Bullying and Harassment
There is no legal definition of bullying, but it is usually considered a repeated behaviour which is intended to hurt another individual. If you are being bullied because of your race, religion, gender, sexual orientation or other physical aspect, this may be considered as discriminatory behaviour. In extreme cases, prejudice-motivated bullying may be considered a hate crime and an individual responsible for perpetrating hate crime may be prosecuted by the local authorities.
Bullying and harrassment are never okay and there is plenty of support available for you. The University's Disclosure Response Team are a team of specialist staff, trained to support those experiencing harassment, hate crime, sexual violence, relationship abuse and other forms of unacceptable behaviour. They will always believe what you tell them.
The Disclosure Response Team
If you believe you are in immediate danger or you are concerned about your safety, learn how to access further help and keep yourself safe.
Please complete the online disclosure form to make an identified or anonymous disclosure.
The Disclosure Response Team aim to respond to all disclosures within two working days, within the hours of 09:00-16:00, Monday to Friday, excluding bank holidays.
They understand that it can be difficult to trust other people to tell them what has happened. Some common worries about sharing these experiences include:
- what if no one believes me?
- what if I’m judged?
- what has happened to me is not that bad
- the person who is responsible is someone I know.
It is your choice whether you tell someone about your experiences. However, it is important to know that the University can support you.
The Disclosure Response Team take all disclosures seriously and will believe what you tell them.
Types of Bullying
There are varying forms of bulling that you may be subject to. These can include:
- Physical assault – where someone, or a group of individuals, cause physical damage to you or your possessions.
- Social bullying – social exclusion or damaging someone’s social reputation or acceptance
- Threatening behaviour – threatening or manipulative acts intended to make you feel inferior or endangered.
- Name calling – Inappropriate use of language to refer to you or someone you are close to.
- Cyberbullying – Online abuse facilitated through social networks, games, chat rooms or an online forum.
- Sexual bullying – Where sexuality or gender is used as a weapon against another individual.
Sometimes it can be difficult to determine whether you are being bullied or not as some forms of bullying are hard to differentiate from a prank or banter between friends. However, if you are feeling emotionally and physically drained as a result of repetitive and harmful actions from a peer or individual, you may find that their behaviours constitute a form of bullying. If this is the case, you are within your rights to speak out and seek support.
Cyber bullying is increasingly common as more people create and maintain online identities either through social media, gaming, or online forums. Cyber bullying is where someone initiates or suffers abuse through an online platform. This can be very scary and malicious as it is often easier for a perpetrator to bully others anonymously with little or no repercussion for their actions.
There are a growing number of online platforms where cyber bullying can occur so it is very important to be careful and considerate when you are posting online, or speaking on a shared form. Some of the apps commonly used by students that could facilitate cyber bullying include:
If you are familiar with these applications, we would strongly advise you to use them with caution; given the increasing emphasis being placed on life online, it is important that you are mindful of those you are in digital contact with.
There are a number of behaviours that are considered as cyber bullying and we have listed some below for you to be aware of:
- Harassment – the sending of deliberately offensive or abusive messages.
- Denigration – circulating false and damaging information about another individual and/or spreading edited and improper images of an individual without their knowledge and consent.
- Flaming – Purposefully using extreme language online and contributing to online arguments with a view to sparking emotional reactions from others.
- Impersonation – Hacking into someone else’s account or profile to post as them without their permission or consent.
- Outing and trickery – Sharing other people’s personal information online.
- Cyber stalking – Repeatedly sending threatening or intimidating messages through an online platform to a single individual or group of individuals.
- Exclusion – Leaving out (a) certain individual(s) from a chat, conversation or page with a view to excluding them from a social group.
If you are concerned that you may have been a victim of cyber bullying, please consider our guidance on how to recover from bullying below.
Notably, in addition to the list of cyber bullying behaviours listed above, the screen capturing, or possession of sexual or inappropriate images may also be considered as cyber bullying. It is inappropriate, and often illegal, to possess or share a sexual or compromised image of an individual without their consent. Sexting, the sending and/or receiving of sexually explicit messages, is an increasingly common behaviour on digital messaging platforms. Although the sharing an intimate photo with a trusted individual may not be considered a crime, the sharing of pornographic images without the consent of the subject (or if that person is under 18) can be a criminal offence and lead to prosecution.
If you have noticed that you are being treated inappropriately by a colleague, peer or family member, it is possible that you may be a victim of bullying. It is not unusual for this to make you feel physically and emotionally exhausted and in some cases will lead to low mood. If this is the case, there are some things that you can try to make yourself feel better and to seek professional support.
- Trust your instincts – it can be difficult to recognise bullying behaviours, especially if you are on the receiving end. If you start to notice that someone is repeatedly making you feel sad, nervous or endangered you should always seek help.
- Look at the big picture – often, people who exhibit bullying behaviours do so because of insecurities or events that have occurred in their personal life. This does not excuse their behaviour, but may help you to accept what they are doing, with a view to safeguarding your own wellbeing.
- Manage feelings of stress – If you are being bullied, it is common to feel like you are managing an extreme level of stress – because you are! Feelings of anxiety and sadness can increase your stress levels and make everyday tasks seem very difficult and sometimes impossible. If you can, you may want to re-introduce some stress-busting techniques into your routine. This might include having a balanced diet, taking part in at least one hour of daily exercise, and trying to get around eight hours of sleep every night.
- Ask for help – if you are comfortable to do so, you may be able to confide in a friend, colleague, or family member to make them aware of the circumstances you are experiencing. If you do not feel able to speak to a friend you may be able to contact our Student Advice service, or a trusted individual within your School such as a personal tutor.
- Meet new people – You may benefit from meeting new people and spending less time with the individual in question. At Cardiff University, there are a number of Clubs, Societies or Volunteering Groups available for you to get involved in to help you broaden your social circle.
- Be yourself – it is often easy to let bullish behaviour knock your confidence and stop you from taking part in the things you enjoy or acting in a certain way. It is important to remember that you are not the problem.
- Counselling and Wellbeing – if you find that the bullying behaviour is having a detrimental impact on your mental wellbeing, you may want to access the support available from Cardiff University’s Counselling and Wellbeing service. If you feel like your mental health has become unmanageable, we would advise you to also make contact with your GP.
- Student Liaison Officer – If you are comfortable to do so, you may want to contact Cardiff University’s Student Liaison officer to make them aware of the behaviour of the individual in question. Their contact address is Michael.Neate@south-wales.pnn.police.uk.
- Citizens Advice – the Citizens Advice Bureau also provides guidance on how to report abuse if you feel unsafe.
You can also contact the Student Advice service for free, confidential and independent advice available for all students of Cardiff University. We are independent of the University and our role is to give you impartial advice and guidance and help you understand the options available to you.
Student Advice can also provide you with practical advice and support. We can advise on housing and any implications of the bullying on your study. If the perpetrator is a Cardiff University student, we can advise on how to make a complaint against them to the University. We can support you through your complaint and advise on submitting extenuating circumstances or taking an interruption of study if that becomes necessary.
If your circumstances are impacting your wellbeing and/or ability to study and perform at your usual level, we can
Supporting someone who is being bullied
Although it can be difficult, it is important to act if you are witness to bullying behaviour that may put another individual at risk. The support that you are able to provide to an individual may vary depending on your relationship with them, the type of bullying they are experiencing, and the impact that it is having on them.
Some of the ways that you may be able to help include:
- Call 999 - If you witness physical abuse which is causing physical harm to an individual and requires urgent attention you should report the incident to the emergency services.
- Disclosure Response Team – If you believe that the victim is experiencing bullying relating to sexual assault, rape, domestic violence, stalking, harassment or hate crime you can contact the University’s Disclosure Response Team. The Disclosure Response Team are a team of specialist University staff, trained to respond to disclosures of violence and abuse.
- Student Intervention Team - If the situation involves a serious risk to others’ you can disclose a concern to the Student Intervention Team using this referral form. The Student Intervention Team is a confidential support service for students and operates on weekdays between 10:00 and 16:00.
- Provide pastoral support – It can be very difficult for a victim of bullying to reach out for support. If you notice that a friend or acquaintance is a recipient of bullying behaviour, they may appreciate being engaged in conversation with someone who has noticed and understood the situation. When engaging an individual in conversation, especially in difficult circumstances, you should avoid:
- Forcing them into an uncomfortable conversation. Being bullied can be very damaging on your self-confidence and levels of anxiety, and they may not be ready to discuss this with you. If you can demonstrate that you are available and happy to talk, they may approach you for support in their own time.
- Being judgemental. It is difficult to offer understanding if you do not understand, but if a victim of bullying is looking for support, it is important listen open-mindedly.
- Condoning the bully’s behaviour. As mentioned previously, bullies often adopt violent or discriminatory behaviour as a result of their personal circumstances, but this does not make them any less responsible for their actions. When supporting a victim of bullying, it is important that you remind them that they are not to blame.
- Supporting a victim of bullying online – Cyber bullying is increasingly common as it is difficult to hold individuals accountable for discriminatory or prejudice posts and comments. As a result, it is often easy to ignore and forget comments that are not directly aimed at you. However, in order to address cyber bullying, and to limit the impact and scope that these comments have on other members of the public, you can report comments, posts and images, that may be considered offensive. Although this may not always lead to the removal of offensive items, your actions may help to support others.
Unfortunately, it is not uncommon for bullying to occur within a romantic or sexual relationship. In this circumstance, it is often difficult to recognise abusive or bullying behaviour, or to escape from the relationship.
Bullying in a relationship can take many different forms. Some of the most common forms of abuse in a relationship include:
- Emotional bullying;
- Verbal abuse;
- Physical abuse;
- Controlling behaviours; and
- Sexual bullying.
Sexual bullying can range from the use of degrading and sexual language to sexually manipulate an individual, to the application of pressure on an individual to make them act promiscuously.
It is common for an individual who is experiencing, or who has experienced, an abusive relationship to feel ashamed, but it is important to accept that these behaviours are not normal nor acceptable. For more advice on Violence, Abuse and Unhealthy Relationships and the support available, please see our webpage here.
As above, the Disclosure Response Team are here to provide the help and support you need.
If you notice, or are a victim, of bullying behaviour from a Cardiff University student, you may wish to report them under the Student Conduct Procedure. Find out more about how to raise a concern about another student, here.
If you are reported for bullying, this may lead to disciplinary action. It is important to be aware of what the University expects of you in terms of conduct because, if your behaviour is deemed to breach requirements, you could be investigated under the Student Conduct Procedure.
If your behaviour is reported to the police or the local authorities, they may also choose to investigate the claim. Depending on the severity of the matter, this may contribute to an investigation of your behaviour under the Student Conduct Procedure, and if you are on a Professional Registration Course, an investigation under the Fitness to Practise procedure.
Contact Student Advice
+44 (0)2920 781410