- Spotting the signs of bullying
Spotting the signs of bullying
While there is no legal definition of bullying, it is usually defined as repeated behaviour with intent to hurt a person physically or emotionally. Bullying can take many forms, including physical assault, making threats, name-calling or cyber bullying (online).
Generally, bullying is referred to something that happens during your school years, but it can happen at any time. Bullying does not discriminate, it’s everywhere - you just need to know the signs to spot and how you can help.
We surveyed 1300 members of the public to shine a light on bullying. Out of those surveyed, 55% said they had been bullied at some time in their lives. While 79% were bullied at school or college, 30% said that it happened in the workplace and 17% said at home.
Nearly 70% of those bullied never sought help, from anyone.
Whether you have been bullied before, are a witness to bullying or are worried about a friend or colleague, how can you use your power for good? For us to stand up to bullying and support those who need help, we need to know the warning signs.
Spotting the signs of bullying
Many people will keep their worries to themselves, they may brush it off as banter, or they may not know who to turn to. Whether a school child or a colleague at work, there are some signs that may indicate a problem.
- injuries without explanation
- missing or broken belongings
- frequent complaint of headaches or nausea
- increased sick days or faking illness
- lack of sleep
- loss of confidence
- being nervous
- feeling tired or irritable
- change in attitude
- lack of interest and motivation
- become less social
- keeps to themselves (more than usual)
Of course, it is possible there are other reasons for your friend acting differently. To avoid jumping to conclusions, consider what else is going on in their life.
How can you help?
There are some simple ways you can help a person being bullied. If you are worried about a friend, pulling them aside and talking to them can be a great help. If they aren’t ready to talk, don’t push them. Reassure them and be there to listen when they are ready.
If a person feels like they are being bullied, it can be a very long, lonely journey. Sometimes, when a person is going through a tough time, simply knowing that someone cares and is there for them can be very effective. Remind them that you are there and they are not alone.
Depending on the situation, intervening as it happens can help, though be careful to not get yourself involved. If it is recurring problem, talking to someone higher up can take the weight off your shoulders. If you are at work for example, speak to HR and mention you have witnessed the situation. The victim may not want to talk, but it will bring it to their attention that someone is looking out for them.
Bullying or banter?
It can be difficult to tell the difference because it really depends on the people involved. One person may think they are being funny and joking with the person, while the other feels an entirely different way. For example, at school or college, a student may make a joke. Because they are surrounded by friends, laughing, the person on the other side may feel intimidated and like everyone is against them.
Perhaps it is a situation at work where two colleagues have developed quite a cold relationship. Does one person appear to react aggressively? Are they the bully or have they been driven to feel this way? In some cases, it really depends on those involved.
If you are worried about a situation, approach it with care and empathy. Learn how both parties feel - maybe there is something deeper going on in their personal lives and they are taking the stress out on others. They may not realise they are upsetting someone, but if you think a joke or a conversation as gone too far, or if you notice a change in behaviour, be there. Talk to them and be there to listen.