The Different Types of Bullying You Need to Know About

Do you understand the different types of bullying in schools? Here’s a quick and dirty guide.

There are four different types of bullying that encompass the wide range of bullying behaviors seen in and around schools today.

Stopbullying.gov identifies three main categories: Verbal, social and physical bullying. Other groups, including parents.com, have added cyber bullying to that list.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention define bullying as “any unwanted aggressive behaviors by another youth or group of youth who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”

Around one in five children between the ages of 12 and 18 experience bullying, according to a 2015 study by the National Center for Education Statistics.

Campus Safety has reported on bullying assessment tools, the negative effects of bullying and ways to prevent bullying on campus, but the different types of bullying are important to understand.

Below we give examples of each category of bullying, the side effects associated with them according to stopbullying.gov and then summarize expert recommendations on how to stop bullying on school campuses.

Type of Bullying #1: Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying can include teasing, inappropriate comments, name calling, threats and even offensive hand gestures. Any of these acts in written form also constitute verbal bullying.

Such bullying can lead to psychological harm for students, such as lower self-esteem, anxiety or depression.

Type of Bullying #2: Social Bullying

Social bullying can include intentionally leaving someone out of activities, excluding them from lunch tables or other groups, telling other children not to be friends with someone, embarrassing someone in public and rumor-spreading.

This type of bullying can have the same psychological effects as verbal bullying but is more likely to lead to isolation and other anti-social behavior. Parents.com says this type of bullying is more common among female students.

types of bullying

Type of Bullying #3: Physical Bullying

Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing and stealing or breaking someone’s belongings.

Victims of this bullying may have cuts, bruises, damaged belongings or clothes, headaches or stomach aches.

Type of Bullying #4: Cyber bullying

This emerging form of bullying includes many of the same behaviors as social and verbal bullying, only they take place online. There are countless ways that students can communicate these days, but social media has made it easier to target individuals and publish threatening, hurtful or offensive information about someone.

Victims of cyber bullying will exhibit similar behaviors to victims of social or verbal bullying, but it may be joined by a dramatic change in their use of social media and other online channels.

Ways to Combat All Types of Bullying

School policies should address and define bullying clearly. The exact policy schools should adopt is very much up for debate, although some researchers have found that zero tolerance bullying policies have “not had an impact in keeping schools safer.” Those researchers suggested such policies can deter reporting because students may fear overly harsh punishments.

RELATED: Parent’s Guide to Keeping Your College Student Safe

Authority figures, rather, should encourage students to report bullying whenever they see it. Anonymous tip lines can be a great way to encourage reporting.

Giving students anti-bullying training is also a good way to stop bullying. Research has also shown that popular students given anti-bullying training make a bigger different curbing bullying than teachers or school staff members.

Adults should never tell a student to simply ignore bullying or to fight back. Similarly, if an authority figure speaks to a bully once and forgets the matter it will likely do little to solve the problem.

Providing adequate supervision in places like hallways, at recess and in locker rooms can also help deter bullying on campus.

When it comes to stopping different types of bullying in the areas surrounding campus, retired Detective Joseph Petrocelli recommends allowing underclassmen students to depart 15 minutes early to decrease unsupervised interactions between grades.

Only when schools begin quickly and effectively stopping all types of bullying can school officials truly say they’ve created a safe learning environment for students.

Read Next: Hazing Prevention Methods for Schools and Universities

About the Author


Zach Winn is a journalist living in the Boston area. He was previously a reporter for Wicked Local and graduated from Keene State College in 2014, earning a Bachelor’s Degree in journalism and minoring in political science.

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