What are the types of bullying?

The MIND 24-7 Team | March 19, 2024

Bullying is a word that brings up a lot of feelings for many of us. It’s a shadow that follows not just kids and teens but adults, too, weaving through the fabric of our lives in ways we might not always recognize. It’s more than just a playground taunt or online jab; it’s a complex behavior that can deeply affect the way we see ourselves and the world around us. But here’s the thing–you’re not alone, and there’s a way through this. Let’s break down the types of bullying and how they can touch our lives, then walk through some steps to find support and healing.

What is bullying?

Think of bullying as someone using their power over someone else in a way that hurts or harms them. This can happen once or over and over, making it hard for the person on the receiving end to stand up for themselves or feel safe. It’s not just a one-off argument or disagreement; it’s a consistent pattern of behavior with the intent to harm.

Imagine a seesaw with one side always down. That’s like bullying–an imbalance where one person always has the upper hand. This power can come from physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or even popularity. It can happen anywhere–schools, workplaces, neighborhoods, and across the digital world.

How can bullying affect someone mentally?

The impact of bullying on someone’s mental health can be significant and long-lasting. It can lead to feelings of anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Survivors might find themselves withdrawing from friends, family, and activities they once enjoyed. They may struggle with feelings of worthlessness and doubt, questioning their value and place in the world.

For children and teens, these effects can be particularly damaging, affecting their schoolwork, relationships, and overall sense of self during crucial developmental years. Adults aren’t immune, either. Workplace bullying can lead to job dissatisfaction, decreased productivity, and even physical health problems due to stress.

Let’s consider Sarah, a high school student who’s being verbally bullied. She used to love going to school, but now, the thought fills her with dread. She’s anxious all the time, worried about what will be said to her next. Or Mike, who’s being targeted at work, feeling isolated and dreading each day, his mental health and work suffering. 

How many types of bullying are there?

Bullying comes in several shapes and sizes, each with its own set of challenges and consequences. Recognizing them is the first step toward addressing and healing from them.

  1. Physical bullying

This is perhaps the most visible form of bullying. This is when someone uses physical force or actions to hurt someone else–like hitting or breaking someone’s things.

  1. Verbal bullying

Words can hurt. This type of bullying involves saying mean things to harm another person to hurt their feelings or insult them.

  1. Social bullying

This one is tricky. Sometimes called relational bullying, this type seeks to harm someone’s reputation or relationships. It might involve spreading rumors, excluding someone on purpose, or embarrassing someone in public.

  1. Cyberbullying

In our digital age, bullying doesn’t stop at the school gates or the office door. Cyberbullying involves sending, posting, or sharing negative content about someone online. It’s particularly scary because it can happen 24/7 and can be anonymous.

  1. Intimidation

This involves using threats or fear to control someone. It might be subtle, like a look, gesture, or more direct threats.

  1. Targeting

This type focuses on bullying someone for specific attributes–race, sexuality, religion, skin color, or another other characteristic. It’s particularly harmful because it attacks the very essence of who someone is.

  1. The rumor mill and cancel culture

Spreading false or exaggerated stories about someone to damage their reputation can have devastating effects. Similarly, cancel culture involves group shunning, often online, that can destroy relationships and mental health.

How to seek help for bullying

It’s okay to need help, and reaching out is a sign of strength. There are people and organizations dedicated to helping those affected by bullying or looking to be an ally. Here are some places to start:

  • StopBullying.gov: A comprehensive resource offering advice on dealing with bullying for all ages.
  • PACER’s National Bullying Prevention Center: Tools and resources for students, parents, and educators to combat bullying.
  • Crisis Text Line: Immediate support is just a text away. Reach out anytime, anywhere. Text TALK to 741741.
  • The Trevor Project: A lifeline for LGBTQIA+ youth facing bullying or struggling with their identity. Text START to 678-678, call 1-866-488-7386, or chat online.
  • MIND 24-7: No matter what time of day or night, support for mental and emotional well-being is available. MIND 24-7 offers walk-in treatment for mental and behavioral health concerns, including bullying. We are open 24 hours a day, every day of the year, including holidays, and we can help anyone who walks in needing mental health care. All adults and youth are welcome—regardless of their ability to pay. We accept private insurance, Medicare, and AHCCCS, and will never turn someone away. If you or a loved one needs mental health care visit one of our convenient locations in the Phoenix area or text/call 1-844-MIND247.

Remember, everyone’s journey is different, and it’s perfectly fine to seek a path that feels right for you or to ask for guidance along the way. Whether it’s talking to a trusted adult, reaching out to one of these resources, or just spending time with people who lift you up, taking that first step is what matters.