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Overview of Bullying

BullyingBullying is a persistent pattern of threatening, harassing, or aggressive behavior directed toward another person or persons who are perceived as smaller, weaker, or less powerful.

There are many forms of bullying in both children and adults. Bullies may intimidate or harass their victims physically through hitting, pushing, or other physical violence; verbally through such actions as threats or name calling; or psychologically through spreading rumors (either live or online), making sexual comments or gestures, or excluding the victim from desired activities.

Bullying interferes with school performance, and children who are afraid of being bullied are more likely to miss school or drop out. Bullied children frequently experience developmental harm and fail to reach their full physiological, social, and academic potentials. Children who are bullied grow increasingly insecure and anxious and have persistently decreased self-esteem and greater depression than their peers, often even as adults. Children and adolescents have even been known to commit suicide as a result of being bullied; this tragic outcome has been referred to by some writers as “bullycide.”

People who are bullies as children often become bullies as adults. Bullying behavior in the home is called “child abuse” or “spousal abuse.” Bullying also occurs in prisons, churches, summer camps, college or boarding school dormitories, and other social groups or group living situations.

Recently, attention has been turned to the topic of bullying in the workplace, defined as occurring when bosses and organizational peers bully those whom they perceive as weaker or inferior. Those bullied at work often become perceived as ineffective, thus abrogating their career success and influencing their earning potential. Victims of workplace bullying often change jobs in search of a less hostile environment because organizations are frequently not sensitive to the issue of workplace bullying or are not equipped to deal with it adequately or justly.

From CREDO Bullying in Gale Encyclopedia of Public Health

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