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The actions and behaviors

This is not meant to be an exhaustive list of every kind of bullying behaviour, but it covers the most commonly encountered forms of real-world bullying.

Physical bullying

  • Hitting, punching, slapping, kicking or striking
  • Tripping, pushing, pulling or shoving
  • Confronting, antagonizing or taunting someone
  • Hiding, defacing or breaking a person’s things
  • Throwing objects or substances at someone
  • Confining, restraining or holding a person
  • Locking someone in or out of a place
  • Sticking or attaching things to a person
  • Ripping, pulling or taking something off someone
  • Drawing, painting or marking a person
  • Forcing someone against their will

Emotional bullying

  • Calling a person names
  • Making fun of or embarassing a person
  • Laughing, pointing or sniggering at omeone
  • Leaving a person out on purpose
  • Starting rumors about a person
  • Telling lies about a person
  • Yelling and screaming at a person
  • Making rude gestures at a person
  • Posting mean messages to someone
  • Making mean comments about a person
  • Making someone feel bad about who they are

The actors and roleplayers

Schoolyard bullying

The dynamics of schoolyard bullying revolve around circles of influence and involvement. Both the bully, on the offensive side, and the victim, on the defensive side, take cues from and act according to their actual or perceived role, capabilities and support in the interaction.

The Offensive side

Bully: On the offensive side, the bully is the central actor, the person that takes the lead and engages directly with the victim. The bully seldom acts alone. They are usually accompanied by active participants, assisted by facilitators or encouraged by enablers.

Participants: Participants are those who actively engage in the bullying of the victim. They may be self-motivated or controlled to some degree by the bully.

Facilitators: Facilitators don’t engage directly in the bullying, but play an active role in creating the opportunity for bullying to take place.

Enablers: Enablers are supporters of the bully and the bullying but who maintain sufficient distance to avoid being accused of participating. They’re likely to verbalize their support of the bully or their disapproval of the victim. They play an important role in encouraging the bullying behaviour.

Onlookers: Those that witness the bullying without getting involved are onlookers. Onlookers may believe that they’re neutral, but the fact is that their inaction only lends support to the bully. By having an audience that appears not to oppose the bullying, the bully is likely to be empowered to continue bullying the victim. This strengthens the actual (or perceived) power imbalance between the bully and victim. Both bully and victim are likely to perceive onlookers as approving of the bullying. This has the effect of further isolating the victim (at least from the perspective of the victim), reinforcing their belief that they are powerless to act and possibly even that everyone is against them.

bullying influencers

The Defensive side

Victim: On the defensie side there are also often a number of players besides the victim who is the primary target of the bullying.

Defenders: If lucky, the victim may be actively defended by friends or “good samaritans” who physically come between the bully and the victim or aid the victim in escaping the confrontation – they are defenders.

Supporters: The victim (and any defenders) may receive support from those that side with them. Some might call the bully out without physically placing themselves between the bully and victim. Others may seek assistance from or alert an adult or the authorities.

Sympathizers: those that identify with or have sympathy for the victim, may offer words of encouragement or perform acts of kindness in lieu of direct involvement. Sympathizers are often themselves current or past victims of bullying.

Onlookers: Most onlookers will, unfortunately, not get involved for fear of becoming victims themselves or fear of not having their concerns taken seriously or dealt with appropriately. The fact is that those who are aware of the situation yet say or do nothing to help the victim play an important role in facilitating and encouraging the bullying.

Workplace bullying

It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the dynamics of workplace bullying mimic those of schoolyard bullying. As with schoolyard bullying, there can be both physical and emotional bullying in the workplace. In addition to these, workplace bullying often involves the following.

  • Hurtful remarks, attacks, or making fun of a person’s aptitude, intelligence or capabilities
  • Harassing a person because of their sex, sexuality, gender identity, race, culture, age or background
  • Unwelcome touching and sexually explicit comments or requests that make a person uncomfortable
  • Excluding a person or stopping a person from working with people or taking part in work-related activities
  • Playing mind games, ganging up on a person, or other types of psychological harassment and intimidation
  • Behaving in a manner that makes a person feel less important and undervalued
  • Giving a person pointless tasks that have nothing to do with their job
  • Giving a person impossible jobs that can’t be done in the given time or with the resources provided
  • Deliberately changing a person’s working hours or schedule to make it difficult for them
  • Deliberately holding back information a person needs to get their work done properly
  • Making a person to do embarassing, humiliating or demeaning things that are unrelated to their work