What constitutes bullying?

Bullying is the persistent (and normally deliberate) misuse of power or position to intimidate, humiliate or undermine.

It can take many forms, and can be:

  • physical (at worst, an assault)

  • verbal (shouting, swearing, public reprimands)

  • non-verbal (ostracising, setting impossible objectives, persistent intrusion into classes, unreasonable allocation of duties, or even inappropriate eye-contact).

You may also face bullying from other teachers/lecturers, non-teaching staff, parents or governors, of course. If parents are bullying or harassing you, inform the senior management at your school/college, who should take measures to stop it.

Am I being bullied?

You may be the last to realise that you are being bullied. You might attribute stress to the pressures of dealing with students rather than the behaviour of your headteacher/principal or line manager. It may only be when a colleague discusses the matter with you that you realise what's going on.

Signs indicating that you may be on the receiving end of bullying include:

  • excessive fear of meeting or speaking with the headteacher/principal/line manager

  • loss of confidence, self-worth and self-belief

  • reluctance to voice an opinion in case the manager misinterprets it as hostile criticism or treats it with derision/suspicion

  • a gradual realisation that you are afraid to go in to school/college because you feel threatened with the management's attitude

  • physical ill-health, such as unintended weight loss, disrupted sleep patterns, nausea, crying fits, indigestion, irritable bowel syndrome, headaches, back pains, skin complaints - or even ulcers, depression and panic attacks.

Taking action

If you believe you are being bullied, you should talk to a colleague, senior member of staff (if appropriate) or your ATL rep. Detailed advice on the actions you can take to put a stop to bullying is available on this website.

If your school has a policy on bullying, you should read it to find out what options are open to you.

Need further advice?

Your first point of contact is your ATL rep in your school or college. Your local ATL branch is also available to help with queries, or you can contact ATL's member advisors on tel: 020 7930 6441 or email us. Please have your membership number to hand when telephoning and include it with any correspondence - this will help us to answer your query more quickly.

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