What Are The Different Kinds of Bullying?

Bullying, part 5 of 5
In this final article in a five-part series on bullying, you will learn about different kinds of bullying. For some people, exactly when teasing or playing around crosses the line into bullying is hard to define. However, the difference between playful teasing and bullying is simple. This article defines those boundaries.

When Does Playing Around Cross The Line Into Physical Bullying?

Physical bullying is the most obvious form of bullying. It involves the bully punching, hitting, kicking or otherwise harming the target, or destroying the target’s property. While physical bullying should be obvious, some people take the attitude that it involves kids, just being kids.

However, it is bullying if:

  • The same person is targeted repeatedly.
  • The bully or group of bullies tries to hurt, embarrass or intimidate the victim.
  • There is an imbalance of power, such as when the bully is stronger than the victim or has a higher social standing.


When Does Teasing Become Verbal Bullying?

As with physical bullying, when the same person is targeted repeatedly with the intent to cause harm, teasing crosses the line into bullying. Verbal bullying can cause long-term harm to the people who are targeted whether the comments are made to them directly or made about them behind their back.

What is Emotional Bullying?

Emotional bullying is even more subtle than verbal bullying. Emotional bullying takes place when a person or group of people aim to make an individual feel unsafe, isolated, or insecure. While there are still people who do not take emotional bullying seriously, it is a serious matter. Emotional bullying can contribute to depression or even prompt the individual to consider or attempt suicide.

What Is The Difference Between Flirting And Sexual Bullying?

In The bully, the bullied, and the not-so-innocent bystander, Barbara Coloroso (2015) defines the difference between teasing and taunting, as well as flirting and verbal sexual bullying. She states that flirting:

  • Is an expression of desire that is not intended to cause harm.
  • Allow the people involved to swap roles easily.
  • Is intended to make the other person feel attractive while still being in control.
  • Stops if the other person becomes upset, objects, or is not interested.


According to Coloroso, verbal sexual bullying:

  • Is one-sided.
  • Continues after the target objects.
  • Is based on an imbalance of power.
  • Is intended to harm or exploit the other person.

Sexual bullying is not an invitation to a romantic or sexual experience. It is an attack.

What Is Cyberbullying?

These days, teens don’t only have to worry about being bullied at school or when they leave the house. Bullying can take place in their own home via the Internet. All of the forms of bullying described in this article except physical bullying can take place over the Internet. This includes harassing the target directly or spreading malicious comments about the target behind their back or unwanted sexual messages.


When something crosses the line from teasing into bullying is not difficult to see. Consider what is necessary for the well-being of the target and act accordingly. Adults have a responsibility to help teens shape the kind of world they will live in. By becoming informed, involved, and preventing bullying, adults can help to shape a kinder world.