5 Forms of Bullying at School

Bullying is a purposeful act and is often aimed at those who are weaker, friendless and who differ from the norm in some way. The bullies are usually aware of what they are doing and know that their actions will marginalize their victim. Motivation for bullying varies but the outcome is similar. In their book, No it’s not OK, (Penguin Books, 2007), Tania Roxborogh and Kim Stephenson discuss five forms of bullying.

Physical Acts of Bullying

Most people are familiar with physical acts of bullying. They can include physical touching as well as hurting the victims or simply manhandling their belongings. Parents should look out for unexplained bruises and damage to property as these may be an indication of problems. Here are some common physical acts of bullying:

  • Kicking
  • Hitting
  • Punching
  • Pushing
  • Tripping
  • Threatening gestures
  • Breaking belongings
  • Cornering the victim

Emotional Bullying

In some ways emotional abuse is harder to prove unless the victim has credible witnesses. It can be extremely painful to a person and may result in social withdrawal and feelings of inferiority. Emotional bullying takes on the following forms:

  • Name calling
  • Verbal abuse
  • Stalking a person
  • Spreading rumors
  • Blackmail and extortion
  • Theft of belongings
  • Hiding belongings
  • Exclusion

Sexual Bullying

While this is more often seen in teenagers and in the workplace, it can affect any age. Younger children in particular can be overwhelmed by this form of bullying. Sexual bullying includes these actions:

  • Unwanted touching
  • Making obscene gestures to the person
  • Telling lewd jokes or stories about the person
  • Circulating inappropriate photos that may have been taken without permission

Cyber Bullying

Cyber bullying is often connected to sexual bullying and incorporates the use of mobile phones, emails and the use of social networking sites such as Facebook and Bebo. The bully may try and snap pictures up a girl’s skirt for example and circulate these. Try and monitor a child’s cyber communication and look out for these things:

  • Large volumes of abusive texts or emails
  • Hate messages on Facebook, Bebo or other similar sites
  • Inappropriate circulation of photographs

Racial Bullying

Racial bullying extends to people of different cultures who are excluded and victimized because they look or sound different. This type of bullying can be very harmful to children and may lead to great anger, frustration and fear. Here are some ways that racial bullying plays out:

  • Exclusion because of skin colour, language or appearance
  • Mocking cultures
  • Stereotypical classifications
  • Discrimination because of religious differences

Bullying is deliberate and harmful and unfortunately the perpetrator often gets away with it for extended periods of time. Once the bullying has been recognized – by the victim, their parents, or teacher, it needs to be addressed and dealt with. It is not the type of thing that will go away without action.