Types of Bullying

Although definitions of bullying vary, most agree that bullying usually includes:

  • attack or intimidation with the intention to cause fear, distress, or harm that is either:
    • physical (e.g., hitting, punching),
    • verbal (e.g., name-calling, teasing), or
    • psychological/relational (e.g., rumors, social exclusion);
  • a real or perceived imbalance of power between the bully and victim; and repeated attacks or intimidation between the same children over time (Farrington & Ttofi, 2010).

Threatening behavior includes verbal, nonverbal or written threats against a person, the person’s friends or family or property. It generally consists of threats to hurt or destroy.

Verbal bullying is name-calling, making offensive remarks (e.g. racist, sexist or homophobic), or joking about a person’s religion, gender, ethnicity, socioeconomic status, or the way they look. Excessive teasing meant to hurt someone’s feelings is also verbal bullying. For example, if there was a group of kids who made fun of another kid because he couldn’t run as fast as everyone else, it would be an example of verbal bullying.

Physical bullying includes any physical contact that would hurt or injure a person like hitting, kicking, punching, pinching, scratching, spitting etc. Taking something that belongs to someone else and destroying it would also be considered a type of physical bullying. For example, it would be physical bullying if someone was walking down the street and someone came up to them and shoved them to the ground.

Cyber bullying is done by sending messages, pictures, or information using electronic media, computers (email, instant messages, chat-rooms, social networking sites), or cell phones (text messaging, photo/video messaging & voicemail). An example of cyber bullying would be writing nasty comments or threats to a person on Facebook.

Written bullying includes bullying behavior that is only displayed through written materials – notes, letters, blogs, etc.

Indirect bullying includes spreading rumors or stories about someone, telling others about something that was told to you in private. An example would be if you started a rumor that a boy in your class likes playing with dolls, and if the reason that you made up the story was because you thought it was funny.

Intimidation is when a bully threatens someone else and frightens that person enough to make him or her do what the bully wants.

Emotional bullying not only focuses on the victim, but many times, the victim’s family and home are targeted also. Emotional bullying happens when there is harm to someone’s self-esteem or feeling of safety. Emotional bullying is common among girls, although some boys sometimes use it. This is also the most difficult type of bullying to demonstrate or protect against. Emotional bullying can include social alienation – excluding someone from a group on purpose.