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What are the four types of Bullying?

Bullying is a common and frequent problem in schools and amongst children of all ages. Typically, bullying has referred to physical aggression and verbal taunting from one child to another. The ‘victim’ is often pushed around and physically hurt along with being teased and taunted by a seemingly stronger child. However, bullying has evolved to include a variety of other ways in which children can hurt one another. The four main types of bullying include physical bullying, verbal bullying, emotional/social bullying and cyber bullying.

Physical bullying is the type that most people are familiar with and entails one child acting in a physically aggressive manner towards another. Bullying always includes a thread of power and will leave the ‘victim’ feeling small, defenceless and humiliated. Physical bullying can result in real injuries if left unchecked and includes pinching, hitting, kicking, punching and even using weapons to inflict harm upon the ‘victim’. Although boys are more frequently involved in physical bullying, girls can also be victims or bullies.

While verbal bullying does not entail physical harm, the bullying itself can be just as damaging, if not more. Verbal bullying amounts to verbal abuse and includes teasing, name calling, swearing and verbal threats. Again, the victim is left to feel small and humiliated and often embarrassed by the offensive language and names being called. When verbal bullying happens in public it can also be extremely embarrassing and damaging to the ‘victim’s’ self-esteem and confidence.

Emotional and social bullying, although slightly different, are strongly entwined and can result in serious self-esteem and confidence damage. Emotional bullying includes manipulative behaviour and other behaviour towards the ‘victim’ that can leave the ‘victim’ feeling ashamed of themselves, guilty, depressed and anxious. Social bullying entails the intentional manipulation of the ‘victim’s’ life in such a way that they are left socially isolated and alone. One of the most common ways of doing this is by spreading rumours about the ‘victim’ and convincing others not to be friends with him/her. Becoming socially isolated is extremely damaging to self-esteem and confidence and can also result in feelings of depression and anxiety.

Cyber bullying is a relatively new form of bullying and has only really started with the advent of the internet and social media sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Myspace and others. It also includes the use of cell phones and messenger systems such as BBM and Whatsapp. In this sense, these platforms are used to post inappropriate pictures of the ‘victim’ on public spaces such as Facebook or to send them using group messages in Whatsapp. These platforms can also be used to spread rumours and generally verbally abuse the victim.

No matter what method of bullying is used, the damage caused is serious. People on the receiving end of bullying often struggle with depression and anxiety and may even have thoughts of suicide. They feel humiliated, alone and unsupported. All ‘victims’ of bullying experience lowered self-esteem and confidence, which often plays a role in their increased anxiety and depression. If you are being bullied or know someone who is, seek help from adults in positions of authority (your parent, teacher, principal, coach, doctor, religious leader). There are many services available including telephone help lines for children and teens. Speak to a trained psychologist to help overcome the negative effects of bullying so you can regain control and happiness in your life.