You've probably experienced being picked on by somebody at some point in your life, or witnessed it happening to someone else.
You may picture a bully in the schoolyard constantly picking on someone when the word "bullying" comes to mind. The reality is that bullying can happen in many different ways, in all stages of life and may not always be easy to see.
Types of Bullying
Bullying can be physical - using violence and invading the personal space of others. It can also be verbal - directing hurtful words towards others, especially when it is repetitive and happens over a period of time.
It can be direct (calling someone hurtful names, physically hurting them or their property, making threats) or relational (attempting to use social groups to paint someone in a negative way and hurt their reputation).
Cyber bullying involves the use of technology to target and attack someone by harassing them online using email, social media platforms, or text messages.
So how do I know if what I see or experience is bullying?
Bullying can happen anywhere: at work, in public, at home and online. A bully could be someone close to you or a complete stranger that you've never met. Some behaviours that are considered to be bullying are:
Name calling/ verbal harassment
threatening to hurt someone physically or socially (ruining their reputation)
Excluding someone from places they have the right to be (social groups, clubs, teams, public places)
Hazing (team or group initiation "rituals" that involve humiliation and violence)
Racist comments towards someone
Unwanted repetitive communication/ sexual advances
Stealing or destroying someones property
making fun of someone's physical appearance, gender identity, or sexual orientation.
Different bullying behaviours often go hand in hand. For example, someone who physically harasses a person is likely to verbally harass them as well.
A key component of bullying is that it repeats and has a power imbalance between the bully and victim. Bullies generally seek out someone who they perceive to be physically or emotionally weaker, in an attempt to feel more powerful.
Our own personal histories, along with racial, gender and social biases can fuel hurtful behaviour to others.
What is the term for the specific bullying behaviour that is common in group or team rituals?
Cyberbullying involves the same types of common bullying behaviours but exists online.
Online harassment can be constant and has the potential to involve large groups of people participating from anywhere in the world. There is also a sense of anonymity online, which can increase the type of abusive behaviour because the consequences are more distant. For example, an online bully doesn't see the face of their victim.
Despite being aware of the obvious signs of bullying, the reality is that it can sometimes happen in plain sight and the behaviour is often overlooked or ignored. If something LOOKS or FEELS wrong, it probably is. Be aware of the behaviours you observe every day, and how you treat others.