Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children.
It involves one person using power to control or harm others. That power can be physical strength, the popularity of the bully or having information to embarrass the other person. Bullying behaviors usually are repeated over and over.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Types of Bullying
- Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments or threatening to cause harm
- Social bullying is also called relational bullying. This involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors about someone or embarrassing someone in public.
- Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking someone’s things or making mean or rude hand gestures.
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology like a cell phone or computer, as well as social media sites, text messages, chat and websites.
Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.
Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well.
- Cyberbullying can happen any time of the day or night.
- Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. That can make it difficult to trace the source.
- Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.
Cell phones and computers are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used in a positive way, like connecting with friends and family and helping with school assignments. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.
Effects of Bullying
Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues, such as:
- Use alcohol and drugs
- Skip school
- Be unwilling to attend school
- Receive poor grades
- Have lower self-esteem
- Have more health problems
Signs of Bullying
Not all children who are bullied show visible warning signs. However, here are some things that might indicate a bullying problem:
- Unexplainable injuries
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
- Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
- Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
- Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
- Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
- Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
- Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
What to Do
It is important for adults to take a stand against bullying and to send a firm message that bullying of any kind is not acceptable. If you see bullying happening, there are steps that can help stop it on the spot and keep kids safe:
- Step in right away if you see or hear about bullying. Get another adult to help if needed.
- Separate the kids involved in the situation. Make sure everyone is safe.
- If there are any immediate medical or mental health needs, call 9-1-1.
- Stay calm. Reassure the kids and any bystanders who are nearby.
- Model respectful behavior.
Other things you can do:
- If you think a child is being bullied at school, contact the child's teacher, school principal, school counselor or the school superintendent.
- If a child is acting differently than normal, reach out to a school counselor or other mental health professional.
Bullying in the Workplace
Bullying doesn't just happen to kids. It can also take place with adults at work. Office bullying can lead to increased absenteeism, employee turnover, even lawsuits. Here’s how employers can reduce aggressive behavior among employees:
- Create an environment of open, effective communication.
- Teach employees to understand each other. Knowing your coworkers, their personalities and their work styles can help reduce conflict.
- Establish a policy of respect. A policy that defines bullying and establishes consequences is important.