Harassment and bullying – what’s in a name

Bullying and harassment are a bit hard to define because they aren’t about the behavior, as much as they are about the intent and impact of the behavior.

When no one knows how to help you stop a bully, it's easy to become frustrated.

Harassment is defined in FL thusly, ”Harass means to engage in a course of conduct directed at a specific person which causes substantial emotional distress to that person and serves no legitimate purpose.”

Bullying doesn’t normally have a legal definition but it would be similar if it did with the addition of the purpose being to create a display of power over another person.

The problem is these terms is that they describe the impact of the behavior, but not the actual behavior. Bullying manifests as specific behavior and actions and to get it to stop, you have to focus on what exactly is happening.

There is generally a pattern of specific types of behavior and to get it to stop, you have to create a strategy to stop specific unwanted behaviors. And there may be a variety of them. Name calling, physical intimidation, etc.

By focusing on how the behavior manifests, specifically in your case, you can then discuss it with people who can help you. So if you are in school, you don’t say – hey – I’m being bullied. You say – hey – this person is calling me names and doing whatever it is they are doing wherever they do it. Be specific.

Same thing in the workplace. Yes, it’s harassment, but be specific about how it manifests when you ask for help.

If you want to learn more about how to develop a strategy – consider signing up for the Bully Vaccine Toolkit which will walk you through the process.