Bullying can happen to anyone and indeed a significant number of us have been affected. For those affected, it can be a continual and literal living hell. Bullying can take many forms- from physical assault to some very subtle ways that you may not feel qualifies as bullying. If you are a victim of bullying, you are not alone and here are some ways to reach out for help.
Ditch The Label Annual Report
In November 2019, the annual survey about bullying in the UK was published by the international anti-bullying charity Ditch The Label.
Published every November, since 2013, during Anti-bullying week, this report highlights the type of bullying across school and college students, and the frequency, with much more research included.
The data shows as many as 1 in 5 children have been the victim of a bully, and just as many have witnessed it happening to another. The majority of the victims feel it has mostly to do with appearance, but the causes of bullying also include (according to the study):
- The way someone looks
- Their interests
- The clothes they wear
- Being called gay or lesbian when they’re not
- Being singled out for having high or low grades
- Coming from a high or low-income household
- Disabilities, sexuality, race, culture and religion
Bullying can also take many forms:
- Physical assault, including hitting, pinching and damaging property
- Name-calling, verbal insults, intimidation, racist or homophobic remarks
- Cyberbullying, online via social networks, online games, texts
- Covert bullying, often done behind the victim’s back, such as rumour spreading, aiming to humiliate the victim
- Sexual bullying including unwanted physical contact
- Emotional bullying including using blackmail and control
Many victims of bullies feel that they cannot escape the cycle- they are bullied at school and then again online once they get home.
Cyberbullying can also be a more anonymous way of bullying. It’s not difficult to set up a false profile on social media and use it as a screen to mask the bully from being easily identified. By being anonymous, these bullies can troll and spread rumours about the victims, who are all too often powerless to stop this. This anonymity allows the bully to dehumanise the victims and it is all too easy to forget that people are real, with feelings and emotions.
Although the perpetrator may feel anonymous, the police can easily trace them once reported.
Cyberbullying covers a range of actions:
- Setting up online hate polls, counting votes for who hates the victim etc.
- Excluding people from groups
- Spreading malicious rumours
- Posting photos or videos with the intent to humiliate and embarrass
- Setting up fake social media profiles and causing trouble in the victim’s name
- Pressuring victims to send explicit photos
There are things you should do in this situation:
- Ensure you know how to block someone, or that your child knows
- Screenshot anything you can on your phone, or use the ‘Print Screen’ on your PC or laptop and print it out if possible.
- Report any issues to the platform, eg Facebook, Snapchat, Instagram etc.
- Pass any of this to a friend, parent and the police if necessary.
The NSPCC has a page on their site called Net Aware with great up-to-date info on all the social media sites and relevant contact details.
Bullying isn’t limited to children
For some, leaving bullying behind in the playground is merely wishful thinking. Unfortunately, these actions are not limited solely to the younger generation.
Workplace bullying happens all too often. It can involve undermining someone, gradually wearing them down.
The national charity against workplace bullying, The Andrea Adams Trust, defines it as:
- Unnecessary, offensive, humiliating behaviour towards an individual or groups of employees.
- Persistent, negative malicious attacks on personal or professional performance, often unpredictable and unfair or irrational.
- Abuse of power or position that can cause anxiety and distress, or physical ill-health.
- It may also include denying advancement and training or promotion.
Workplace bullying can be face-to-face, by email, social media, text and by phone, and/or can continue behind the victim’s back.
Most work places will not tolerate bullying, however in the first instant if possible try to speak to the person doing the bullying, However this is not always possible and can be very difficult to do. Where possible, make notes of the incident and keep copies of the messages, and report the incidents to your manager and HR department. If you have access to one, possibly also your local trade union representative, to ensure internal processes are followed.
Gov.uk recommends making a formal complaint using your employer’s grievance procedure, which with supporting accounts and evidence of incidents, make it easier for your employe to take action against the bully. Most employers want to ensure their work force is happy and bullying can affect their business, so don’t ever feel they wont’ listen.
However, in rare cases some employers are not willing to act on the information you provide, you can consider an employment tribunal.
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) also have a guidance leaflet for employees that you can download here. Employers have a responsibility to stop bullying and harassment in the work place.
Impact of bullying
The impact of bullying is far-reaching and for most, if it happens as a child it can shape your life, often well into adulthood. It doesn’t matter who did it, or where. Whether at school, home, the workplace or the street, the ramifications of bullying can be very serious.
With the advent of social media and the dehumanisation of fellow humans, it seems many have lost compassion and acceptance for others. We are at our most connected, more than we have ever been, yet many have never felt more isolated and alone.
Help with bullying
It is extremely advisable that you tell someone. A family member will likely give you the most satisfactory support. It is vital that you let a teacher at your school know too, find someone that you trust so you can speak to them openly.
If you are at work and are being victimised, tell your next in command, and take a look at the ACAS pdf listed in the section ‘Bullying isn’t limited to children’.
There are hundreds of sites that you can look for in a search engine too. Whether you are a child, teen or adult, there is plenty of advice for anyone who is suffering, including helplines too. Many of these sites offer advice for people that witness such behaviour but don’t know how to challenge it.
And always remember, no matter how you feel right now, you are absolutely NOT alone!