What constitutes bullying?

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Rights and conditions
02 November 2016
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.

See also