Teasing can be light-hearted and a way to learn how to receive and manage constructive criticism, but "bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior...that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time" (StopBullying.gov). Unlike teasing, bullying is intentional and meant to hurt others. It can happen in person and even online as cyberbullying. Bullying should never be acceptable, as it can lead to consequences such as low self-esteem, loneliness, depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts that can affect a person throughout the rest of his/her life.
Most of the time, people only associate bullying with children or teenagers. Growing up doesn't necessarily mean maturing, and bullying also affects adults. Adult bullies try to gain power over a person and be dominant, usually through humiliation. Workplace bullying can make job performance difficult, and it is best to document the bullying, notify supervisors, and even take legal or civil action in extreme cases.
There are four main types of bullying that apply to children, teens, and adults:
- Verbal Bullying is saying or writing mean things. This includes name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, and threatening to cause harm.
- Social Bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. This includes leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors, and embarrassing someone in public.
- Physical Bullying involves hurting a person's body or possessions. This includes hitting/kicking/pinching, spitting, tripping/pushing, taking or breaking someone's things, and making mean or rude hand gestures.
- Cyberbullying involves verbal and social bullying through social media, instant messaging, texting, websites, and other online platforms. This includes abusive or hurtful texts, emails, posts, images, and videos, deliberately excluding others online, spreading gossip or rumors, and imitating other online or using their log-in.
Additionally, there are varying types of bullies:
- The Narcissistic Bully puts others down to make him/herself feel good. This type of bully has a large ego and lacks empathy.
- The Social Bully is jealous of others and has a poor sense of self but hides it behind exaggerated confidence and charm. This type of bully typically uses rumors, gossip, verbal taunts, and exclusion.
- The Bullied Bully (also known as the Bullied Victim) is a target of bullies as well as a bully to those weaker than him/her. This type of bully typically takes out his/her powerlessness from being bullied onto others that are weaker.
- The Bunch of Bullies are a group of potentially "nice" people collectively do a bullying act towards someone that they would not have done if they were alone. These types of bullies have group mentality.
- The Gang of Bullies are a group of allies, not friends, that are banded together for reasons of power, control, and domination over a particular area. These types of bullies have a dedication to the group which enables them to disregard the consequences of their actions and the pain they inflict on others.
- The Secondary Bully does not initiate the bullying but joins in so that he/she does not actually become a victim in the future. This type of bully may feel bad about what he/she is doing but is more concerned with protecting him/herself.
For more information about bullying and ways to prevent or stop it, please refer to the bullying videos, resources, and organizations on the left side as well as Helen Hall Library's books about bullying below.