It isn’t always easy to tell the difference between banter and bullying. Having a laugh with your friends is a normal part of friendships, but how do you know when the roast has gone too far? We’ve put together some tips so you can tell the difference.

What is banter?

Banter is a friendly back and forth between two people or a group of people. True banter or ‘roasting’ is not intended to (and does not have the effect of) shaming, upsetting, belittling, offending or making someone uncomfortable. Banter between friends is a shared joke.

Signs that banter may have gone too far:

1. Is there only one person in on the joke?

If you, or someone else, are the only person in on the joke then this might be a sign that the joke is more bullying than banter. Good banter is about a back and forth exchange, not a one-way-attack on another person.

2. Is the joke embarrassing, insulting or shaming towards another person?

A bit of friendly back and forth is one thing, but if your banter intends, or has the effect of, embarrassing or shaming a person then think twice before you say it.

3. Is the joke about someone’s gender, religion, sexuality, race, ethnicity or disability?

There are some things that it’s best not to joke about. Making fun of personal or sensitive parts of someone’s identity is going beyond banter and towards bullying. Do your best to stay clear of anything that you know the other person may feel sensitive about.

4. Has the person let you know (or is acting like) they don’t like it?

Banter is only fun if both sides are in on the joke together. If the person who the joke is aimed at seems uncomfortable or has asked you to stop, take that as your cue that the banter may be about to cross the line into bullying.

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