Bullying or harassment can happen to any student
All it takes to become a target of bullying is for a student to be perceived as different, offbeat or not conforming to what’s “normal”. When students are bullied because of legally protected characteristics, such as disability, actual or perceived sexual orientation, gender or race, the behavior is considered harassment. Research shows that students are bullied for all kinds of differences.
Without intervention, students who fall into the roles of bully or target are at higher risk for truancy, mental health challenges, drug and alcohol abuse and suicide. In schools where bullying and harassment are tolerated, fear, aggression and violence can become the cultural norm.
Bullying is serious. Bullying is different from playing around or peer conflict. It occurs when a student, or group of students, intentionally and repeatedly try to get power over or hurt another student. It happens in four main ways.
- Physical bullying, when a student uses physical force to hurt another student by hitting, pushing, shoving, kicking, taking a student’s belongings or stealing their money.
- Verbal bullying, when a student uses words or gestures to humiliate another student by threatening, taunting, intimidating, insulting, sarcasm, name-calling, teasing, slurs, graffiti, put-downs and ridicule.
- Relational bullying, when a student isolates another student from their peer group through leaving them out, gossiping, spreading rumors and scapegoating.
Cyberbullying, when a student uses a cell-phone, text messages, e-mails, instant messaging, chats and social networking sites to bully another student in any of the ways described above.