What Bullying Is

Bullying is a control/domination behavior of a person or group (the bully) towards another person or group (the target) which seeks to increase the power, importance, and self-image of the bully. Its purpose is to decrease the power, importance, and self-image of the target. It is destructive to both the bully and the target, reinforcing negative, antisocial behavior in the bully and inflicting pain, loss of self-esteem, and possibly physical and emotional damage to the target.

This intentional, aggressive behavior, involving an imbalance of power or strength, can be verbal or physical, mentally or socially tormenting, fear-instilling, and socially alienating. Bullying exists in all levels of society and in every country and culture. Bullying can involve all ages, ethnic/social groups and both sexes.

Forms of Bullying
In some instances, the bully is an adult targeting a young person. Bullying is repeated over time and can take many forms, such as:
  • Name calling, taunting, threatening words or acts
  • Using racial or ethnic slurs or gender-based put downs
  • Humiliation
  • Spreading rumors
  • Intimidation through gestures or social exclusion
  • Writing anonymous notes, making intimidating phone calls, sending insulting messages through any type of electronic communications device such as computer, cell phone, etc. (cyberbullying)
  • Cornering, blocking, standing too close or other forms of physical intimidation
  • Taking possessions, extorting
  • Inflicting bodily harm (which constitutes assault and should be reported immediately)
Where Bullying Occurs
You will find bullying in shared public areas like parks or the beach, in schools, in social organizations, in organized sports, on the internet, and even in houses of worship. It is a part of social interaction and can be found anywhere and in any situation where people meet.

One thing is for certain: Adults must take responsibility for setting and enforcing norms that do not tolerate bullying behavior.