Bullying is unwanted and aggressive behavior that happens repeatedly and involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. The power imbalance usually involves someone using physical strength, greater popularity or embarrassing or humiliating information to control or harm another person.
Bullying can take many forms. It can be done with words, including repeated teasing, name-calling, threats and inappropriate sexual comments. It can be done through social interactions, repeatedly and intentionally excluding someone from a group, telling others not to be friends with someone or spreading rumors and embarrassing a targeted person in public. Hurting another person physically or vandalizing possessions is also a form of bullying.
Bullying can take place in school, on the bus, in neighborhoods and, increasingly on electronic devices. Cyber bullying on the Internet gives some a sense of security because they are able to hide behind a computer screen. Because people communicate regularly through cell phones and computers, bullying messages, photos and other information can quickly "go viral" throughout the Internet.
Bullies target peers whom they often see as different, alone, or in some way weak. In the long run, bullying not only hurts those who are bullied, but also those who witness it, and the bullies themselves. It can destroy self-esteem and damage their ability to function in adulthood.
What can be done about it? In safe circumstances, standing up or speaking out against bullying behavior when it occurs can rob the bully of much of his/her power.
From the National Association on Mental Illness (NAMI).
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