Where do we draw the line between acceptable language and unacceptable language?
What is banter?
The dictionary describes banter as:
the playful and friendly exchange of teasing remarks
Some tips for professionals (adapted with Chris Gibbons, Director of Inside Inclusion):
- Understanding the four elements of bullying is vital to knowing whether something is bullying: intentional, hurtful, repetitive, involves a power imbalance
- Just because ‘banter’ doesn’t constitute all the elements of bullying doesn’t mean it’s acceptable.
- All offensive, threatening, violent and abusive language and behaviour is always unacceptable, whatever your role
- This includes any negative language or behavior in relation to / referring to a protected characteristic under the Equality Act 2010 i.e. age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy and maternity, race, religion or belief, sex (gender), sexual orientation
- Language and behaviour can have different meanings, in different contexts. If you’re unsure, ask what was meant
- Just because someone uses certain language to refer to themselves it doesn’t necessarily means it’s acceptable, nor does it make it ok for you to use it
- Just because you think something is banter or a joke doesn’t mean other people will
- People won’t always feel confident to speak up if they are offended by something. They might even go along with it so as not to draw attention to themselves
- Third parties might be offended, even if they’re not part of your conversation
Some suggested questions to ask young people (adapted from John Khan, Anti-Bullying Practitioner):
- What is banter?
- Can you give me some examples of banter?
- When does banter turn into bullying?
How do we know if we cross the line?
How might we know if we have ‘crossed a line’ with someone?
How might they be feeling or behaving?
Do people use the term banter to disguise bullying?