How to avoid or stop being a bully

If you're actually hitting someone or harming them physically, you know that's a problem. You can get help stopping from these agencies:

  • University wellbeing services: click here for more information

  • University counselling services: click here for more information

  • University chaplaincy team: click here for more information

  • Mind: click here  for guidance on anger issues and for a link to help services.

However, bullying is not only physical - the Anti-Bullying Alliance defines it as "the repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power.".

You might be becoming a bully if you find that you, alone or with a group, are picking on someone verbally, making fun of how they look or how they choose to live their life, trying to drive them out of accommodation, or doing anything you know upsets them.

Even banter can turn into bullying: what you think is funny might really hurt someone else, particularly if one person or one thing a person does is repeatedly the butt of the 'joke'.

You might be becoming a bully if you pick on them online or "troll" them – online comments can be just as damaging as spoken ones. You can get in a lot more trouble than you might think for online bullying – it leaves a permanent record, so it's really easy to prove.

Even if you don't intend to hurt the person, look for signs of them being upset: if you're a forceful person, or someone who keeps on arguing till they get heir own way, or someone who isn't looking for how other people are feeling, you might be in danger of becoming a bully.

If someone you know seems to go quiet or get upset around you, take the time to ask them what's wrong. Listen to what they tell you. There's no need to be defensive (avoid responses like "Don't be silly", "That's not what I meant", "How can you think that of me?") – accept they're telling you how they feel honestly. Then ask how they feel you can put things right.

You might find you have to work at the relationship after that, but no-one said life was easy.

If you need help getting things right, speak to one of the agencies we mentioned earlier on this page. Don't be afraid to get help: the fact that you want to move forward is a really positive thing.