Bullying, also known as peer abuse or peer harassment, is defined as behavior that is intended to hurt or cause pain in others and that is repeated over time. Bullies engage in aggressive behaviors and try to control others by establishing dominance via a real or perceived imbalance of power. Although bullying is often mischaracterized as a relatively benign social interaction or "part of growing up", its effects can be devastating, both in the short term and in the long term.  Bullying involves exploiting an imbalance of power where the aggressor blames the target and the target often blames him or herself for the abuse.

There are different types of bullying which can be direct or indirect.  Here are some types of bullying and examples of bullying behaviors:


  • Physical bullying - (direct) physical aggression or abuse intended to hurt or intimidate another person.  Examples include hitting, beating, tripping, poking, shoving, throwing objects, kicking, slapping, pulling hair, biting, pinching, stabbing and the taking or damaging of belongings. Males or females may engage in and experience this type of bullying.
  • Verbal bullying - (indirect) teasing, name calling, threatening remarks, insulting remarks, "the silent treatment", staring, giggling, mocking, gossip/false gossip to others, and criticizing the victim in socially-significant ways (i.e. dress, socio-economic status, religion, race, disability, gender, perceived gender, sexual preference or perceived sexual preference). Males or females may engage in and experience this type of behavior.
  • Social bullying - (indirect) aggression or bullying via social exclusion, the manipulation of child/preteen/teen's social network through gossip, false gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bulling other people who socialize with the victim, mocking the victim, making statements that trigger a reaction and damaging of peer relationships using lies, etc.
  • Sexual Bullying - (direct or indirect) comments, gestures, actions, or attention that is intended to hurt, offend, or intimidate another person. The focus is on things like a person's appearance, body parts, or sexual orientation. Sexual bullying includes spreading gossip or rumors of a sexual nature. Sexual bullying or harassment may be verbal (like making rude comments to or about someone), but it doesn't have to be spoken. Bullies may use technology to harass someone sexually (like sending inappropriate text messages or videos). Sometimes harassment and bullying can become physical leading to sexual harassment, molestation, or rape.
  • Cyber bullying - (indirect) when a child, preteen or teen is tormented, harassed, humiliated, embarrassed or otherwise targeted by another child, preteen or teen using the internet, interactive and digital technologies or mobile phones. It can be much longer-lasting than other types of bullying and can include behaviors like: sending hateful messages to your child, anonymous or signed, your child's photo being posted on bashing websites (i.e. vote for the ugliest kid at school) or hate group websites, posting provocative photos of your child (real or artificially created) on pedophile groups, death threats sent to your child or posted online about your child, stealing or guessing your child's password to causing issues, hacking you computer to cause issues, ID and credit-card theft, sending 1000s of text-messages to your child daily, falsely warning/notifying you ISP provider that your child violated the terms of use resulting in the loss of an account, broadcasting your child's private communication to others, broadcasting personal contact information and the name of your child to provoke an offline attack.

Bullying in any form has negative impact on communities and individuals.  Targets of bullying may be absent more often or drop out altogether, may experience academic difficulties and somatic symptoms (such as fatigue, aches and pains, changes in sleep patterns), and can lead to suicide or homicide. Bullying also has a negative impact on the bullies as well.  One in four bullies had a criminal record by age thirty, according to one study, and bullying put males at greater risk for domestic violence and females at risk for becoming abusive mothers.

Many parents and teachers have overlooked the pervasiveness of bullying in schools throughout the United States. Bullying is damaging physically, academically and emotionally to both the victim and the perpetrator and recent studies show that bullying, even perceived minor incidences, can have life-long negative consequences.  Please click on the links below to find out more about bullying and what you can do to help.


The above information was compiled from:

Peer Abuse Learning Services and "Bullying and Harassment in Schools and the Rights of Children" a journal article in Children and Society, volume 14, 2000.
U.S. National Center for Education Statistics