Forms of Bullying

There are many forms of bullying that can take place in the school environment. It is critical that teachers and staff working at schools are educated in the different forms of bullying that could be happening around them and learn techniques on how to identify and stop behavior from becoming prevalent.

The word “bullying” is broadly used to describe many different types of behavior, which may be physical or verbal. Because of their generational experiences, adults are naturally on the lookout for physical, overt forms of bullying. Bullying today is not so overt: Research shows that most bullying today does not involve physical contact.3It also includes psychological methods, such as labeled gateway behaviors. Bullying may arise when a person ignores a serious assault or abuse. Bullying may embrace

discrimination on a more individual basis; identity-based bullying or prejudice-driven bullying refer to bullying based on a group rather than individual characteristic, and may include racial harassment, faith-based bullying, sexual harassment or homophobic bullying.31The important thing is not the action but the effect on the victim.

Labeled Gateway Behaviors

Labeled gateway behaviors are socially inappropriate behaviors used to convey contempt and dominance, such as whispering about others in front of them, laughing at them openly, eye-rolling, ignoring, name-calling, encouraging peers to drop friends, posting embarrassing photos online, and so on. Gateway behaviors in and of themselves do not necessarily indicate bullying. Students may use gateway behaviors when they are in a quarrel or simply annoyed with a peer. Regardless, these “beginning” or low-risk ways of asserting power or expressing contempt, left unchecked, can normalize disrespect and thus escalate into conflict and bullying. It is the repeatedand targeted use of gateway behaviors by powerful peers, with the intent to demean and harass, which becomes true bullying.4

Physical Bullying

Physical bullying involves contact with another person or their possessions and includes hitting, kicking or pinching another person, spitting, tripping or pushing them, or making them do things they do not want to do.10-12

Other forms of physical bullying are destroying possessions or making inappropriate or mean gestures.5

Those negative actions, which can include threats, physical attacks, words, gestures, or social exclusion, occur in a context always characterized by an imbalance between the bully and the victim. The repercussions of bullying,

even when it doesn’t escalate into violence, are rarely limited to the victims alone. Students in schools with serious bullying problems report feeling less safe and less satisfied with their schools. Students in schools where bullying problems are ignored and aggressive behavior is not addressed are likely to become more aggressive and less tolerant as well. Bullying affects the school climate and the learning environment of every classroom.5,13

Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying is defined as any words used to cause pain or harm. Examples include calling someone by a rude name, making inappropriate or sexual comments, teasing or taunting, or making a threat.6A child may bully another child by making the other child feel uncomfortable or scared.10-12

Social Bullying

Social bullying, which can also be known as relational bullying or social aggression, revolves around endangering another person’s relation to his or her community. This type of bullying may take the form of ostracism, spreading rumors (so there is a verbal bullying aspect of social bullying), causing public embarrassment, or telling falsehoods behind someone’s back.7Examples of this may include saying or writing nasty comments about the person, leaving the person out of activities or not talking to himor

her.10-12This social aggression rises to the level of bullying when it is repetitive and when the instigator intends to harm the victim.