Elements of Bullying


What is Bullying?

Bullying is complex and appears in many different forms, but in general it is an action that is carried out deliberately to cause emotional or physical harm to another.  It can be characterized by: 

  • An overt action such as hitting, or name calling
  • A covert action such as gossiping or harassment over the internet 

Bullying can be circumstantial in that it only occurs once as a result of a particular situation, or it can be chronic and characteristic of long-term behavior.       

Bullying can consist of:

  • Verbal abuse
  • Written statements or drawings 
  • Emotionally or physically threatening actions 
  • Physical assault or harm 
  • Conduct to purposefully humiliate another  

What are the different forms of bullying? 

  • Manipulative bullying - when one child is being controlled and coerced by another student
  • Conditional Friendship – when a child is under the impression that a student is their friend, while in reality this student alternates between acting as a friend and acting as a bully
  • Exploitative Bullying – when the aspects of a child’s condition or disability are used to bully them
  • Cyber Bullying – when the internet, cell phones, or other technological devices are used to intentionally harm or embarrass another individual

When does bullying become harassment?

The OCR (Office for Civil Rights) and DOJ (Department of Justice) have made the distinction that bullying becomes harassment when certain behaviors – such as verbal abuse, epithets, slurs, graphic or written statements, threats, physical assault, or other conduct that may be physically threatening or humiliating – are directed at a protected class, including race, color, national origin, sex, disability, and religion.


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published this page in Special Needs Toolkit 2012-03-30 18:17:58 -0400