Bullying: The Facts


What is bullying?

It is defined as unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time and can have lifelong, lasting effects.

There are several types of bullying.

Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things:

  • Teasing
  • Name calling
  • Taunting

Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:

  • Exclusion (telling others not to be friends with you)
  • Spreading rumors
  • Public embarrassment/humiliation

Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions.

  • Hitting/kicking/pinching
  • Tripping/pushing
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures

Cyber-bullying is and bullying that takes place using electronic technology. This includes cell phones, computers and tablets; as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat and websites.

Examples of cyber-bullying are:

  • Mean emails/texts
  • Rumors spread via email
  • Rumors posted on social networking sites
  • Embarrassing pictures/videos/websites or fake profiles

Why cyber-bullying is different?

Kids who are cyber-bullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyber-bullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.

  • Cyber-bullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week
  • Cyber-bullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a wide audience. It can be difficult to impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.

What can you do to help?

Stop bullying on the spot! When adults respond quickly and consistently to bullying they send the message that it is not acceptable.


  • Intervene immediately
  • Separate those involved
  • Make sure everyone is safe
  • Meet any immediate medical or mental health needs
  • Stay calm, reassure the kids involved, including bystanders
  • *Model respectful behavior when you intervene


  • Ignore it.  Don’t think the kids can work it out without adult help
  • Try to immediately sort out the facts
  • Force other kids to say publicly what they saw
  • Question the children involved in front of other kids
  • Talk to the kids involved together, only separately
  • Make the kids apologize or patch up on the spot

To learn more, visit www.stopbullying.gov