1300 22 4636, or SANE Australia on 1800 18 7263.


For the purposes of this course, the term parent encompasses the biological and adoptive parents of a child, as well as individuals who have chosen to take up a primary or shared responsibility in raising that child.

Social and emotional wellbeing refers to the way a person thinks and feels about themselves and others. It incorporates behavioural and emotional strengths and is a facet of child development.2

In broad terms, social and emotional wellbeing is the foundation for physical and mental health for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples. It is a holistic concept which results from a network of relationships between individuals, family, kin and Community. It also recognises the importance of connection to Land, culture, spirituality and ancestry, and how these affect the individual.3 ‘Social and emotional wellbeing’ is also used by some people from culturally and linguistically diverse (CALD) backgrounds, who may have differing concepts of mental health and mental illness.4

Bullying involvement refers to a child’s experience with childhood bullying, whether as a child who is experiencing bullying behaviour or as a child who engages in bullying behaviour.


This course draws on the latest research, clinical insights, and the lived experience of our child and family partners. We’d like to thank the professionals and families who played an integral role in shaping this course, generously offering their time, wisdom and unique perspectives.

A quick guide to Emerging Minds Learning

Watch the following video for a quick guide on how to navigate Emerging Minds Learning courses.


  1. Priest, N., Kavanagh, A., Bécares, L. & King, T. (2019). Cumulative effects of bullying and racial discrimination on adolescent health in Australia. Journal of Health and Social Behaviour, 60(3), 344–361.
  2. Australian Institute of Health and Welfare. (2012). Social and emotional wellbeing: development of a Children’s Headline Indicator. Cat. no. PHE 158. Canberra: AIHW.
  3. Commonwealth of Australia. (2017). National strategic framework for Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples’ mental health and social and emotional wellbeing. Canberra: Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet.
  4. Everymind. (2020). Understanding mental health, mental ill-health and suicide. Newcastle: Everymind.

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