Facts & Statistics on Bullying
Bullying has become more of a problem in children and teens with the popularity of social media and anonymous communication through online apps and websites. Bullying is when a person is the victim of aggressive, mean-spirited behavior from another person or group of people. This kind of behavior usually occurs in school or is school-related, and the behavior is constantly repeated and goes on for a long period of time.
Children and teenagers who bully use their unequal power against kids or teens who are younger or unable to fight back in any meaningful way. This imbalance of power is key, because bullies look for victims who cannot defend themselves. While sometimes the bullying is physical, increasingly bullying behavior is done electronically online, through apps, Facebook, other social media, or websites. This form of bullying is referred to as “electronically bullied.” The point of bullying is to exert control and cultivate fear in the victim. In short, a bully seeks to hurt their victim through physical, emotional or psychological means — or through a combination of all three.
Bullying is a serious issue of concern. According to Gentry & Pickel (2014), “victims are more likely than other students to experience physical health issues, anxiety, depression, and suicidal ideation.” In addition, victims’ grades decline “and they might avoid going to school to escape victimization or drop out of school altogether.” It is so serious a problem, nearly all U.S. states have enacted laws to address it. It most often occurs within middle and high school, but has also been documented to occur among university and college students (Chapell et al., 2006) and in the workplace (Hemmings, 2014).
Types of Bullying
According to the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, there are three primary types of bullying: verbal, social (also called “relational”), and physical.
Physical bullying refers to any bodily assault on the victim, such as hitting, kicking, or pushing.
Verbal bullying involves statements made directly to the victim by the perpetrator, for example, name calling, threats, abusive language, humiliation, and mockery.
In contrast to these direct types, social or relational bullying is indirect, consisting of attempts to damage the victim’s relationships with others by manipulating others’ feelings or actions toward the victim. For instance, the perpetrator might spread rumors or gossip about the victim, deliberately ignore him or her, or enlist others to isolate the victim socially.
Although relational bullying is common (Wang, Iannotti, & Nansel, 2009) and associated with long-lasting emotional distress and depression in victims (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006), studies have consistently demonstrated that teachers and school personnel tend to rate this type as less serious than the others. Additionally, participants report being less likely to intervene when they see incidents of relational bullying, they express less empathy for the victims, and they might not even define this type as “bullying” (Bauman & Del Rio, 2006; Jacobsen & Bauman, 2007; Maunder et al., 2010).