What is it?

Bullying is repeated inappropriate behaviour carried out by a person or persons against another or others. It can be verbal or physical, direct or indirect. It is behaviour that could be reasonably regarded as undermining an individual's right to dignity, in the workplace or in education. Bullying includes any behaviour that is offensive to a reasonable person. This could be:

  • Oral, written slurs
  • Verbal abuse
  • Unwanted physical contact
  • Gestures, jokes, displaying of pictures, graffiti
  • Impossible deadlines, continuous refusal of reasonable requests without good reason
  • Sneering
  • Public or private humiliation
  • Persistent unjustified criticism or sarcasm
  • Aggression


Harassment is any action that is unwanted or offensive, humiliating or intimidating. It is an action or actions that cause a person to feel harassed, distressed or fearful that violence will be used against them. A few examples of harassment include:

  • Racial harassment "abusive treatment of people based on their race, colour, ethnicity."
  • Disability harassment "making a person feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or threatened because of a disability they have."
  • Sexual harassment "unwelcome conduct of a sexual nature against any man or woman." It could be suggestive remarks, displaying of suggestive pictures, unwanted physical contact, offensive comments about dress, appearance or orientations, or unwelcome suggestions about outside social activity.

What is perceived as harassment varies from individual to individual so it can be difficult to define. Everyone has different limitations and boundaries. You determine what feels like inappropriate behaviour so if you are feeling compromised, threatened or uncomfortable then it is harassment. Just because one person is fine with certain behaviour doesn't mean another person is wrong if they don't feel fine with it.

What are the effects?

Bullying or harassment can have a serious impact on a person's well-being. It can cause psychological and physiological damage. People affected by this can change from being happy and confident at work to being isolated and withdrawn.

In the Workplace

Harassment in the workplace is prohibited under the Employment Equality Act 1998. Employers must also prevent staff from being bullied under the Safety, Health and Welfare at Work Act 1989.

In College

Most colleges have a bullying and harassment policy. This policy usually sets out the colleges commitment to creating and maintaining a environment where all members of the College Community are free to work and study without fear of bullying and harassment from any source. The purpose of the policy is usually is to prevent and deter bullying behaviour and harassment and where it occurs to have effective procedures in place to address the matter.


For Further Information

Your College Website
Anti Bullying Centre, Trinity College Dublin
www.abc.tcd.ie