Understanding the Various Types of Bullying Children Face

Pennsylvania and New Jersey lawyer stands up for kids enduring peer abuse

These days we hear a great deal about bullying in schools and other settings central to the lives of children. Parents and institutions are awakening to the dangers of bullying, but are we doing enough to identify and correct the problem? At The Pagano Law Firm, LLC in Radnor, we seek to hold negligent individuals and institutions accountable for the harm bullying has done to victims in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. But our work usually starts after a child has endured intense torment. If you are a parent, teacher, principal or any other adult who supervises children, your job is to spot the problem before it reaches crisis proportions. Some basic information on bullying can help you avert a potential tragedy.

What is bullying?

Bullying is a broad term for a wide range of harassing behaviors, including verbal and physical abuse, as well as social signaling that singles out the targeted individual. Many bullies use aggressive behavior to  enhance their social standing or feelings of self-worth by demonstrating the ability to intimidate, humiliate, punish, exclude or degrade someone else. Adolescents who bully others often have low self-esteem and many have been bullied or emotionally abused themselves. Some adolescents participate in bullying to avoid being bullied themselves or to share in the perceived elevation of social rank.

Common forms of bullying

Experts in bullying point to four distinct modes:

  • Physical — Aggressive physical contact meant to hurt and/or provoke a larger altercation. Examples include punching, grabbing, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing, as well as damaging property.  
  • Emotional — Without causing direct physical harm, some bullies use verbal or visual tactics to isolate, mock, criticize or scare the targeted individual. Verbal bullying can consist of name-calling, insults, teasing, intimidation and mocking criticism of distinctive characteristics. Emotional bullying frequently targets individuals based on their race, religion, ethnicity and nonconformance related to gender and sexual orientation. It is not uncommon for emotional bullying to escalate into physical abuse.
  • Digital — Commonly known as cyberbullying, this mode utilizes technology to accomplish and magnify emotional bullying. As technology advances, new forms of cyberbullying emerge, such as text messages, social media posts and surreptitiously taken videos and photos used to inflict emotional distress on a targeted person. 
  • Social bullying — Sending verbal or behavioral clues that the targeted person must be ostracized and shamed. Examples include telling malicious lies and spreading hurtful rumors, mocking facial expressions and physical gestures and retaliating against a third-party for maintaining a positive relationship with the targeted person.

There are no bright lines between forms of bullying. Children today often face bullying campaigns on more than one front.

How to address different types of bullying

There are laws against bullying that give citizens the right to file criminal complaints and civil actions. The best first step, after you have determined your child is being bullied, is to discuss the issue with a teacher, principal or anti-bullying coordinator at their school. When the adults who supervise the children take responsible measures to address the problem, many kids come around and correct their behavior. Unfortunately, not all adults will act responsibly, and some bullies are unwilling to yield. If you are met with resistance, rather than assistance, you can contact your Board of Education and a lawyer for bullying victims. It’s a sad reality that it often takes a threat of legal action to spur institutions to correct a problem they’ve allowed to fester. 

Contact a determined Pennsylvania lawyer for a free consultation on bullying liability

The Pagano Law Firm, LLC in Radnor seeks to hold bullies, and those who enable them, accountable in Pennsylvania and New Jersey. Please call 484-318-2561 or contact us online to make an appointment.