Being bullied at school or at work? Here’s what to do about it.

“The most common way people give up their power is by thinking they don’t have any”- Alice Walker


One of the many myths about bullying is that it is a normal part of childhood and growing up. It is possible that when people say this, they really mean that conflict is a normal part of life and is something children must learn to deal with. Now this is true, but bullying is not the same as conflict and must be treated differently. Bullying can also affect adults as well as children. In this blog we’ll look at the definition of bullying and why it happens, as well as offering suggestions on how you can deal with it, whatever your age.

What is bullying?

Bullying comes in many forms,

and levels of reported bullying have risen with the recent developments in modern technology. Forms of bullying include:

An individual or a group – a bullying person might find it easy to convince other people to copy his or her behaviour and cause a situation where a group is bullying, rather than just one person.

Bullying can often be identified by an imbalance of power where one person uses his or her power to control or harm the chosen target. It can also be identified by the repetitive nature of the behaviour. One isolated incident of conflict is not the same as someone being bullied and it is important to understand this distinction. Bullying can also be due to gender, racism, homophobia, sexuality, sexual identity and social status – all are common subjects of bullying.

Why do people bully?

There are numerous reasons that people engage in bullying behaviour including needing relief from a sense of their own helplessness, low self-esteem driving the desire to manipulate others in order to feel better, or the need to gain attention as this may be felt to be lacking elsewhere in their lives.

Adults can get bullied too and workplace bullying is prevalent

Sadly there are many parallels between the classroom and the workplace when it comes to bullying, and the impact it has is not lessened due to adulthood being reached!

According to the TUC, almost 1/3 of people have been bullied at work – and this is probably an underestimation as it can go unreported. Bullying can start as employees feel threatened by their colleagues, and perhaps fear that person will overtake them in the office hierarchy.

Bullying at work can be more subtle than in the playground, with people being undermined and ignored, criticised and overloaded with work; but arguments and rude behaviour can also be a feature.

However it’s experienced, bullying makes the bullied adult feel miserable, demotivated, stressed and can even lead to depression.

Are you being bullied at work? Here’s what you can do

  1. Tell someone – anyone. There’s nothing for you to be ashamed of and you are not alone.

  2. Speak to someone in HR, your manager or trade union rep

  3. Speak to your GP if the bullying is affecting your health

  4. Speak to the bully. Might they be unaware of how their behavior is affecting you?

  5. Keep a record of what is said by the bully and when, plus who else is present. This may be useful if you need to take action at any stage.

  6. Make a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure.

  7. Contact the Citizens’ Advice Bureau or look on government websites to find out more about taking legal action.

Remember – whatever is happening to you is not your fault. Stay calm, stay polite, and follow the above steps to try and resolve the situation.

How many children are affected by bullying?

The NSPCC reported in the Childline Annual Review 2014-2015 that “There were 7,296 counselling sessions with young people who talked to ChildLine about online bullying and safety last year”

This is just the number of children who have reported it in the last year. However – as well as the fact that this is probably only the tip of the iceberg - there is at least one other child who is also affected in every situation – the bully/bullies themselves.

Ditch The Label, one of the UK’s largest anti-bullying charities reported that in the UK 2,457,800 teenagers were bullied. In their 2015 bullying survey they found:

5 things to do if your child is being bullied:

  1. Create a safe space for your child. He or she will not open up if they do not feel comfortable talking to you.

  2. Listen. It is important that your child feels heard and this will help them to trust you and tell you what has happened.

  3. Praise your child for doing the right thing and offer them positive acknowledgement for their bravery. Children are often scared or ashamed to come forward about bullying. They often worry an adult will not believe them or will think they’ve done something to provoke this treatment.

  4. Reassure your child and offer them comfort and support to let them know they are no longer dealing with this alone.

  5. Speak to a teacher at school who knows your child and with whom you feel comfortable. If they were not aware of the situation before, they will be now and may be able to solve the problem in the school. They will also be able to help you set up a meeting with the other child’s parents if necessary.

If you or your child need help dealing with the effects of bullying, then please get in touch.