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Learn more about crisis issues like suicide, self-harm, and depression, including how to get help.

Bullying: Everything from Fast Facts to Signs to How to Get Help


Bullying isn’t just something that students experience. Although the numbers are hard to track, it’s estimated that a large majority of people have experienced bullying at some point in their lives. When bullying goes left unchecked, however, it can have serious repercussions for everyone involved.

What is bullying?

The term bullying describes repeated unwanted aggression that creates power imbalance. In other words, it’s when someone repeatedly acts in a harmful manner towards another person.

A “power imbalance” in bullying can mean different things: maybe the bully is physically bigger and stronger than the victim, or maybe they’re just more popular. No matter how they exert their influence, bullies put their victims in a state of constant fear.

Types of Bullying

There are three major types of bullying. Note that these forms often occur at the same time:

  • Physical Bullying: hurting or trying to hurt a person’s body or possessions. This can include behaviors like hitting, kicking, breaking things, and pushing

  • Verbal Bullying: saying things to hurt a person’s feelings. This can include teasing, threats, and name-calling.

  • Social Bullying: destroying someone’s reputation or relationships. This can be tough to spot but some behaviors include purposefully leaving someone out, spreading rumors, or making people think badly about you.

There is also cyberbullying, which describes when verbal or social bullying occurs over technology. This could be over text, on social media, or on websites.

Racial Bullying

Racial bullying is a type of racism where someone is bullied because of their race, culture, or ethnicity. Racial bullying has some overlap with other types of bullying, but tend to focus more on aspects or stereotypes about the person’s identity. Some actions of racial bullying include:

  • Being called racist names or being sent racist messages or threats

  • Racist graffiti

  • Personal attacks, including violence or assault

  • People making assumptions about you because of your ethnicity, race, or culture

  • Being made to feel like you have to change how you look

  • Racist jokes, including jokes about your nationality, race, or culture.

Signs of Bullying

People who are being bullied may show any of these signs:

  1. Injuries they can’t explain

  2. Changes in eating and sleeping

  3. Faking illness or claiming to feel sick

  4. Headaches and stomachaches

  5. Avoiding social situations, including those with people who were once their friends

  6. Decreased self-esteem

  7. Self-harm or other dangerous behaviors

  8. Losing possessions

  9. Worsening academic performance

People who are bullying others may show any of these signs:

  • Getting into fights

  • Getting into more trouble at school

  • Becoming more aggressive

  • Having friends who bully

  • Showing concern about their reputation and popularity

Crisis Text Line is here to help, whether you’re witnessing someone be bullied or are being bullied yourself. If you or someone you know needs help, text a Crisis Counselor at 741741, or use the mobile text button below. Let’s take on bullying together.

Effects of Bullying

Bullying has harmful effects on the bully, the victim, and bystanders (people who witness it).

People who are bullied may experience anxiety and depression, which can continue into adulthood. Their eating and sleeping habits can be affected, leading to a variety of physical health issues. They’re more likely to miss school, which can damage their academic performance.

Bullies often continue to engage in risky or violent behavior, including alcohol/drug abuse, fights, criminal activity, and being abusive to spouses and romantic partners as adults.

Bystanders can have similar issues to victims, including missing school, depression, and anxiety.

Bullying and Suicide

The relationship between bullying and suicide is complicated. Victims of bullying are more likely to experience anxiety and depression, which are in turn risk factors for suicide. However, there are many people who deal with bullying that do not end their lives by suicide. It is dangerous to say that bullying is a direct cause of suicide.

Bystander Effect

Bystanders are people who see or hear bullying happen. A bystander can be helpful (by getting help from a trusted adult, or, if possible to do safely, intervening by defending the victim or asking the bully to stop) or harmful (by cheering the bully on, joining in, or accepting the situation by doing nothing).

Bullying Statistics

  • One in five students has experienced bullying

  • About 72% of students have witnessed bullying

  • Only about 20-30% of those who have experienced bullying ever report an incident

  • The most common type of bullying is cyberbullying, with 34% of those being bullied are bullied online (although it’s estimated the actual number is much higher)

Bullying and the LGBTQ+ Community

  • 74.1% of LGBTQ+ students  have experienced verbally bullying

  • 55.5% of LGBT students feel unsafe at school because of their sexual orientation, and 37.8% because of their gender expression

  • About ⅓ of LGBT students missed at least one entire day at school in the past month because they felt unsafe or uncomfortable

How To Get Help if You’re Being Bullied

If you’re being bullied, remember that the bullying is not your fault.

The best way to shut down bullies is to create an environment where their behavior has negative consequences. Some ways you can do this include:

  • Letting other people know that bullying is occurring

  • Telling the bully that you won’t accept their behavior

  • Looking for ways to spend time away from the space where the bully is

  • Talking to an authority figure, whether it’s a school principal or a boss at work

Bullying is a serious issue - you don’t have to wait until it gets dangerous to ask for help.

If you’re dealing with bullying, we can help. Text a Crisis Counselor at 741471 or use the mobile click to text button below. You’re not alone.

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