Bullying is the act of intentionally causing harm to others, through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. Although the UK currently has no legal definition of bullying, some US states have laws against it. Bullying is usually done to coerce others by fear or threat.
Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.
In colloquial speech, bullying often describes a form of harassment perpetrated by an abuser who possesses more physical and/or social power and dominance than the victim. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a target. The harassment can be verbal, physical and/or emotional. Sometimes bullies will pick on people bigger or smaller than their size. Bullies hurt people verbally and physically. There are many reasons for that. One of them is because the bullies themselves have been the victim of bullying (e.g. a bullying child who is abused at home, or bullying adults who are abused by their colleagues).
Many programs have been started to prevent bullying at schools with promotional speakers. Bullying consists of two types - verbal and physical.
Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when a person is "exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." He defines negative action as "when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways."
Bullying can occur in any setting where human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, the workplace, home and neighborhoods. It is even a common push factor in migration. Bullying can exist between social groups, social classes and even between countries (see Jingoism).
USA National Center for Education Statistics suggests that bullying can be broken into two categories: Direct bullying, and indirect bullying which is also known as social aggression.
Ross states that direct bullying involves a great deal of physical aggression such as shoving and poking, throwing things, slapping, choking, punching and kicking, beating, stabbing, pulling hair, scratching, biting, scraping and pinching.
He also suggests that social aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by threatening the victim into social isolation. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the victim, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim, and criticizing the victim's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers (including the victim's race, religion, disability, etc). Ross (1998) outlines other forms of indirect bullying which are more subtle and more likely to be verbal, such as name calling, the silent treatment, arguing others into submission, manipulation, gossip/ false gossip, lies, rumors/ false rumors, staring, giggling, laughing at the victim, saying certain words that trigger a reaction from a past event, and mocking. Children's charity Act Against Bullying was set up in 2003 to help children who were victims of this type of bullying by researching and publishing coping skills.
The National Conference of State Legislatures said:
Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate. It has also been suggested that a prejudicial view of subordinates can be particular a risk factor.
Further studies have shown that while envy and resentment may be motives for bullying, there is little evidence to suggest that bullies suffer from any deficit in self esteem (as this would make it difficult to bully). However, bullying can also be used as a tool to conceal and boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered.
Researchers have identified other risk factors such as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.
Bullying may also be "tradition" in settings where an age group or higher rank feels superior than lowerclassmen, such as in the Russian Army where conscripts in their second year of service typically bully and control first year conscripts.
It is often suggested that bullying behavior has its origin in childhood:
Bullying can often be associated with street gangs, especially at school.
High-level forms of violence such as assault and murder usually receive most media attention, but lower-level forms of violence such as bullying, has only in recent years started to be addressed by researchers, parents and guardians and authority figures (Whitted & Dupper, 2005).
It is only in recent years that bullying has been recognised and recorded as a separate and distinct offence, but there have been well documented cases that were recorded in a different context. The Fifth Volume of the Newgate Calendar contains at least one example where Eton Scholars George Alexander Wood and Alexander Wellesley Leith were charged, at Aylesbury Assizes, with killing and slaying the Hon. F. Ashley Cooper on February 28, 1825 in an incident that would now, surely be described as "lethal hazing. The Newgate calendar contains several other examples that, while not as distinct, could be considered indicative of situations of bullying.
Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers and the school system itself: there is an inherent power differential in the system that can easily predispose to subtle or covert abuse, humiliation, or exclusion - even while maintaining overt commitments to anti-bullying policies.
School shootings receive an enormous amount of media attention. The children who perpetrate these shootings sometimes claim that they were victims of bullying and that they resorted to violence only after the school administration repeatedly failed to intervene. In many of these cases, the victims of the shooters sued both the shooters' families and the schools.
Some suggest these rare but horrific events have led schools to try harder to discourage bullying, with programs designed to teach students cooperation, as well as training peer moderators in intervention and dispute resolution techniques, as a form of peer support.
American victims and their families have legal recourse, such as suing a school or teacher for failure to adequately supervise, racial or gender discrimination, or other civil rights violations. Special education students who are victimized may sue a school or school board under the ADA or Section 504.
Unlike the more physical form of schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the established rules and policies of the organization and society. Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious.
Particularly when perpetrated by a group, workplace bullying is sometimes known as mobbing. It can also be known as "career assassination" in political circles.
Bullies will even create blogs to intimidate victims worldwide.
Some argue that this behaviour should be allowed because of a general academic consensus that "soldiering" is different from other occupations. Soldiers expected to risk their lives should, according to them, develop strength of body and spirit to accept bullying.
In some countries, ritual hazing among recruits has been tolerated and even lauded as a rite of passage that builds character and toughness; while in others, systematic bullying of lower-ranking, young or physically slight recruits may in fact be encouraged by military policy, either tacitly or overtly (see dedovschina). Also, the Russian army usually have older/more experienced candidates abusing - kicking or punching - less experienced soldiers..
Hazing has been reported in a variety of social contexts, including:
Hazing is considered a felony in several US states, and anti-hazing legislation has been proposed in other states.