The phenomenon of bullying has been present in society for decades. It can be prevalent in just about any social setting and is often seen in schools and workplaces. Over the years, the definition of the phenomenon has had to be broadened. This was to encompass newly identified types of bullying. The traditional idea of bullying mostly consisted of acts that were physical or verbal. However, as of today bullying is known to have a more complex nature. It can happen in different forms and a range of ways. Bullying is harmful: it is something that can have serious, even fatal, consequences. It is a widely accepted fact that bullying should never be encouraged and action should be taken to stop it. This article aims to bring awareness to the types of bullying that currently exist as well as how to stop it.
What Is Bullying?
Before going into its different types, let’s firstly consider what constitutes bullying. The definitions of bullying claim that it is misusing power through intentional and repeated aggressive behaviours to cause physical or psychological harm to others who are in a lower position of power. There is a range of behaviours that fall under bullying; physical and verbal actions are just of them. Victims of bullying are usually unable to defend themselves and stop the bullying they face. Bullying can be done by a sole person or group of people, either in person or online, and can be overt or covert.
The Effects It Causes
Many of us have experienced the sad reality of hearing tragic incidents that result from bullying. Bullying leads to a range of dire consequences. These cause great suffering in the lives of those undergoing it, to the point they sometimes feel their lives are unlivable. Bullying affects various aspects of a person’s life and many can’t cope with this. They suffer trying to do so and it adversely impacts their health. ⋆ These are outcomes of bullying:
- Low self-esteem
- Decreased performance
- Poor physical health
- Mental illness
Types of Bullying
Bullying takes many forms. Some types of bullying can be harder to notice than others. Being aware of what they are can help in navigating this problem. Additionally, knowing this helps when taking action to stop bullying.
The most known form all the types of bullying and one of the most apparent. It comprises of physical actions of violence on the victim or even their property. Many times this is done to establish dominance and also put the victim in a more helpless and weakened position. Schools are a common ground for physical bullying where bullies work alone or in groups to victimise other students.
This bullying can include:
- Pushing or shoving
Victims can suffer serious injuries as a result. In some cases, it can even result in death. The physical torment endured can be traumatic and also negatively impact their mental health. Most of the time victims of bullying fear speaking out and asking for help because they could face harsher consequences at the hands of their bullies if they found out. However, this is one type of bullying that’s easier to identify due to telltale signs, such as visible injuries, or attire to hide such injuries.
With this type of bullying, attacks come in the form of harsh words directed at the victim for example to hurt them or make them feel ashamed. Verbal bullying can certainly cause damage to people’s lives. This can be regardless of their age. For instance, it can affect their self-esteem and self-confidence, influence how others see them, and leave lasting psychological impacts on them. Unfortunately, unlike physical bullying, it can be harder to notice verbal bullying and stop it. This is because it can occur privately as well.
Verbal bullying, for example, can consist of:
- Harsh criticism
- Inappropriate sexual comments
One of the newer types of bullying occurring due to the rise in people’s online presence and usage of technology. Cyberbullying takes place on social media sites, messaging platforms, gaming platforms, or devices such as mobile phones and computers. Certain technological features allow this type of bullying to be a very powerful one. For example, the ability to upload any content onto the internet and share it with a large audience. Many people can view this content regardless of their location. Besides this, people can also comment on what’s being posted. Therefore, they have the chance to make negative or misinformed comments. This is especially true for ‘internet trolls’ whose intention is to provoke and affect people and cause them emotionally react.
These are some examples of cyberbulling:
- Sending mean messages or threats
- Posting hate comments
- Spreading false information
- Sharing content to embarrass or shame
- Prank calling
- Hacking into accounts and impersonating the owner
In comparison to other types of bullying, this one is harder to notice. This is because it’s more subtle and covert. Also known as relational aggression, it moves away from the typical idea people have of what bullying looks like. Essentially it attempts to damage a person’s reputation and/or their relationships with others. It occurs often during adolescence, especially in school settings. Studies have shown that this is more common amongst girls than boys. However, these behaviours cannot be restricted to one sex.
Signs of social bullying are:
- Forming social groups and excluding some people from it
- Establishing rules for those who want to join
- Making fun of others or criticising them
- Telling people not to be friends with someone
- Trying to stop people from being friends
- Laughing at someone
- Spreading gossip or rumours
- Eye rolling at someone
It is when bullying includes sexual elements. This can be in the form of words or actions. Anyone can be the target of it regardless of their age, gender and sexual orientation. It can be physical or non-physical and take place in person or online.
Examples of this type of bullying are:
- Unwanted touching
- Sexual or sexist remarks or jokes
- Taking sexual media of others
This bullying happens as a result of prejudice against someone’s actual or perceived identity. This can be based on a range of characteristics. Some of them include race, sexual orientation, gender identity, religion, age, body image, disability. As a result, it can cause various acts of aggression directed at individuals belonging to these groups. For example, hate speech and hate crimes.
How to Stop Bullying
Now that some of the most common types of bullying have been discussed, we look can look into ways to stop them. Taking action against bullying is often a group effort that involves many people for example adults (teachers/co-workers/ parents/counselors) and children as well. However, knowing the measures to take is a helpful place to start. The following tactics can be done by people from any group.
Set Clear Definitions of Bullying
The goal of this is to be aware of what to look for. There are different types of bullying behaviour, as mentioned above. Sometimes people may experience or see these behaviors displayed but not know it constitutes bullying. Being aware that it is, as well as that it’s something to be taken seriously and reported, helps in addressing the problem. More people can take action against bullying because with the awareness they recognise it for what it is. When bullying doesn’t go unnoticed and unreported, those who bully can take a step back by themselves or be held responsible and/or looked into in the future by those in charge.
A lot of the time people fail to see the signs of bullying that can be right in front of them. Being observant can help others identify if bullying is happening in their environment.
Some actions may be overt meaning it’s very apparent and visible. This could be physical or loud verbal acts of aggression for instance. These are easier to notice and report. However as some types are harder to notice, it’s best to know the signs to be on the lookout for. Examples of this include laughing or making fun of people, excluding or ignoring them, eye-rolling, rude language plus tone, spying, and stalking. Furthermore, be alert of any persons who have or seem to have prejudiced feelings and beliefs towards certain groups. This is because it can reflect in their behaviours too. They are more likely to engage in some form of bullying behaviour.
Besides being on the lookout for bullies and bullying behaviours, being observant of possible victims is also important. For various contextual reasons, not everyone who is bullied will speak up about it. But this does not mean that they want to or can endure it. Many times these people want others’ help but they’re unable to ask for it. So being able to identify them could be helpful for both the victim and the attempt to address bullying.
Some of the Signs Are:
- Unexplainable injuries or sudden changes in attire (to cover them)
- Having missing or damaged belongings
- Being alone in social settings (however this could either be because they enjoy being by themselves or because of social bullying)
- Not wanting to go to certain places or be with certain people (as it’s linked to their bullying)
- Changes in mood
- Aggression or anger
- Sudden fear
- Decreases in performance
- Different sleep and eating patterns
2. Take Action
Don’t Let Bullying Go Unnoticed
An important factor that allows bullying to persist is not taking serious, effective action against it. A lot of bullies continue because they aren’t caught and don’t have to face the consequences of their actions. Their behaviour tends to become reinforced and additionally, they feel like they can do anything. However, having to deal with the repercussions of their bullying can produce different outcomes. It’s important to remember that being silent will only continue the bullying. Therefore, whenever there’s an incident of bullying make noise about it. Report it to those in charge or, if it’s possible, stand up to the bully. Don’t let the incident slip away.
Implement a Good Reporting System
This suggestion falls more under the purview of those who are in charge. Make sure that people who want to report a bullying offence know where they have to go and what they have to do. Also aim to have a system that is fast, easy to understand, and do as well as confidential. Otherwise, a reporting system that’s a hassle to go through will inconvenience some and make them reluctant to spend time reporting an incident and avoid doing so.
It is essential that every bullying report is taken seriously and looked into. Not doing so will only have negative impacts. For one, by not stepping in the bullying is left to continue. The next reason is that often taking the initiative to make a report takes courage. So if victims or bystanders do this and the case is dismissed or overlooked, it can affect them mentally and emotionally. They can feel hopeless, depressed, or angry and become discouraged to try again.
Ensure There Are Anti-bullying Rules and Policies
This is crucial in the fight against bullying. These will explain how to treat people in that setting (for example school or the workplace) and what happens if someone goes against it. Additionally, focus on integrating these rules into the culture of the place. Also, make sure that fellow staff is aware of them.
3. Foster Healthier Environments
Why is it important to do this when trying to stop bullying? It’s because a lot of bullying happens as a result of the differences between people. It can make certain groups feel greater than others and make the latter group the subject of discrimination and bullying. Celebrating people’s differences can help bridge the gap that fuels ‘us vs. them’ mindsets. It paves the way for acceptance and understanding of various identities. Furthermore, it could make minority groups feel more included and valid.
Although it may seem one of the most basic strategies, kindness is very powerful. It’s very impactful and can make a great difference in people’s lives. . It creates a friendlier and more accepting environment. This can impact people positively and also help how they interact with the setting they’re in. Furthermore, even multiple sources state that kindness prevents bullying.
Look into the Side of the Bully
There isn’t a definite reason why people bully. However, many times one of the main reasons is due to what the lives of bullies are like. Therefore, another way to address the problem of bullying is by looking into just why bullies act how they do. This is an example of dealing with the root cause of a problem. It can be effective.
Sometimes bullying happens to help bullies get what they want. A lot of evidence shows that this happens because it’s what they’re socialised into. Growing up they see that people often have their way when they bully. Because they’re exposed to this they model what they see. When they want something they think bullying is the best way to get it.
Furthermore, some bullies may continue with what they do just because it becomes reinforced in them. It happens when they feel rewarded by the outcomes of their actions. This makes them want to keep at it to feel that way again.
As mentioned above, what a bully faces on a personal level contributes to their bullying behaviours. Some bullies are insecure in reality and bullying helps them ease these feelings. Other bullies feel powerless in certain instances (for example at home) so they bully to feel powerful and in control. The home lives and family backgrounds of a lot of bullies also influence them. For example, if they have problems at home it can cause them to act out in ways such as this. If someone is carrying out discriminatory bullying chances are that this prejudice could’ve come from their families.
In conclusion, looking into a bully’s background is a helpful strategy when taking action to stop bullying. It can provide useful context to their actions and also present ways to intervene and help them.