Difference Between Bullying and Harassment

Bullying vs Harassment


Bullying and harassment can be viewed as two forms of problematic behavior between which a number of differences can be identified. These problematic behaviors are often encountered by people in public places such as schools, workplace, and surprisingly even in shopping malls. Many take them to be one and the same whereas, despite being similar, there are many differences between bullying and harassment. First it is vital to gain a basic understanding of the two terms. Bullying is most commonly seen among children where some kids tend to show aggressive behavior against other kids that cannot be termed as normal. This behavior is termed as offensive, cruel, and intimidating by psychologists. Harassment, on the other hand, is an extension of this bullying at the level of adults and is often seen in the workplace. This article attempts to highlight the differences between the two terms while elucidating each term.

What is Bullying?

Bullying can be viewed as intimidating a weaker person. It takes place when those, who indulge in bullying, perceive some people as better than them. This phenomenon can especially be observed in the school setting. For an example, have you ever noticed how a group of kids in school tries to bully weaker students even hurting them physically? They may throw bags, copies, water bottles and think of imaginative ways to cause trouble for victims, trying to have fun at the expense of misery of weaker students. This can have very negative effects on the child who is being bullied as it is a direct blow to the child’s self-esteem. When a child is being bullied in school on a daily basis, the child shows signs of resistance to going to school. Bullying can be understood as a relationship issue which is difficult to terminate.

What is Harassment?

Harassment can be defined as interfering with an individual. This can take place in a more subtle way at workplace or at other public places. There are instances when people are quietly waiting for their turn to get their items invoiced and someone barges in from the side and tries to get his purchase invoiced first? You are hurt and insulted but cannot speak up as the person or group that indulges in harassment is more powerful than you. Harassment is a human rights issue. It takes place as one or more people form a group and tries to discriminate on the basis of age, sex, and race, color of skin, religion, or disability. Harassment is dealt with human rights violation in many countries; especially, in the case of harassing women in work environments and public places is considered as an offense. Adult harassment is more common at workplace than many people think. Bullying also goes on at workplaces, but the major difference between bullying and harassment is that while harassment can be terminated, it is not easy to put an end to bullying. The nature of workplace is such that bullying goes on without other getting to know about it.

Difference Between Bullying and Harassment - What is Harassment

The best way, to differentiate between bullying and harassment, is to remember that harassment is based on discrimination while bullying results from jealousy and insecurity. Another thing, to remember, is that bullying is an ongoing problem while harassment takes place only occasionally. Bullies indulge in these acts to overcome their feelings of insecurity while harassers derive vicarious pleasure out of targeting people.

What is the Difference Between Bullying and Harassment?

  • Bullying and harassment are problem behaviors often encountered at workplace.
  • Bullying results from insecurity while harassment results from perceived differences based on skin, gender, race, or religion.
  • Harassment is punishable under law while bullying often goes on unabated.

Image Courtesy:

1. “Frustrated man at a desk (cropped)” by LaurMG. – Cropped from “File:Frustrated man at a desk.jpg”.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons