What Is Bullying?

Bullying is conduct that cannot be objectively justified by a reasonable code of conduct, and whose likely or actual cumulative effect is to threaten, undermine, constrain, humiliate or harm another person or their property, reputation, self-esteem, self-confidence or ability to perform.

Context is everything. Accusing someone of wrongdoing whilst knowing there are no grounds to do so is not fair and cannot be done in good faith, undermines a person's reputation and self confidence and is therefore, by the above definition, bullying. Conversely, making a complaint, holding someone to account for substandard work or conduct, reporting malpractice etc, done with honest justification, fairly and in good faith, is not "bullying".

What's the difference between bullying, harassment and assault?

Bullying differs from harassment and assault in that the latter can result from a small number of fairly serious incidents - which everybody recognises as harassment or assault - whereas bullying tends to be an accumulation of many small incidents over a long period of time. Each incident tends to be trivial, and on its own and out of context does not constitute an offence or grounds for disciplinary or grievance action.

Where are people bullied?

This is not an exhaustive list: Bullying transcends all social boundaries and can occur wherever there are human beings.

The purpose of bullying is to hide inadequacy, and usually involves an abuse of power. Power can come in many forms, such as physical stature, a position of authority or a position of trust. Using such power to harm or unreasonably control people is a sign of weakness, a quick and cheap way to gain obedience or something that might feel like respect, but obedience through duress and respect motivated by fear are fake or, at best, half-hearted, and they only last until the victim is able to escape from the bully's influence.

Some people project their inadequacy onto others:

Bullying behaviours are behind all forms of harassment, discrimination, prejudice, abuse, persecution, terrorism, conflict and violence. Understanding bullying gives a person the opportunity to understand that which underpins almost all forms of reprehensible behaviour. Because of that, bullying remains the single most important social issue of today.

Bullying happens under the noses of those who should care enough to stop it but who don't, either because they simply cannot believe it could happen, or because they fear the consequences (for them) of doing something about it or because they don't in fact care. Thus, targets of bullying and abuse are often not listened to or believed when they do report it.

One good thing to emerge from these scandals is a greater public awareness of the possibility, and an increased likelihood that abuse victims will be listened to. Bullying is a choice for the perpetrator, and it is not a choice for the target. If you're being bullied, IT IS NOT YOUR FAULT. No further explanation is needed.