- What is the definition of the word “Bullying”?
Bullying is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threats, to abuse, aggressively dominate, or intimidate. The behavior is often repeated and habitual. One essential prerequisite is the perception (by the bully or by others) of an imbalance of physical or social power.
Bullying includes actions such as, but not limited to, making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
- Types of Bullying
There are 4 different types of bullying.
- Verbal Bullying
- Social Bullying
- Physical bullying
- What is Verbal Bullying?
Verbal bullying is the act of saying or writing mean or hurtful things. The goal of verbal bullying is to degrade and demean the victim to make the aggressor appear or feel dominant and powerful. Verbal bullying can include:
- Name calling
- Teasing someone in a hurtful way
- Making fun of someone
- Being sarcastic in a hurtful way
- Offensive comments, insults or jokes about someone or their family.
- Mean comments about someone’s body or physical characteristics.
- Hurtful comments about the way someone looks or acts.
- Inappropriate sexual comments
- Threatening to cause harm.
Words alone are powerful. When it comes to bullying, sometimes verbal bullying can result in deeper long term emotional wounds than physical bullying. This can lead to depression, anxiety, and other problems. In extreme cases, several well noted instances of teen suicide have been linked to prolonged verbal bullying of a classmate or peer.
- What is Social Bullying?
Sometimes referred to as emotional bullying, relational aggression is a type of social manipulation where the aggressor’s goal is to hurt their peers or sabotage their social standing.
Although relational aggression is common in middle school, it is not limited to tweens. In fact, some bullying bosses and other workplace bullies also engage in relational aggression.
This type of bullying can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, anxiety disorders, physical distress (like headaches or stomach aches), eating disorders, sleep disruption, or behavioral problems such as acting out, withdrawing, or displaying inappropriate emotion in social situations.
Social Bullying can include:
- Lying and spreading rumors
- Playing jokes to embarrass and humiliate.
- Encouraging others to social exclude someone.
- Damaging someone’s social reputation or social acceptance.
Typically, the aggressor in this type of cases, target others because they are jealous or feel like they are socially unacceptable. Maintaining popularity is the main reason for social bullying.
- What is Physical Bullying?
Physical bullying is the use of physical actions to intimidate and gain control over a target. The physical actions are unwanted by the victim and can either cause damage to their body or possessions. Victims of physical bullying can easily wind up in the hospital or dead. Also, as in all forms of bullying, physical bullying can also cause emotional distress, make the victims feel powerless, and think less of themselves. This leads to feelings of shame, isolation, and despair.
Those who physically bully others are also likely to face serious behavioral problems. They are at higher risk of later developing substance abuse issues and engaging in violent behavior, such as theft, and vandalism. Some common types of physical bullying are:
- Hitting or kicking
- Shoving or pushing
- Property damage
Physical bullying can be anything from pushing and shoving to kicking, punching, fist fighting, being shot, being raped or being physically attacked by a group of people. It causes both short term and long-term damage to the victim.
- What is Cyberbullying?
Also known as “cyberharassment“ is bullying with the use of digital technologies. Face-to-face bullying and cyberbullying can often happen alongside each other. But cyberbullying leaves a digital footprint.
Cyberbullying takes place over digital devices like cell phones, computers, and tablets and it can occur through text messages, online in social media, forums, or gaming platforms, Cyberbullying includes:
- Sending mean emails, texts, or instant messages
- Posting hurtful things about someone on social media
- Spreading rumors or gossip about someone on the social media
- Making fun of someone in an online chat
- Pretending to be another person by creating a fake online profile
- Threatening or intimidating someone online or in a text message
- Taking an embarrassing photo or video and sharing it without permission
Cyberbullies may disclose victim’s personal information on websites, social media, or forums. The bully can use this information to create fake profiles. This can leave the cyberbully anonymous, which can make it difficult for them to be caught or punished for their behavior, although not all cyberbullies maintain their anonymity.
- Where bullying occurs:
Bullying can happen anywhere. The most common grounds for bullying are schools and workplace, although it can also happen in prisons, in the military, etc.…
- School Bullying:
School bullying can occur either in schools, on campus, or outside of school, but it is due to relationships created in school settings.
Each school district is required to adopt a policy that prohibits discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying that applies to all acts related to school activity or school attendance occurring within a school.
Is there a law that protects students from this type of bullying? Yes, there is one, and is called the Seth law, and was passed so that all public-school students should have equal rights and opportunities.
School districts must adopt a process for receiving and investigating complaints of discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying. The process must include a timeline to investigate and resolve complaints and an appeals process for the complainant. All complaints are to remain confidential, as appropriate, and schools are required to protect complainants from retaliation.
Under Seth’s Law, the policy must specifically prohibit discrimination, harassment, intimidation, and bullying based on these actual or perceived characteristics: disability, gender, gender identity, gender expression, nationality, race or ethnicity, religion, and sexual orientation. Discrimination, harassment, intimidation, or bullying directed at someone associated with a person or group with one or more of the listed actual or perceived characteristics is also prohibited.
- What are some common red flags of bullying at school?
Some common alerts or warning signs that you child is being abused are:
- Stolen, lost or damaged possessions.
- Suddenly does not want to go to school or ride the bus.
- Unusually hungry after school.
- Has nightmares or trouble sleeping.
- Personality changes.
- Change in appearance.
- Headaches or stomachaches.
- Change in online behavior.
- Begins bullying behavior with siblings or friends.
- Physical signs.
- Workplace Bullying:
According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, more than 60 million working people in the United States are affected by bullying. The first and most important step to overcome bullying is learning how to identify what bullying is.
A few examples of bullying include:
- Targeted jokes.
- Being purposely misled about work duties
- Denial of requests for time off without an appropriate or valid reason (Constantly)
- Threats, humiliation, and other verbal abuse
- Excessive performance monitoring
- Overly harsh or unjust criticism
Criticism or monitoring is not always bullying. For example, if your supervisor is being objective and constructive, it is not considered bullying. But if it is meant to intimidate, humiliate someone, it would be considered as bullying.
Since bullying is often verbal or psychological in nature, it may not always be visible to others. Fortunately, California employees are protected by several sets of laws that prohibit workplace bullying. Some examples are:
- The California Constitution prohibits employment discrimination on the basis sex, race, creed, color, nationality, or ethnic origin.
- The Fair Employment and Housing Act (called “FEHA”) is a California state law that governs many types of discrimination and bullying faced by employees, unpaid interns, job applicants, and some independent contractors.
- The Age Discrimination Act protects against age-related discrimination and harassment against workers over the age of 40.
- The Americans with Disabilities Act protects those with physical and mental disabilities from unfair discrimination and harassment based on their disability.
- Title VII of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 is a federal law that prohibits discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex, or national origin.
Surprisingly, many types of conduct that most people would consider to be “bullying” are perfectly legal in California. To be illegal, the bullying must be motivated by an unlawful reason. The worker must be specifically targeted or singled out because of their protected characteristic.
- How to stop workplace bullying:
- Know that it starts with you. Treat others the same you would like to be treated, using an ethical, respectful behavior in your everyday interactions.
- Communicate. If someone does something that you feel is disrespectful, have a conversation with them.
- If you see something, say something. While you may not be the target of a bully, if you witness disrespectful or uncivil behavior, say something.
- Attend and participate in training. Awareness training and skill building is essential for all employees and helps employees translate policies and procedures into everyday workplace behaviors.
It is important to understand that we are all responsible for creating and maintaining safe and respectful workplaces.
There are several bullying prevention resources, and at Liberty Law, we are committed to helping others who have been bullied and harassed or have suffered a serious injury because of the bullying (physical harm, suicide attempts, diagnosed with mental or emotional illness). You are not alone, and we can help you overcome these difficult times. Contact us today for a consultation if you or your children are being or has been victims of bullying of any kind.