What is bullying and cyberbullying?

What is Bullying?

Many young people see it every day. Bullies hurt and scare another person on purpose. Most often, bullies repeatedly say or act meanly toward another person or a group of people. In some cases, one incident of bullying can leave a tragic mark on someone's life forever. In addition, there is an imbalance of power and strength between the bully and the target. Bullying can take on many forms. Here are some examples of bullying behavior.

Physical Bullying

  • Punching, shoving, tripping, stalking or throwing objects at a person
  • Touching or making sexual comments
  • Stealing or destroying another person's property
  • Forcing another person to do something he or she doesn't want to do

Verbal or Written Bullying

  • Name calling, such as using sexist, racist or homophobic slurs
  • Insulting physical and mental abilities, health issues or religious beliefs
  • Making frightening telephone calls and writing harmful notes

Social Bullying

  • Spreading rumors, gossiping and sharing personal information publicly
  • Intentionally excluding or dropping a person from a group
  • Getting people to gang up or band together to attack others   


    Using technology to repeatedly bully and intentionally hurt a person is another form of bullying. Cyberbullies harass, tease, intimidate, threaten or terrorize another person by using digital technologies. Here is how bullies may use technology to bully.

    What is Cyberbullying?

    • Using online posting on Web sites, Blogs, altering pictures and e-mails to hurt, frighten and humiliate the target
    • Disguising one's identity in order to use someone else's username to spread rumors, lies or death threats
    • Pretending to be the target and in his/her name sending messages about being gay or lesbian and having a crush on someone of the same sex.
    • Sending insulting remarks, racial slurs, sexual comments, threats of harm, gossip and rumor spreading
    • Using conference calling to convince target to say nasty comments about another person who is listening in on the phone call without the target knowing
    • Using Instant Messaging to bombard the teen target instantly
    • Flaming – Angry fights occurring usually in E-mail, chat, IM or chatrooms, where angry, offensive language is used
      • Denigration – Used to make fun of someone via E-mail, chatrooms, bashboards, social networking sites or Web site created for the purpose to make mean comments about someone
      • Exclusion – Intentionally not including someone on an IM buddy list, social networking site or online community
      • Outing – Sharing secrets and private information, videos or photos about someone online
      • Trickery – Tricking someone to reveal private information and then spreading it online
      • Impersonation – Pretending to be someone else other that who you really are in order to make them look bad, get them in trouble or danger
      • Harassment – Repeatedly sending malicious emails to someone online
      • Cyberstalking – Ongoing harassment and denigration, including threats of physical harm


      • Sending, receiving, or forwarding sexually explicit photographs or messages via an electronic device falls under the category of sexting. The real trouble begins when minors get involved.
      • If their peers are sexting, there is more pressure on them to conform.
      • Many are experimenting with their sexuality and wanting to feel sexy or dealing with pressures from a boyfriend, friend, or stranger.
      • Consequences include but are not limited to jail time, expulsion from school, organizations, sports teams, etc. If charged, the law will put you on the same level as those who have molested, raped and explicitly photographed children.


        What is Relational Aggression?

        Researchers define relational aggression as behavior that intentionally harms another person's self-esteem, friendships or social status. It occurs more often between girls than boys. Often adults overlook the seriousness of the behavior. How can teachers, counselors and other adults identify this behavior and help a target of bullying? Here are some ways to detect the behavior.

        • Many bullies are popular, pretty, smart or athletic whom teachers and others often admire.
        • Girl bullies spread rumors, gossip and teach each other about their looks and intelligence and build alliances to divulge secrets and backstab
        • It can cause drop in grades, depression, isolation, aggression and irritability
        • Effects of bullying may stay with a young person forever and shape their future relationships with others.
        • Gossiping, group exclusion and rumor spreading are typical signs of this behavior
        • It's harder to detect since it's not physical
        • Many teachers and parents are often at a loss as to how to resolve the situation 

          Have you witnessed bullying?

          If you see a friend or someone you know being bullied, you can put a stop to it. It might be easier to stand by and act like a bystander, rather than stand up for them. However, it builds character, integrity and self-esteem to help someone who is being kicked-around.

          Sure, it is scary to take a stand against your friends and be seen as a snitch. However, it is not tattling, you are helping a situation, which can escalate into serious trouble. Here is what you can do to help when you see someone being bullied by others.

          • Talk to a teacher, school counselor, school psychologist, school nurse or any adult you feel comfortable with
          • Share what you saw, who you saw doing it, where and when it happened
          • Report if even if you're not sure it was bullying
          • Spend time with someone who is being bullied
          • Stand up to the bully and ask them to cut it out
          • Write a note of what you saw and leave it on your teacher's desk or hand it to an adult

          Why do some people bully?

          There are many reasons why people bully. Here are a few examples of why teens want to hurt each other.

          • Anger, revenge or frustration
          • They can get away with it
          • Entertainment or boredom
          • Some teens get a kick out of hurting others
          • Revenge of the nerd
          • Social Standing
          • Because they were bullied
          • Righting wrongs
          • Role Playing

            Are you a bully?

            Sometimes it is not easy to understand why young people push each other around. It's not easy to change and you may like who you are, and think there is nothing wrong with how you are acting. You might say I see my father, mother, sister or brother pushing people around all the time. Hurting people just because someone in your family does it or because you think it makes you look cool in front of your friends, is only fooling yourself. Before you bully someone around, think about

            • What it feel like to have someone push, shove, threaten, call you names, spread rumors about you or exclude you from the group
            • Imagine how a person feels when you hurt them
            • Challenge yourself to stop being a bully
            • Find a way to take your anger, jealousy or pain and do something positive
            • Talk to an adult
            • How you will feel if he or she commits suicide
            • Get help or speak to a counselor