The Northern Ireland Anti-Bullying Forum (NIABF) defines bullying as behaviour, that is usually, by one or more persons intentionally to hurt, harm or adversely affect the rights and needs of another or others.

This definition statement is based on the definition of bullying as laid out in the Addressing Bullying in Schools Act (Northern Ireland) 2016.

Bullying” includes (but is not limited to) the repeated use of—

(a)any verbal, written or electronic communication,

(b)any other act, or

(c)any combination of those,

by a pupil or a group of pupils against another pupil or group of pupils, with the intention of causing physical or emotional harm to that pupil or group of pupils.

(2) For the purposes of subsection (1), “act” includes omission.

Bullying is a form of unacceptable behaviour, but not all unacceptable behaviour can be considered bullying. Bullying usually has three key elements:

  • It is usually repeated behaviour that happens over a period of time
  • It usually  involves an imbalance of power
  • It is intentionally hurtful behaviour

All unacceptable behaviour must be challenged, whether it is bullying or not.

There are many different ways that bullying behaviour can be displayed. This could include:

  • Being called nasty names, teased, made fun of, threatened or put down
  • Being hit, kicked, punched, tripped up or knocked over
  • Having belongings stolen or damaged
  • Having rumours or gossip spread about you or people talking about you behind your back
  • Being left-out, excluded or isolated
  • Being forced to do something you don’t want to do or know that is wrong

Online Bullying

Online, or cyber, bullying is bullying behaviour that is displayed through mobile/smart phones or the internet. This could include:

  • Hurtful, embarrassing or threatening material posted online (eg. on social network websites)
  • Nasty messages sent as texts, emails or other websites or apps
  • Being excluded from an online game
  • Fake profiles on a social network to make fun of others

For more information, click here.

The term bullying is highly emotive, often causing great anxiety, fear and shame to both the children involved and their families.

For that reason, we should avoid using the words ‘bully’ and ‘victim’ to describe children. For more information on the key terms, click here.