The article is developed in partnership with BetterHelp.
Bullying is something a lot of people go through during adolescence, but it isn’t reserved for childhood. Adults can be both bullies and bullied as well, although theirs tends to be more verbal or psychological. As movies depict and real-life events show, bullying can affect a person deeply. This is why it’s so important to know what bullying looks like so that it can be put to a stop once it’s spotted. Understanding more about what creates a bully and how they can be helped can also be beneficial for everyone involved in the situation. If you’d like to learn more about bullying, and how it can affect you and others, click here.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is a type of aggressive behavior intended to harm another individual, whether physically, verbally, psychologically, or emotionally. A bully might use force, coercion, threats, physical violence, teasing, or intimidation to get what they want. They might also do these things simply to hurt another person. Usually, the behavior is repetitive and long-term.
Someone being bullied may not know where to turn, either out of fear of retaliation or shame. However, involving other people in a bullying situation is vital. Without asking for help, the behavior can escalate and begin to seriously affect a person’s life.
Types of Bullying
It isn’t always obvious on the surface that someone is dealing with a bully. Though it might leave bruises if it’s physical, there are many other types of bullying that are hard to spot. Bullying can be verbal, physical, or psychological. With the advances in technology, it can also be online now. This is known as cyber-bullying.
Verbal bullying could include:
● Hurling insults
● Making inappropriate comments
● Homophobic or racist remarks
● Being intimidating
● Mocking another person
● Making unwanted sexual comments
● Threatening someone
Physical bullying could include:
● Any type of sexually abusive behavior
Psychological bullying could include:
● Spreading rumors
● Lying about someone
● Purposefully excluding someone
● Convincing others not to befriend someone
● Embarrassing someone in public
● Damaging someone’s reputation
● Harming someone’s relationships
Online or cyber-bullying could look like:
● Making threats online
● Posting embarrassing pictures of someone without their permission
● Sending harmful texts or threats
● Spreading rumors online
● Anonymous threats, texts, or emails
The Psychology of a Bully
Bullies are unique individuals. Although most people have a hard time understanding them, it can be helpful to consider what factors might make them the way they are. This understanding can be the key to knowing how to deal with the situation at hand.
Typically, kids become bullies because they aren’t receiving attention from their caregiver(s) at home. So, they start to antagonize others to get the attention they’re craving so badly. Kids who have neglectful or divorced parents may be more likely to become bullies. This is because these children might not receive enough attention at home. If a child is abused at home, they may also be more likely to be a bully at school.
If you or someone you know is experiencing abuse in any form, reach out right away to the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1.800.799.SAFE (7233) for immediate support, advice, and assistance.
In many cases, someone learns bullying behavior from watching someone else do it. This could be another kid, an adult, or an older sibling. Bullied kids might be more likely to bully in the future to feel powerful. However, they don’t always need a reason for their actions. They might do it because it makes them feel cool or because they feel jealous of the person they’re bullying. They might also think that being a bully will keep them from getting attacked by someone else. Just because someone is aggressive or domineering by nature does not make them a bully.
Effects of Bullying
Anyone who is bullied can experience a variety of problems as a result. These issues may be physical, mental, psychological, academic, workplace-related, or social. Mental health issues like depression and anxiety could develop. A kid’s grades at school might drop, and they might start avoiding school altogether. In very rare cases, a bullied child might retaliate through very violent, extreme measures.
Kids who bully other kids also experience the effects of their behaviors. They are more likely to use harmful substances like drugs and alcohol, get into fights, and drop out of school. They may get in trouble with the law very early in life as well. Once child bullies become adults, they may be abusive in their relationships and continue to overuse drugs and alcohol, among other problems.
The best way to prevent bullying is to talk about it. Kids should understand from a young age what a bully is and know that bullying is unacceptable behavior. Parents can model acceptable behavior for their children so that they know how to treat others with respect. They can also keep the lines of communication open with their children so they feel comfortable coming to them if they’re being bullied.
What To Do If You’re Being Bullied
Unfortunately, it’s very common to experience bullying. It’s easy to feel alone, but there are steps people can take if they’re dealing with a bully. Some of these include:
● Tell a trusted friend, parent, or teacher
● Stay calm
● Avoid being alone with the bully
● Tell the bully to stop
● If there’s any threat of physical harm, call the police
● Don’t respond or engage with the bully
● Spend time with a solid support group
It’s a personal decision how someone chooses to respond to a bully. One bully might get bored when their behavior is ignored and choose to stop, but another might just double down. So, there’s no one right way to stop a bully. The most important thing is that the individual being bullied doesn’t feel alone. Telling a trusted friend or family member who will listen and empathize normally helps a person feel more supported. Bullying is difficult to deal with, but everyone should know that it’s an experience they can get through with the right help and support.
Published by Arina Smith