What is Bullying?


Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behaviour by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear.

Types of bullying behaviour

There are some specific types of bullying behaviour:

  • verbal or written abuse - such as targeted name-calling or jokes, or displaying offensive posters
  • violence - including threats of violence
  • sexual harassment - unwelcome or unreciprocated conduct of a sexual nature, which could reasonably be expected to cause offence, humiliation or intimidation
  • homophobia and other hostile behaviour towards students relating to gender and sexuality
  • discrimination including racial discrimination - treating people differently because of their identity
  • cyberbullying - either online or via mobile phone.

What is not bullying?

There are also some behaviours, which, although they might be unpleasant or distressing, are not bullying:

  • mutual conflict - which involves a disagreement, but not an imbalance of power. Unresolved mutual conflict can develop into bullying if one of the parties targets the other repeatedly in retaliation.
  • single-episode acts of nastiness or physical aggression, or aggression directed towards many different people, is not bullying
  • social rejection or dislike is not bullying unless it involves deliberate and repeated attempts to cause distress, exclude or create dislike by others.

​For more information, see: Advice Sheets​