Understanding Bullying Behavior

Bullying can take place in traditional face-to-face situations, or it can happen online, which is known as cyberbullying. Nearly two-thirds of the children and teens who are bullied don’t report it. The reasons for bullying can vary, but this abuse often focuses on someone’s appearance. If peers intervene in a bullying situation, a bully will often stop targeting a victim. Bullying can cause depression and anxiety as well as academic problems in students, but by taking action, you and your friends can help stop it.

What Is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as negative behavior designed to hurt others either physically or emotionally. A bully assumes a position of power over a victim or victims, either using physical size or a dominant social status. Bullying is usually an ongoing situation that involves cruelty toward a target. Sometimes, people confuse fighting with bullying. The difference between fighting and bullying is the balance of power: When engaged in fighting, students have equal positions of power, but when bullying is occurring, an imbalance of power is present.

Types of Bullying

Physical bullying involves abuse such as hitting, pinching, pushing, or tripping. This type of bullying might also involve damage to property. Verbal bullying involves teasing, name-calling, insults, or other types of exchanges of words between people. Social bullying is another type of bullying, and it may involve humiliation or the damage of another person’s reputation. This could happen by spreading false rumors, playing mean jokes, mimicking, or working to socially exclude someone.


Cyberbullying is a type of bullying that is becoming increasingly common. Cyberbullying might involve text messages, emails, or exchanges on a social media site. A cyberbully might use these avenues to spread rumors, exclude a victim, engage in public humiliation, or share private images with others. Although cyberbullying occurs online, the effects of this type of harassment can be devastating. Information often passes through electronic channels quickly, which means that a cyberbully’s abusive tactics can reach many people in a short time.

Bullying Prevention

Effective policies and procedures are crucial for bullying prevention. Schools must have clear policies about what is considered bullying along with procedures for dealing with these situations. Supervision of students in all areas of the school can help prevent bullying. Students also need education and encouragement to stand up for themselves and others in bullying situations. When peers step forward and protect victims from bullies, the bullies will often stop the harassment.

Bullying Behavior

For years, parents and teachers told kids to ignore bullying because it was considered a rite of passage. However, now, people understand that bullying behavior can have a major impact on personal well-being and safety. Bullying behavior can sometimes be tricky to label, especially if a bully is careful not to break rules. For example, laughing would never be against school rules. However, making fun of someone and mimicking them in a cruel way with laughter can be a common type of verbal bullying. When this type of behavior happens repeatedly, it moves from what might be considered appropriate to what would be considered abusive bullying behavior.

Parent Resources

Parents will need to stay involved with their kids to be able to react appropriately in a bullying situation. If a child is a victim, the parent should step in to assist and protect the child. Parents can call school administrators or local law enforcement to share evidence about the bullying situation. If a child is a bully, the parent will need to have a conversation with the child about the bullying behavior. It’s important to explain that the bullying hurts others and won’t be tolerated while warning the child about school policies and punishments for these actions. Whether a child is an aggressor or a victim, it may be necessary to seek counseling to help with this situation.

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