Equality and Diversity

FAQ about Harassment and bullying

What is the difference between harassment and bullying?

Harasment and bullying both involve behaviour which harms, intimidates, threatens, victimises, undermines, offends, degrades or humiliates.

Harassment is always linked to Anti-discrimination Laws and thus will focus on gender, race, ethnic background, colour, religion or belief, sexual orientation or disability. Harassment may be a single incident or a series of incidents.

Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour, direct or indirect and by one or more persons which undermines an individuals right to dignity.

What are some actual examples of behaviour that is bullying or harassment?

Discriminatory harassment can take many forms. The following list is not comprehensive and serves as an example only:

  • Offensive material that is displayed publicly
  • Verbal abuse or comments that belittle people
  • Unwelcome and hurtful jokes
  • Direct or subtle threats
  • Offensive gestures
  • Ignoring, isolating or segregating a person
  • Staring or leering in a sexual way
  • Unwanted physical contact of a sexual nature
  • Aggressive physical behaviour
  • Repeated behaviour which a person has perviously objected to

What are the possible effects of bullying or long term harassment?

Everyone will have a very individual reaction which will vary according to their own personality and state of health plus the intensity or nature of the bulling and harassment. The following are examples of common reactions:

  • Stress and/or sleep disturbance
  • Fatigue
  • Panic attacks or general anxiety
  • Depression
  • Impared ability to work/concentrate
  • Loss of self confidence and/or self esteme
  • Over time, bullying and harassment result in trauma, the collective symptoms of which often constitute Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

How extreme does it have to be?

While some bullying and harassment may involve verbal abuse and physical violence, it can also be subtle intimidation such as inapropriate comments, or unrealistic, embarassing or degrading demands. If you feel that you are being harassed or bullied you should do something about it. Visit our harassment and bullying page or read our harassment policy [pdf - 32k] for guidance and sources of support.