When I first published this article, I Googled the word ‘bullying’ and it came up with 4,310,000 results. That was shocking to me. Today, the search result showed 213,000,000 results.  Imagine my horror?!

Bullying takes many forms.  I remember in the late 1990s being surprised when I sat, as an observer, in the back of a class of teenagers who were learning about Personal Social Health Education (PSHE) and found that I’d been affected personally by the four categories of bullying then being discussed.  These were:-

  • Physical
  • Emotional
  • Financial
  • Sexual

My Google search revealed more common and specific areas of bullying including:-

  • Homophobic
  • Sizeist
  • Racist
  • Sexist
  • Cyberbullying
  • Discrimination
  • Verbal threats
  • Physical threats
  • Being ostracised

When individuals stand up to bullies, an interesting turn can result.  For example, being a ‘whistleblower’ can bring about significant changes and potential downfall for organisations who condone such appalling behaviour.  Remember the scandal of the huge conglomerate Enron?  What about the disgusting revelations about the cover-ups that enabled Jimmy Saville to continue his bullying of vulnerable victims for decades?  Barclays Bank is still recovering from the 2012 Libor and Euribor rate fixing scam, yet there is evidence going back to 2005 of misconduct and manipulation.

Bullying was first described as a verb in the 1700s, yet it only began to be seriously considered as a crime in 2000.  In the UK there are no specific ‘bullying’ laws and as such is not considered a crime in itself.  However, there are many laws within which bullying behaviour is obvious such as behaviour where victims are intimidated, harassed and experience violence, assault and theft.

Employers should follow the ACAS Code of Practice and also be mindful of the Equality Act in which there is provision for protected classes of society against this unhealthy and unsocial behaviour.

In the UK, state schools and responsible employers are expected to have a behaviour policy and there are now many organisations offering free advice for victims of bullying which, to me, seems a small and positive step.  The National Bullying Helpline is a good place to start if you are an individual who needs guidance.

Simply put, there are so many more instant forms of communication in our modern digital world that we hear bullying stories every day.

So what’s happened?  Why are we experiencing such a paradigm shift…..or are we?

All of the above categories of bullying have been around for centuries.  Wikipedia describes bullying…. ‘Bullying is the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuseintimidate, or aggressively dominate others. The behaviour is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception, by the bully or by others, of an imbalance of social or physical power.’

We can all decide how to respond to anything and everything that happens to us in life.  We can choose to see positivity in adversity, although sometimes it’s really hard to work through this, and sometimes there is no logical sense.  At the end of the day….

In my book, a bully is someone who has an inflated ego and considers themselves to be above reproach and who uses their perceived (in their eyes) power to use and abuse others.

There is no place for these vile and sad individuals in my backyard!  However, sometimes strong and resilient individuals may not realise how their behaviour can sometimes be construed as bullying by those with a more delicate disposition.  Be aware of how your own behaviour may be experienced by others and take steps to modify your approach if and where appropriate.

Please consider how you can help to stamp out bullying in your own part of this great world and don’t wait for Anti-Bullying Week which is regularly held in November in the UK.

Mahatma Gandhi
Be the change