About Bullying

"They punch me in the jaw, strangle me, they knock things out of my hand, take things from me, sit on me. They push me so far that I want to become the bully."


Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere. It is not a phase children have to go through, it is not "just messing around" and it is not something we just grow out of. Bullying can cause serious and lasting harm.

Although definitions of bullying vary, most agree that bullying involves:

  • IMBALANCE OF POWER: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves.
  • INTENT TO CAUSE HARM: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm.
  • REPETITION: incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group.

"It feels like everybody just turned against me. It was like nine of them, nine or ten of them, calling me stupid and dumb, and they started throwing things at me, and one of the guys said something to me, and he threatened me, telling me what he was going to do to me, and he’ll fight girls, and everybody was laughing."

Types of Bullying

Bullying can take many forms. Examples include:

  • VERBAL: name-calling, teasing.
  • SOCIAL: spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships.
  • PHYSICAL: hitting, punching, shoving.
  • CYBERBULLYING: using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others.

"You can always count on something happening when you're walking down the hall at school, in the classroom, after school when I'm walking home, when I’m walking through the parking lot in the morning to school. I wasn't welcomed at church. I’m not welcomed in a lot of people's homes."

Bullying often does not happen in an isolated context with a single tormentor and victim. There may be multiple bullies or multiple victims, and there are almost always peers, adults, and other community members who know about the bullying taking place.

Often, the victims of bullying are socially vulnerable because they have some characteristic that makes them different from the majority. A person might be singled out because of his or her appearance, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, or religious affiliation. Young people with "special needs" such as autism and learning disabilities are also targeted more frequently. Other times, there are no apparent characteristics that cause the target of bullying to be singled out by the tormentor. Regardless, the person being bullied does not know how or does not have the power to make it stop.

– content adapted from www.stopbullying.gov and Facing History’s BULLY viewing facilitation guide