Bullying can occur in many forms and situations. Types of bullying include physical bullying, verbal bullying, social bullying, psychological bullying, cyber bullying (via social media), and text bullying (via text messages). All types of bullying have a negative mental health impact on victims, witnesses, and perpetrators.

What is Bullying?

A commonly used bullying definition is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. In other words, kids use physical strength, popularity, or access to information to control or harm others. While bullying is most frequently talked about in terms of children and teens, it can also occur among adults in a workplace. Bullying actions typically happen more than once, and may include making threats, spreading rumors, name-calling, embarrassing someone in public, inappropriate sexual comments, and excluding others. Bullying is common: About 20 percent of students ages 12–18 experience bullying. Most bullying occurs on school grounds, but it can also happen on the school bus, at neighborhood playgrounds, or online.

Kids who are bullied are more likely to have health complaints, depression and anxiety, feelings of loneliness and sadness, and decreased academic achievement. While bullying is often linked to suicide in the media, most children and teens who are bullied do not have suicidal thoughts unless other factors, such as depression or trauma, are present. Furthermore, those who bully others are at greater risk for substance abuse, dropping out of school, early sexual activity, and criminal convictions. In addition, kids who witness others being bullied also have increased mental health problems and substance use.

Parents and teachers can help prevent bullying by stopping any bullying action they witness and finding out the details of what happened. The next step is to support everyone involved to make sure the bullying doesn’t continue and its effects are addressed.

Sources: BullyingStatistics.org, StopBullying.gov, National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics

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