Who is at Risk?

Risk Factors

Children at Risk

No single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied or bullying others. Bullying can happen anywhere. Depending on the environment, some groups, such as those with a different sexual orientation, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youths, may be at an increased risk of being bullied.

In general, children who are bullied have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Are perceived as different from their peers, such as being overweight or underweight, wearing glasses or different clothing, being new to a school, or being unable to afford what kids consider “cool”
  • Are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves
  • Are depressed, anxious, or have low self esteem
  • Are less popular than others and have few friends
  • Do not get along well with others, seen as annoying or provoking, or antagonize others for attention.

However, even if a child has these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that they will be bullied.

Children more likely to Bully

The most likely children to bully others can be broadly split into two categories:

  • Those popular with their peers and who like to be in charge or dominate others
  • Those more isolated from their peers seeking attention and popularity and may not identify with the emotions or feelings of others

Children who have these factors are also more likely to bully others

  • Are aggressive or who get easily frustrated
  • Have little parental involvement or problems at home
  • Have little regard others
  • Dislike following rules
  • View violence as a way to solve issues
  • Have friends who are bullies

Importantly, bullies do not necessarily need to be bigger or stronger than those they pick on. Their domination and power over their victims can come from various sources, including, popularity, strength, cognitive ability—and they may have more than one of these characteristics.

Workplace Bullying

Under the Equality Act of 2010, bullying and harassment is behaviour that makes someone feel intimidated or offended.

Examples of bullying or harassing behaviour include:

  • spreading malicious rumours
  • unfair treatment
  • picking on someone
  • regularly undermining a competent worker
  • denying someone’s training or promotion opportunities

Bullying and harassment can happen:

  • face-to-face
  • by letter
  • by email
  • on social networking
  • by phone


The law

Bullying itself isn’t against the law, but harassment is. This is when the unwanted behaviour is related to one of the following:

  • age
  • sex
  • disability
  • gender (including gender reassignment)
  • marriage and civil partnership
  • pregnancy and maternity
  • race
  • religion or belief
  • sexual orientation

What employees should do if bullied or harassed

Employees should see if they can sort out the problem informally first. If they can’t, they should talk to their:

  • manager
  • human resources (HR) department
  • trade union representative

If this doesn’t work, they can make a formal complaint using their employer’s grievance procedure. If this doesn’t work and they’re still being harassed, they can take legal action at an employment tribunal.
Another option is to contact ACAS
(The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) for advice:

Telephone: 0300 123 1100