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Help & Information

The ‘Accidental’ Bully

Okay, now that we’ve got your attention, we want you to think about if it is possible that at some point in your life you have bullied another person at school or work without setting out to be destructive.

The extreme side of bullying is identified in other pages throughout this website, but as bullying is a behaviour and not a person, anyone can be a bully – even ‘nice’ people.

The whole concept behind the ‘accidental (or unintentional) bully’ is that possibly they don’t realise what they are doing. They might not mean to bully someone, or they may think there isn’t anything wrong with their behaviour. But to the other person, any behaviour that makes someone feel hurt, sad, alone, worried or anxious is bullying.

Think about the term ‘accidental bullying’ and take a look at the below. Have you ever done any of these on a regular basis?

  • Rolled your eyes when someone has said something you disagree with
  • Sighed heavily when someone has spoken
  • Laughed when others make a joke about another person
  • Shouted or sworn at someone
  • Shared a photo online of someone without their consent which then incites negative comments
  • Shared or re-tweeted a post without really reading it

These are just a few situations when another person is hurt through ‘accidental (or unintentional) bullying’.

Take a look at our video below which highlights an ‘accidental bullying’ incident.

Accidental bullying rarely gets as much attention as ‘bullying’ because it happens so often and the consequences seem to be much less serious. After all, everyone could be accused of accidental bullying at some point in their lives. Possibly most people have all let off a snide comment about how that ‘person looks strange’, or laughing with others when a ‘joke’ is made about someone.  A group of friends may have perfectly innocent intentions, but it’s very easy to take the joking too far. The person on the receiving end may just laugh it off, but on the inside, it hurts!

Even when the intentions are innocent, it is still bullying and the person responsible should still be shown that they were at fault and their behaviour is unacceptable. If they persist in their actions, then further actions would be necessary.

So how can we stop ‘accidental bullying?’ Be mindful of our words and actions. Awareness and empathy are also important factors. Whenever we speak or stay silent, keep in mind how others feel. Behind the cover of shrugs and smiles may be hidden hurt. If we witness accidental bullying, we should let the instigators know that their actions may have hurt others.  More education and emphasis should be made available because if there are more studies and articles on this topic, awareness will increase. In the end, just standing in someone’s shoes can make all the difference.

When online, always be aware of what you are posting, liking, sharing, re-tweeting. Stop and think! Is this going to hurt or upset anyone?

  • Choose your words carefully
  • ALWAYS get permission from anyone in the photos you wish to share online
  • Check it’s okay before you tag them
  • Be careful what posts you like or forward. Read the content fully before you do and make sure no-one will be hurt by it

So is bullying still bullying when it’s unintentional?

And does it really matter?

In our experience, the answer to both of these questions is yes.

It is important we remain self-aware and call ourselves on any behaviour that could be impacting the work performance and general well-being and happiness of a friend, peer or work colleague.

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Need to talk?

If you are being bullied or are concerned about someone who is, you can receive help and support from one of our trained Mentors through our e-mentoring service.

If you would like a Mentor to email you, please contact: mentorsonline@bulliesout.com

If you would rather speak to someone over the telephone, you can call Childline on: 0800 1111

For any community-related issues, such as anti-social behaviour, we would suggest contacting your landlord, the local police or your local environmental health department (where applicable), as we are unable to deal with these types of complaints.