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What is bullying?

Bullying is being aggressive to another person in a physical, verbal, or relational manner. Cyberbullying (or "electronic aggression") is bullying that is done electronically, including through the Internet, e-mail, or mobile devices, among others.

Bullying can be:1

  • Physical: punching, beating, kicking, or pushing; stealing, hiding, or damaging another person's belongings; forcing someone to do things against his or her will
  • Verbal: teasing, calling names, or insulting another person; threatening another person with physical harm; spreading rumors or untrue statements about another person
  • Relational: refusing to talk to someone or making them feel left out; encouraging other individuals to bully someone

To be considered bullying, the behavior in question must be aggressive.2 The behavior may also involve an imbalance of power (e.g., physical strength, popularity, access to embarrassing details about a person) and be repetitive, meaning that it happens more than once.2

Bullying also includes cyberbullying and workplace bullying.

  • Cyberbullying has increased with the increased use of the social media sites, the Internet, e-mail, and mobile devices.1 Unlike more traditional bullying, cyberbullying can be more anonymous and can occur nearly constantly.1 A person can be cyberbullied day or night, such as when they are checking their e-mail, using Facebook or another social network site, or even when they are using a mobile phone.1
  • Workplace bullying refers to adult behavior that is repeatedly aggressive and involves the use of power over another person at the workplace.3 Certain laws apply to adults in the workplace to help prevent such violence. Read more about occupational violence and laws to prevent it at:

  1. Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development. (2010). Taking a stand against bullying. Retrieved on August 7, 2012, from [top]
  2. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.). What is bullying? Bullying definition. Retrieved on August 7, 2012, from [top]
  3. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (n.d.). Workplace bullying. Retrieved on August 7, 2012, from [top]