What is Bullying ?
What is Bullying?
Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere. It is not a phase children have to go
through, it is not “just messing around”, and it is not something to grow out of. Bullying can cause serious and
lasting harm. Although definitions of bullying vary, most agree that bullying involves:
- Imbalance of Power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied
may have a hard time defending themselves
- Intent to Cause Harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to
- Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or
Types of Bullying
Bullying can take many forms. Examples include:
- Verbal: name-calling, teasing
- Social:spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships
- Physical: hitting, punching, shoving
- Cyberbullying: using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others
An act of bullying may fit into more than one of these groups.
Test Your Bullying Knowledge
How much do you really know? Check out these facts and myths about bullying.
FACT: People who bully have power over those they bully.
People who bully others usually pick on those who have less social power (peer status), psychological power
(know how to harm others), or physical power (size, strength). However, some people who bully also have been
bullied by others. People who both bully and are bullied by others are at the highest risk for problems (such as
depression and anxiety) and are more likely to become involved in risky or delinquent behavior.
FACT: Spreading rumors is a form of bullying.
Spreading rumors, name-calling, excluding others, and embarrassing them are all forms of social bullying that
can cause serious and lasting harm.
MYTH: Only boys bully.
People think that physical bullying by boys is the most common form of bullying. However, verbal, social, and
physical bullying happens among both boys and girls, especially as they grow older.
MYTH: People who bully are insecure and have low self-esteem.
Many people who bully are popular and have average or better-than-average self-esteem. They often take pride
in their aggressive behavior and control over the people they bully. People who bully may be part of a group
that thinks bullying is okay. Some people who bully may also have poor social skills and experience anxiety or
depression. For them, bullying can be a way to gain social status.
MYTH: Bullying usually occurs when there are no other students
Students see about four out of every five bullying incidents at school. In fact, when they witness bullying, they
give the student who is bullying positive attention or even join in about three-quarters of the time. Although 9
out of 10 students say there is bullying in their schools, adults rarely see bullying, even if they are looking for
MYTH: Bullying often resolves itself when you ignore it.
Bullying reflects an imbalance of power that happens again and again. Ignoring the bullying teaches students
who bully that they can bully others without consequences. Adults and other students need to stand up for
children who are bullied, and to ensure they are protected and safe.
MYTH: All children will outgrow bullying.
For some, bullying continues as they become older. Unless someone intervenes, the bullying will likely
continue and, in some cases, grow into violence and other serious problems. Children who consistently bully
others often continue their aggressive behavior through adolescence and into adulthood.
MYTH: Reporting bullying will make the situation worse.
Research shows that children who report bullying to an adult are less likely to experience bullying in the future.
Adults should encourage children to help keep their school safe and to tell an adult when they see bullying.
MYTH: Teachers often intervene to stop bullying.
Adults often do not witness bullying despite their good intentions. Teachers intervene in only 14 percent of
classroom bullying episodes and in 4 percent of bullying incidents that happen outside the classroom.
MYTH: Nothing can be done at schools to reduce bullying.
School initiatives to prevent and stop bullying have reduced bullying by 15 to 50 percent. The most successful
initiatives involve the entire school community of teachers, staff, parents, students, and community members.
MYTH: Parents are usually aware that their children are bullying
Parents play a critical role in bullying prevention, but they often do not know if their children bully or are
bullied by others. To help prevent bullying, parents need to talk with their children about what is happening at
school and in the community.
Recognizing the Warning Signs
There are many warning signs that could indicate that someone is involved in bullying, either by bullying others
or by being bullied. However, these warning signs may indicate other issues or problems, as well. If you are a
parent or educator, learn more about talking to someone about bullying.
•Comes home with damaged or missing clothing or other belongings
- Reports losing items such as books, electronics, clothing, or jewelry
- Has unexplained injuries
- Complains frequently of headaches, stomachaches, or feeling sick
- Has trouble sleeping or has frequent bad dreams
- Has changes in eating habits
- Hurts themselves
- Are very hungry after school from not eating their lunch
- Runs away from home
- Loses interest in visiting or talking with friends
- Is afraid of going to school or other activities with peers
- Loses interest in school work or begins to do poorly in school
- Appears sad, moody, angry, anxious or depressed when they come home
- Talks about suicide
- Feels helpless
- Often feels like they are not good enough
- Blames themselves for their problems
•Suddenly has fewer friends
- Avoids certain places
- Acts differently than usual
•Becomes violent with others
- Gets into physical or verbal fights with others
- Gets sent to the principal’s office or detention a lot
- Has extra money or new belongings that cannot be explained
- Is quick to blame others
- Will not accept responsibility for their actions
- Has friends who bully others
- Needs to win or be best at everything