Bullying has been a common issue for kids throughout their lives in high school.
But with the rise of social media, cyberbullying and heightened pressures of a new age, bullying has been at the center of much discussion and debate. A survey by the Olewus Bullying Prevention Program found that 1 in 6 American kids have been bullied, and it’s something they’re worrying about. Kids actually worry about getting bullied more than they fear ghosts, another survey revealed.
And another recent study by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that the after effects of being bullied can last well into adulthood.
With kids readying to return to school across the nation, here’s a look at some of the different bullies you or your children may encounter this year:
This bully is all about the physical approach: punching, pushing and shoving, although physical bullying is on the decline, according to a University of Washington study. There has been a 33 percent drop in schools from 2011 to 2012. The study also found that 35 percent fewer teachers reported fighting as a problem.
How to handle: The bruiser is all about the physicality, so what might be best would be to avoid this bully at all costs and seek guidance from a teacher or counselor.
Social media’s rise has created a new wave of cyberbullying. In fact, 25 percent of students surveyed by the Cyberbullying Research Center said that they were cyberbullied at some point in their life. But that number has only grown, as 87 percent of young people have reported seeing cyberbullying in their lifetime, according to a McAfee study.
How to handle: Cyberbullying is almost unavoidable given the Internet’s wide reach, but there have been campaigns striking out against it. One 13-year-old, for example, is looking to stop cyberbullying with online alerts, The Huffington Post reported.
The passive-aggressive one
The passive-aggressive bully isn’t as blunt about his or her emotions, but they’re bound to make you worry which comments have hidden meanings. This might be because of built up anger within them, according to recent research, which suggestes that passive-aggressiveness is actually caused by kid’s bottling up their aggression.
How to handle: Dealing with passive-aggressive people is something that even adults have to face. Psychology Today expert Preston Ni suggests not overreacting and keeping things calm. The only way passive-aggressive people get satisfied is by offending, Ni says. So by avoiding the person and not letting them upset you, you’re doing your best to combat them.
The blunt one
This bully is up front and personal. Words of insult come out like wildfire, burning and charring up your emotions. Teens and young kids have always rejected and disrespected each other, according to Good Therapy, a therapy expert website. These insults may or may not include swearing, something that kids are learning about at an earlier age, one study found.
How to handle: Expert Neel Burton of Psychology Today said the easiest way to handle blunt insults and put-downs is by ignoring the insult altogether. Since reactions are something that people can control, not reacting and letting the insult slide away can be the most beneficial in making the bully see how futile their insult was.
The indirect bully
Not all bullying is up front and personal. Some bullies stick to the indirect method, giving out insults through rumors, gossip or just talking, according to nobullying.com, a bullying information website. This type of bully will gossip or mock someone behind their back, or even exclude them from activities.
How to handle: NoBullying.com offers a simple suggestion for this kind of bullying; tell someone about it. Whether it’s a parent, principal or pal, informing someone of what’s going on may cause action and dialogue to occur, bringing everyone together and putting everyone on the same page.
Bullying isn't the only issue. Observing and not saying anything can be nearly as bad for both the non-bullied and bully, research has shown. Observing bullying from afar has been linked to suicidal thoughts in the past, according to research by Brunel University London. Bystanders — those watching the bullying go down without doing anything about it — usually don’t get involved because they believe it’s not their business or that stepping in may hurt their reputation, according to reachout.com, a website advocating for the end of bullying.
How to handle: Slate’s Emily Bazelon asked what people can do to help encourage bystanders to start speaking up for the weaker man. “Bystanders, then, represent a major opportunity: Convert more of them into defenders or allies of the target of bullying, and you could take the sting out of one of childhood’s enduring harms,” Bazelon wrote. So how do you handle the observer? Ask for his or her help and try to get them to step in and say something to stop the bullying from happening.
The social king
It’s not all about preying on the little man when it comes to bullying. A 2011 study by CNN found that some bullies will act out to climb the social ladder. In these instances, bullies will go after the top dog by insulting or belittling them in hopes of taking over the social throne, CNN reported.
How to handle: Much like other researchers have suggested, it might be best to let them try to get to you, but not respond to it. As CNN reported, increased aggression doesn’t actually make someone any more socially popular. So by allowing them to act out aggressively, you may actually be helping your own cause.
The workplace bully
Away from the hallways and far from the playground stands another bully: the workplace bully. This kind of bully is on the rise, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute that found 35 percent of people have been bullied at the office. This person will look to misuse his or her authority, try to intimidate co-workers or even destroy built up relationships formed within the cubicles, according to The Huffington Post.
How to handle: While some have said the workplace bully is a hard one to stop and might not be prevalent, avoiding the workplace bully has helped for many, HuffPost reported. That may be the best strategy, too, since workplace bullying can be contagious, HuffPost reported.
If you’re being bullied, use the resources below for help:
CyberBully Hotline: 1-800-420-1479
Anti-Bullying Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK