“In our country, bullying usually is seen in a narrow way as physical aggression or extortion (for lunch money, for example).”
– Garbarino & deLara (2002, p. 206)
When you ask someone to imagine a bully in their mind, they’ll tend to revert to mental images of a bigger kid menacing younger ones in the school yard, stealing their belongings or beating them up for lunch money. Or they might envision the kid from a broken home who goes around indiscriminately hurting everyone else so they can feel a sense of power and control while easing their own pain. These rather limited views have been ingrained through popular media, yet they represent only a small portion of the bullying that takes place in our schools and throughout society at large.
It’s hard to recognize and address bullying behavior unless you’re familiar with the many different forms it can take. So to help you better understand the various types of bullying, this chapter will explore the different techniques used by bullies.
Different types of bullying
We’ve summarized the most common types of bullying below. Each of these bullying types is followed by a link to it’s own section that will discuss that form of bullying in greater detail. (Or just use the chapter menu on the strip to the left.)
Types of bullying #1: Physical harassment / assault
Physical bullying can involve things like pushing someone into a locker or shoving them in the hallways, and it can also involve simple forms of harassment, such as throwing spit wads or knocking down their books. In its extreme form, physical bullying can involve serious attacks that lead to significant bodily harm. Physical bullying also causes significant psychological harm.
Types of bullying #2: Verbal bullying
Verbal bullying involves name-calling, taunting, put-downs, and other types of verbal aggression meant to inflict emotional damage on the victim. Though verbal abuse tends to be minimized by our society, the injury it causes can be just as destructive as other types of child maltreatment.
Types of bullying #3: Emotional bullying
Similar to verbal bullying, emotional bullying can involve subtle techniques that don’t involve direct attacks but can be equally as hurtful.
Types of bullying #4: Bullying through intimidation
Bullies may use intimidation to exert power and control over their victim. Bullying by intimidation can involve everything from posturing in the hallways to placing threatening phone calls or insinuating violence against the victim, perhaps by showing them a weapon or engaging in a discussion about all the various ways the bully plans to do them harm.
Types of bullying #5: Exclusion bullying
An often overlooked form of bullying, exclusion can be either physical or social. Physical exclusion involves restricting a child from certain areas of the school or harassing someone for sitting in the “wrong” area of the lunch room. Social exclusion involves a bully working to alienate a child from his or her friends and/or peers through various tactics.
Types of bullying #6: Bullying through gossip & rumors
Another type of bullying that often gets little attention, bullying through gossip and rumors is also one of the most destructive types of bullying. It hijacks a child’s identity while recruiting others who may not even know the victim to nonetheless spread lies about them.
Types of bullying #7: Stalking and/or harassment
Occasionally a bully may revert to tactics that can only be described as stalking, such as following a victim around the school or taunting them with personal details about their daily life.
Types of bullying #8: Sexual bullying
When kids are bullied, sexuality tends to be the preferred weapon of choice, since it’s an area where every youth is profoundly insecure. Sexual bullying can occur through gossip and rumors, verbal attacks, or sexual harassment & assaults. Sexual bullying is discussed in the next chapter and will explore the different reasons that sexual bullying is so prevalent throughout our schools, and discuss how parents inadvertently make children highly vulnerable to its effects.
Types of bullying #9: Cyber bullying
We discuss the different types of cyber bullying separately in our cyber bullying chapter.