Bullying 101

Bullying is happening everywhere, and it can happen to anyone. In an effort to protect children, it is important to understand the dangers of bullying, cyberbullying, and digital abuse, as well as related indicators, because students often do not report these behaviors.

  • 13 million students will be bullied in the United States this year.
  • 1 in 4 students will be bullied, and 1 in 3 will be cyberbullied.
  • Research shows that in over half of bullying situations (57%), when someone intervenes, the bullying stops within 10 seconds.

What is Bullying?

Bullying is defined as repeated, negative, and hostile or aggressive behavior by one or more students with a real or perceived imbalance of power over another student for an extended period of time.

There are four different types of bullying:

  • Physical
  • Emotional/Verbal
  • Digital/Cyberbullying
  • Social

Thypes of Bullying

Physical Bullying

Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching, and pushing or damaging property.  Physical bullying causes both short-term and long-term damage.

Emotional Bullying

Emotional bullying is a form of bullying in which individuals use words to isolate, mock, criticize, or scare others. Emotional bullying targets a person’s emotions, which can affect their self-esteem and confidence. It can also include verbal bullying, which is name-calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse. While verbal bullying can start off harmless, it can escalate to levels that start affecting the individual target.

Cyberbullying Bullying

Cyberbullying is threatening, harassing, or aggressive behavior by one or more youth or teens toward another using digital technology such as the Internet or cell phone. Unlike bullying, cyberbullying does not have to be a repeated behavior, nor does the behavior need to take place between persons of unequal power.

Cyberbullying can include:

  • Spreading rumors or posting false information
  • Sending harassing messages
  • Posting compromising or manipulated images
  • Persuading others to join in cyberbullying the victim
  • Posting the victim’s private information
  • Bullying others while impersonating the victim

Social Bullying

Social bullying is hard to recognize; it is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and/or cause humiliation.

Social bullying can include:

  • lying and spreading rumors
  • encouraging others to socially exclude someone
  • negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks
  • damaging someone’s social reputation or social acceptance.
  • playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate
  • mimicking unkindly

Indicators of Bullying


  • Frequent cuts or bruises
  • Injuries without good explanation
  • Voices frequent physical complaints
  • Changes in sleeping/eating patterns
  • Ripped/torn clothing upon return from school or other activity
  • Missing items or valuables


  • Suddenly reluctant to go to school or participate in sports/other activities
  • Frequently loses money or other possessions
  • Frequently spends time alone
  • Seems sad or depressed
  • Suicidal

Indicators of Digital/Cyberbullying

  • Spends large amounts of time online, especially at night or when alone
  • Receives an excessive amount of email or text messages
  • Quickly exits computer or cell phone when parent or guardian approaches
  • Withdrawn or depressed
  • Does not want to go to school

Impacts of Bullying

Bullying has become a problem with enormous impact in the US.

  • 13 million students will be bullied in the US this year
  • 160,000 students miss school daily for fear of being bullied
  • 1 out of 4 children are bullied (US Dept. of Justice)
  • Every 7 minutes a child is bullied on a playground
  • Between 50% and 77% of students report having been bullied
  •  Of teachers, 25% see nothing wrong with bullying and consequently, intervene in only 4% of bullying incidents
  • 85% of bullying is not responded to appropriately or at all

Cyberbullying has also become a tremendous problem. Whereas victims of bullying can escape the torment, at least for several hours each day, those who are victims of cyberbullying can be targeted by their attackers 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.  A peer one day can become a predator the next day with terrible and tragic consequences.

What is the impact of Bullying?

Victims of bullying often suffer academically and from long-term psychological effects. In addition, bullies often go on to commit crimes – former bullies have a 4-fold increase in criminal behavior by age 24. After interviewing 41 school shooters in 37 incidents, the Secret Service found that 2/3 had been bullied, and their attacks were motivated by a will to seek revenge

The first step in changing this epidemic of social torment is understanding the true depth of its impact on our children. Hopefully, now you have a better understanding of the reality of bullying.

Download and share the Identifying and Responding to Bullying and Cyberbullying to learn the indicators of bullying and steps you can take to help prevent it.


Additional Resources on Bullying:

Bullying Resources

Cyberbullying Resources

How is Bullying Different in Younger vs. Older Grades

Cyberbullying – When Peers are Predators

Effective Bullying Intervention by Adults



1 National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019 

2  National Center for Educational Statistics, 2019

3 McCallion & Feder, 2013 

4 “Bullying and peer victimization at school: Perceptual differences between students and school staff.” School Psychology Review

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