What is Bullying?
Bullying can happen anywhere, to anyone—school, work, at home. Sure, we all know the stereotype of the playground bully pining to steal your lunch money, or the gossip girl ready to spread an ugly rumor. But, the truth is that bullying happens every day in both obvious and subtle ways that are a far cry from the Regina George rumor mill.
If you are experiencing bullying, know that you are not alone. Although it’s hard to know exactly how many people have experienced bullying, most estimates indicate that the vast majority of people experience bullying at some point. It’s a serious problem that can be detrimental for self-confidence and can significantly impact one’s ability to feel safe, do their best work, and take care of themselves.
Bullying is repeated hurtful actions with the intention of demonstrating power imbalance. And, it can take many forms: in-person physical attacks, verbal taunting, and even cyberbullying. While still hurtful, bullying is not a one-off act of unkindness. Bullying is on-going, consistent, and relentless, chipping away at someone’s sense of self over time.
Bullying is no joke. Studies show that persistent bullying is associated with symptoms of mental health challenges like anxiety and depression. This is especially true for young people, many of whom navigate the psychological challenges of bullying long after the bullying has ended.
Signs of Bullying
Bullying is sometimes hard to spot, but there are some key warning signs to keep top of mind. Paying attention to the warning signs could help you support your friends and reach out for help when you need it. People who are being bullied may show any of these signs:
- Injuries they can’t explain
- Changes in eating and sleeping
- Faking illness or claiming to feel sick
- Headaches and stomachaches
- Avoiding social situations, including those with people who were once their friends
- Decreased self-esteem
- Self-harm or other dangerous behaviors
- Losing possessions
- 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 with bullying. Reach a Crisis Counselor by texting HOME to 741741.
Help for Bullying
If you are being bullied, it might feel like there is no end in sight. No fear—there are so many people (us included!) here to help.
Here are a few ways to beat bullying:
- Give us the lowdown. Try texting us if you’re being bullied and need someone to lend an ear. By texting HELLO to 741741 you can connect with a Crisis Counselor who can listen totally judgment-free and help you strategize ways to get through the day.
- Tell a teacher. If you’re being bullied at school, there are people around you every day whose entire job is to keep you safe and help you learn. Telling a teacher you need help with a bully could help you get the support you need to get back to spending your school days filling your brain with knowledge.
- Find a new crew. No need to waste your time on people who don’t make you feel good. Find the people who fill you up and fill your time with them. That might mean branching out! Try a new activity, join a club, or maybe finally reach out to that person you’ve been too shy to schedule a friend-date with.
- Pro – Tip: When you’re in the thick of it, popularity can feel like everything. In reality, the only person who should care about who you are spending your time with is you. Forget prom queen and prioritize the people who prioritize you.
- Take a break. If you’re the one bullying, take some time to reflect on why you’re bullying. Maybe in self-reflection, you’ll find that you’re taking out your anger and frustration on someone who deserves kindness (ahem—everyone is that “someone”).
Types of Bullying
Bullying can take many forms. Here are some of the most common:
- Physical Bullying: hurting or trying to hurt someone’s body. Think kicking, hitting, 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. For example, this could be purposefully leaving someone out or spreading rumors.
Of course, do not forget cyberbullying. Over 40% of young people experiencing cyberbullying at some point. Cyberbullying is any act of verbal or social bullying that occurs through technology. Hurtful texts, unkind social media posts, chatroom harassment—that’s all bullying. And, it’s not okay.
Bullying can happen to anyone, but racial bullying is particularly charged. Racial bullying is a manifestation of racism and it includes any bullying related to one’s race, culture, or ethnicity. This could include racist names or threats, racist graffiti, personal attacks on one’s identity.
Effects of Bullying
Bullying affects everyone—not just the person being bullied.
People who are bullied may experience anxiety and depression, making it hard to eat, sleep, and maintain a functioning social life. Fear, isolation, constant worry—all often the result of bullying.
Bullies need help and support too. Sometimes bullies engage in violent and abusive behavior in conjunction with substance abuse, fighting, and criminal activity.
Bullying and Suicide
There is a relationship between bullying and suicide. But, like anything, it’s complicated. People who experience bullying may experience anxiety and depression, increasing their risk of feeling suicidal.
People experiencing bullying are the only ones affected by bullying. Know someone being bullied? You—the bystander—can help stop bullying in your community. Help victims find safety, tell bullies their behavior is hurtful and unacceptable, and refer your community to resources. (Pro-tip: you can always tell someone to dial 741741 when you think they might need help.)
Crisis Text Line is here to help with bullying. Text a Crisis Counselor at 741741.