Written by Nicola Martin
The repetitive, intentional hurting of one person or group by another person or group, where the relationship involves an imbalance of power. Bullying can be physical, verbal, or psychological. It can happen face-to-face or online. Anti-bullying Alliance.
Types of Bullying
There are 6 types of bullying:
- Physical Bullying – The most obvious form of bullying, where people use physical actions to gain power and control over their targets. Examples include kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, shoving, and other physical attacks.
- Verbal Bullying – Perpetrators of verbal bullying use words, statements, and name-calling to gain power and control. Targets are chosen based on how they look, act, and behave. It’s common for people with special needs to be targeted. This type of bullying is hard to identify because attacks mostly happen when other people are not around. As a result, it ends up being one person’s word against another.
- Relational Aggression – It is a sneaky and insidious type of bullying that often goes unnoticed. Sometimes referred to as emotional or social bullying. Relational aggression is a type of social manipulation where the perpetrators try to hurt their peers or sabotage their social standing. Relational bullies often ostracise others from a group, spread rumours, manipulate situations, and break confidence. Relationally aggressive bullies increase their own social standing by controlling or bullying another person. Someone on the receiving end of relational aggression is likely to be teased, insulted, ignored, excluded, and intimidated.
- Cyberbullying – Cyberbullying is when a person uses technology and the internet to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person. Examples of cyberbullying include posting hurtful images, making online threats, and sending hurtful emails or texts. A popular form of bullying as bullies can harass their targets with much less risk of being caught. Bullies can say things they do not have the courage to say face to face. Technology gives them the feeling of being protected as they feel anonymous, insulated, and detached from the situation. To the targets, it feels invasive and never-ending. They can be targeted at any time and anywhere, often in the safety of their own homes. As a result, the consequences of cyberbullying are significant.
- Sexual Bullying – Consists of repeated, harmful, and humiliating actions which target a person sexually. For example, sexual name-calling, crude comments, vulgar gestures, uninvited touching, sexual propositioning, and pornographic material. Sexting also can lead to sexual bullying.
- Prejudicial Bullying – It is based on prejudices people have towards people of different races, religions, sexual orientation, or neurodivergence. This can encompass all other types of bullying. When prejudicial bullying occurs, people are targeting others who are different from them and singling them out. This type of bullying can be severe and lead to hate crimes.
- Low self-esteem.
- Self-harming behaviours.
- Alcohol and Drug use and dependence.
- Involvement in violence.
- Involvement in crime.
- Bullying can lead to mental health problems.
The Stress Response – Stress from bullying triggers a series of physical changes within the body, known as the fight-flight response, which is designed to protect you from danger.
When the brain recognises a stressful situation, it stimulates the release of a hormone that encourages your kidneys to release epinephrine. This in turn triggers the release of the stress hormone cortisol. This raises your blood pressure and pulse, increases your blood sugar levels, and prepares your muscles for action. While this is going on the body suppresses less essential processes such as immune and digestive function.
Although these changes are effective at protecting us from danger, when triggered daily due to bullying it is not good for the body and explains the physical effects experienced by victims.
Other Physical Effects:
- Tension headaches.
- Muscle pain.
- Digestive upset.
- Weight changes.
- Altered immune function.
- Heart health.
Signs of Bullying
- Depression, loneliness, or anxiety.
- Low self-esteem.
- Headaches, stomach-aches, tiredness.
- Poor eating habits.
- Missing school, disliking school, or having poor school performance.
- Self-destructive behaviours, i.e., running away from home, or inflicting harm on oneself.
- Thinking about suicide or attempting to commit suicide.
- Unexplained injuries.
- Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewellery.
- Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares.
- Sudden loss of friends, or avoidance of social situations.
Steps to Stop Bullying
- Start early. Parent/child talks are essential. Teach kids to respect others before they start school.
- Small acts of teasing should be stopped in their tracks. Don’t be afraid to correct this kind of behaviour due to a child’s young age, this is exactly when to stop it.
- Stop bullying when you see it. Adults who remain silent when bullying occurs are encouraging it and making it worse.
- Recognise the signs of depression, make sure to reach out and get them help when you see the signs.
- Don’t brush bullying off as a rite of passage and tell people to just deal with it.
- Educate children about what bullying is and make it clear that it is not a nice thing to do to someone.
- Help them interact with people with whom they have common interests.
- Encourage them to find hobbies to keep them occupied.
Bullying is an ongoing problem which affects many people. It can happen at home, at school, at work, and many other places. The psychological and physical effects of bullying are lifelong for the victims and at times can be life-changing. We should all try our best to educate people on how to interact with each other. This will help stamp out bullying, and in turn, improve people’s physical and mental health. We don’t have to like everyone, but we do need to be inclusive of everyone.