You are at:

Strengthening the target to deal with bullying behaviour

There are lots of information and training out there that suggests helping the target to deal with bullying behaviour. Things like supporting the target emotionally and provide skills to help them to become less vulnerable, deal with issues, deflect bullying behaviour and resolve conflict. A key draw back...
… to this is that does not really get to the heart of the matter, the user of the bullying behaviour should change their behaviour, not the target. That is not to say strengthening and training does not have its place but it is not the only thing that should be done.


  • Assertive training can help targets manage low level incidents themselves
  • Can provide early intervention by allowing everyone to address minor incidents before they escalate
  • Helps develop a positive organisation wide culture
  • There is lots of training options available
  • Can be used in whole organisation approach without specifically identifying targets
  • Recognises that targets need and require support after incidences
  • Targets can be highly self motivated to participate


  • Likely only to help change bullying behaviour in low level incidences or isolated occurrences.
  • The target might be doing their best to no avail. Liefooghe & Roongrergsuke (2012) suggest coping by targets is a process rather than a trait and if bullying behaviour continues after attempts to actively deal with it, targets will generally “adopt more passive strategies.”
  • Can blame the target for being a victim of bullying behaviour
  • Requires the target to change and not the bullying behaviour user
  • Does little to address or change the behaviours of the bullying behaviour user’s
  • Requires good assessment of the situation as to when this is effective
  • Fails to adequately address problems of group behaviours
  • Power difference or skill level might make it impossible for the target to overcome the disadvantage

When using this approach think about what other complementary measures you can use as well. You need users of bullying behaviour to change their behaviour too.


Field, Evelyn. M. (1999) Bully Busting

Liefooghe, Andreas and Roongrergsuke, Siriyupa (2012) Systematic Suffering. In Noreen, Tehrani (Ed.) Workplace Bullying: Symptoms and Solutions (pp. 278-290).

Rigby, Ken (2010) Bullying Interventions in Schools: Six Basic Approaches
 You are at: