Bullying – Know what it is

Recognize bullying and know the warning signs.

24-hour help

Call 911 if you or someone you know is in immediate danger.

Bullying Helpline – Call 310-1818 or text 310-1818 or chat online for support, information or referrals.

What is bullying

Bullying can happen to anyone. It is repeated mean, cruel, hurtful behaviours done on purpose by someone with more power. There are 4 types of bullying: verbal, physical, social and cyber.

Verbal bullying includes behaviours such as:

  • name-calling, insults and put-downs
  • teasing or taunting
  • threatening
  • making or telling jokes that shame or humiliate someone
  • making racist, sexist or homophobic comments
  • harassing using sexualized language

Physical bullying includes behaviours such as:

  • hitting, slapping or punching
  • pushing or kicking
  • grabbing or choking
  • spitting
  • making obscene gestures
  • froshing or hazing
  • stealing or damaging property

Social/relational bullying includes behaviours such as:

  • gossiping or spreading rumours
  • ganging up on someone
  • leaving someone out
  • ignoring or denying someone’s accomplishments
  • keeping someone away from their friends or peers

Cyberbullying includes behaviours such as:

  • sending mean or hurtful content through texts, email or social media
  • taking embarrassing pictures of someone and sharing them online without their permission
  • using someone else’s account and sending hurtful content while pretending to be them
  • creating online polls to rate people in demeaning or hurtful ways

What is not bullying

Bullying behaviours are often mistaken for other behaviours. Bullying is repeated, intentionally mean and based on a power imbalance. These types of behaviours are not bullying: teasing, conflict, rudeness or meanness.

Teasing happens when:

  • both sides are having fun and enjoying being with one another
  • their words and behaviour are affectionate and not aggressive

Conflict happens:

  • between people of equal power
  • when they have a disagreement that can be positive or negative, but there is no intent to harm others

Rudeness happens:

  • when someone hurts another person’s feelings without intending to
  • once in a while

Meanness happens:

  • when someone intends to hurt another person’s feelings
  • once in a while

Know the warning signs

People affected by bullying may cope differently. Some of the common warning signs include:

Adults may

  • feel helpless, vulnerable, stressed or frightened
  • express irritability, agitation, anger or frustration
  • feel alone, embarrassed or ashamed
  • start eating or sleeping too much or too little
  • use alcohol or drugs to cope
  • have physical symptoms like stomach pains or headaches
  • miss or lose interest in work, school or social activities
  • experience increased family tension and stress
  • become depressed or uncertain about themselves
  • have suicidal thoughts

Children and youth may

  • be afraid to go to school or complain about feeling ill to avoid attending school
  • skip school
  • have poorer performance at school
  • lose belongings or come home with clothes or books destroyed
  • come home, or arrive at school with unexplained bruises or cuts
  • have physical symptoms like stomach pains or headaches
  • have nightmares
  • become depressed or uncertain about themselves
  • become withdrawn or begin to bully other children
  • engage in self-harm
  • attempt or talk about suicide

If someone you know is experiencing bullying, find out how to help them.