Bullying Definition and Types of Behavior

What behaviors define bullying, and the effects on victims

Girl (9-11) in park hand on hip, looking down, boys (9-12) in background
Bullying is intentional aggression that's physical or verbal or both. Digital Vision/Digital Vision/Getty Images


Bullying is intentional aggressive behavior. It can take the form of physical or verbal harassment and involves an imbalance of power (a group of children can gang up on a victim or someone who is physically bigger or more aggressive can intimidate someone else, for instance).

Bullying behavior can include teasing, insulting someone (particularly about their weight or height, race, sexuality, religion or other personal traits), shoving, hitting, excluding someone, or gossiping about someone.

This behavior can happen in real life as well as online, via social media sites, texting, emails, and other tech devices and platforms.

Bullying can cause a victim to feel upset, afraid, ashamed, embarrassed, and anxious about going to school. It can involve children of any age, including younger elementary grade-schoolers and even kindergarteners. Bullying behavior is frequently repeated unless there is intervention.

For more about bullying, its effect on victims, and what parents can do to prevent and stop bullying, read:

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