What Is Bullying? Bullying Definition

By Sarah Fader

Updated December 18, 2018

Reviewer Audrey Kelly, LMFT

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I want you to ask yourself a serious question right now. What is bullying? Do you have a specific perspective on what bullying is? Were you taught the definition of bullying when you were going through school? The truth is that bullying, while it does have a general definition, is different to each of us. In this article, we are going to explore what bullying is and how it shows up in each of our lives in different ways.

What Is Bullying?

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According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, bullying is the "abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc."

Bullying occurs when someone decides to exercise dominance over another person by harming them emotionally or physically. Once they've managed to inflict enough pain, the person on the receiving end begins to suffer from a lack of self-esteem and confidence. The cycle continues, making the victim weaker and easier to dominate and control over time. If unchecked, the results of the bullying are often tragic.

This definition can be broken down further by exploring the three major things that must happen for a situation to be considered bullying:

  1. The person who is bullying someone else must be doing it intentionally.
  1. The person who is bullying someone must have been bullying this person repeatedly for a significant amount of time.
  1. The person who is bullying someone else must be stronger or must be in a higher position of power than the victim.

While general rudeness and other situations involving conflict can seem like bullying, it has to meet these three requirements to be considered bullying. Although we mainly focus on bullying in schools and among classmates, bullying can happen in the adult world as well, and it is especially common in the workplace. Adult bullying, however, can be far more subtle and harder to identify than bullying that takes place in youth. This is why we hear more about bullying in school rather than bullying in adult situations.

What Are Some Bullying Examples?

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Although bullying seems fairly straightforward, there are quite a few categories of bullying and some are far more subtle than others. Here are a few common categories that you should know about:

  1. Physical Bullying- Physical bullying occurs when someone uses physical violence to assert their dominance over someone. Anything physical that happens to a victim or a victim's belongings falls under the physical bullying category.
  1. Verbal Bullying- Verbal bullying occurs when someone uses words to bring down another person. Some of the most common forms of verbal bullying include name-calling and offensive slurs.
  1. Cyberbullying- Cyberbullying is a relatively new type of bullying that happens when someone posts something mean or hurtful to someone else online. This type of bullying can also happen over the phone or through other technological devices.
  1. Relational Bullying- Unlike the other three categories, relational bullying happens when a group excludes someone from any social situation.

Other forms of bullying do exist, but the majority of bullying incidents fall within these four categories.

What Are Some Reasons Why Someone Might Choose To Become A Bully?

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There are several reasons why someone might choose to become a bully, but there are two major causes that we can see in most bullies. The first reason why someone might become a bully is that of their home life. A lot of bullies become violent as a result of events taking place within the home such as domestic violence or even abuse that happens to the bully. Through violence towards others, they can express the anger that they harbor for those who are mistreating them at home.

The second reason why someone might become a bully is that it makes them feel better if they have no control over their life or if they need to dominate someone. When someone craves power, bullying gives them a method in which they can get it. It may also make them feel as though they are above other people when they are actively putting them down.

Some people become bullies simply because they enjoy hurting other people. However, this reason is rare amongst bullies and signifies a major psychological issue.

What Are Some Of The Effects Of Being Bullied?

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Bullying can produce major mental health issues in those who have been victimized. Those who have been bullied are more likely to suffer from issues such as depression and anxiety as well as a host of physical problems that stem from these psychological issues. Also, bullying can affect school performance and work performance.

What you may not know is that bullying affects bullies and witnesses as well. Those who have engaged in bullying behavior are more likely to abuse substances, become violent in future relationships, and engage in criminal behavior. This type of effect reaches out to those who witness these bullying incidents, and those who are bystanders may suffer from mental health issues and addiction to substances.

As you can see, bullying is a complex issue that can affect all of those who are involved in a bullying situation. If you have have been a victim of bullying, if you have witnessed someone being bullied, or if you have bullied someone yourself and you are dealing with some of the negative side effects, we recommend that you visit https://www.betterhelp.com/start/.

BetterHelp is an online counseling platform that is dedicated to providing affordable and convenient counseling to those who need it. By clicking on the link above, you will be brought to a page that will help connect you with the best online counselor for you!


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