Schoolyard Bullying Definition Essay

 Defining bullying: a new look at an old concept  

Bullying is an old concept, one that can be traced back to the sixteenth century, if not earlier. Shakespeare has a character, Pistol, hero-worshipping his king, Henry V, with the words, 'I love the lovely bully, I kiss his dirty shoe.' Admiration for the powerful and successful still exists (witness the popularity of the ass-kicking stars of World Wrestling Entertainment). But without doubt the word 'bully' has changed its meaning in more recent years, in response (I believe) to a growing intolerance towards those who continually abuse their power. The term is now being used in a quite different way. And more and more people are giving their attention to the problem of how bullying can be reduced in the community at large, and especially in schools where educating young people about how they should use and not abuse their power has become a matter of vital concern.

I happen to think that much of our work in tackling bullying is hamstrung by arguments and disagreements about how we should define 'bullying.' I hope it may be useful to think about how people have sought to define the word.
Appealing to the widespread, deeply-seated dislike of bullies, Tattum and Tattum (1992) proposed the following definition. "Bullying is the wilful, conscious desire to hurt another and put him/her under stress" Thus bullying was conceived as a desire (Rigby, 2012). Anybody who wants to hurt somebody - and knows it - is then, by definition, a bully. The inadequacy of this formulation becomes evident when you ask people whether they ever feel like hurting somebody. In fact, at some time or other, almost everybody admits that they do. And of course many of those harbouring ill-will do not express their desires in action. They commonly think better of it. They do not bully. Yet this definition is a popular one, endorsed at one time by the Scottish Council for Educational Research.

As long as we are thinking about malign bullying, which is, for the most part, what concerns educators, we can reasonably think of "a wilful conscious desire to hurt another and put him/her under stress" as a necessary but not sufficient condition underlying bullying. Later writers have conceived bullying as a kind of behaviour characterised by intentionality and hurtfulness. The leading figure in the crusade against bullying, Dan Olweus (1993), defined bullying as "negative behaviour" by which he meant behaviour intended to inflict "injury or discomfort." Typically, we may add, such behaviour is repeated during successive encounters.
The means by which people bully have been frequently described and categorised. They include both physical and psychological means. The "injury or discomfort" may be delivered or induced directly by a blow, an insult or offensive gesture or indirectly through spreading rumours, social manipulation or exclusion.

In the listing of actions by which bullying may carried out, there is a danger that the behaviour itself be seen as bullying, regardless of its motivation or the social context in which it occurs. This is not so. For example, a blow may be struck in self-defence; an infant may be excluded from an activity because it is dangerous for someone so young. We must remind ourselves that bullying is behaviour intended to hurt and is typically repeated over time.

For some this is where the story ends. We have defined bullying. Then someone asks an awkward question: "Is it bullying when two people of equal strength have the occasional fight or quarrel ?" Maybe not. We may think that fighting and quarrelling are undesirable, especially in a school where we would like order to prevail. We may well think that the antagonists do sincerely want to hurt each other, but is this bullying ? To accommodate this difficulty, Olweus suggested that bullying occurs only when there is an "imbalance of power." The aggressor or group of aggressors are more powerful in some way than the person they are targeting. This suggestion has been adopted by most (not all) subsequent writers. But it does raise the difficult question of how assess differences in power that are relevant to bullying.

In fact, little attention has been given to this question. An imbalance is obvious enough when a bully towers over a cowering victim or a group of bullies abuse a solitary individual. But what we are inclined to call bullying often seems to occur between people for whom the nature or basis for the power differential is really obscure. If we listen carefully we may discover that one of them has the sharper tongue with a better command of language, argument or invective; that one of them can call upon his supporters (and the other knows it); and that one (maybe a Principal) has status and can "pull rank." We may discover hidden vulnerabilities in the victim: a phobia that can be exploited; hopelessness at games; a stammer under pressure; a father who is in prison; a precocious interest in poetry that can be laughed to scorn. We would like to recognise bullying at a glance. Sometimes we can't.

Somebody asks another question: What if the so-called victim deserves what he or she is getting? Perish the thought. But the questioner persists. What if it's a teacher and he's putting the kid through it because he's been playing up in class; or it's a prefect who has been giving a junior a blasting for spoiling somebody's games; or a big kid who has stood enough cheek from his little brother ? Clearly here we have is behaviour intended to put somebody less powerful under stress. Are there times when being forceful is not bullying ?
The question deserves to be asked; the answer hard to give. What is seen as justified at one time and in one place may not be seen that way at another. For much of human history, slavery - perhaps the most unjustified of human bullying - prevailed unquestioned; in Victorian England senior boys in Boarding Schools were allocated fags to do with much as they pleased, and remnants of this antiquated system still persist in our more privileged private schools. Teachers who caned were once simply dong their job; now he or she is a bully. We need to recognise that the criteria that determine how power and authority should be exercised are constantly changing. So too must be our conception of what is bullying.

There are two further considerations that may help us to identify bullying. One of these focuses on the feelings of the target of aggression. This is the sense of oppression that the victim of bullying invariably feels. In fact, one influential writer in this field, the English criminologist, David Farrington (1993) saw "oppression" as central to what bullying is. His definition: Bullying is "repeated oppression, psychological or physical, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person". What is happening is invariably seen by the victim as hard to bear as well as being unjust. It does not follow, of course, that the victim's judgement is sound. An unsympathetic critic may see some justification for the "oppression." The practical point is that one should always listen first to what the victim has to say. A sense of being oppressed is a necessary but not sufficient indicator of whether bullying is taking place.

The second consideration requires that we focus on the bully. Normally one would expect a sense of triumph or pleasure at achieving the desired effect of causing, in Olweus's terms, injury or discomfort. In the case of the malign bully, one would be surprised if the perpetrator is not pleased when he or she has reduced a victim to tears. But even here one has to be careful. The immediate gratification felt by a bully may give way, in time, to a sense of remorse.

We are now in a position to offer a tentative description of what constitutes bullying, more especially of the kind we might call malign.
Bullying involves a desire to hurt + hurtful action + a power imbalance + (typically) repetition + an unjust use of power + evident enjoyment by the aggressor and a sense of being oppressed on the part of the victim. (Rigby,2002).
How can this formulation help? In the first place, it warns us against a too simplistic a view of what bullying is. We will be less inclined to think that to counter bullying we must believe in the perfectibility of the human race. In the light of the conspicuous failure of organised religion over thousands of years to root out the desire to hurt, this target may be rather ambitious. Secondly, it helps us to focus upon a sub-category of aggressive behaviour which almost everyone abhors: the unjust use of force by more powerful persons or groups. We should remind ourselves that what appears "justified" is constantly shifting. If we are to understand and help we need to be cautious in appraising just where differences in power lie. The imbalances may be subtle. Finally, it suggests that we should monitor the emotional reactions of the perpetrator - remember that exultation can change to remorse; and also tune in to the feelings of being oppressed that victims invariably feel, often, but not always, with strong justification.

Farrington, D.P. (1993). Understanding and preventing bullying. In M.Tonny and N. Morris (Eds ). Crime and Justice, Vol 17, Chicago: University of Chicago Press.
Olweus, D. (1993) Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell.
Tattum, D and Tattum, E. (1992) Social Education and Personal Development. London,: David Fulton.
Rigby,K (2002) New perspectives on bullying. London: Jessica Kingsley.
Rigby, K. (2012) Bullying in Schools: Addressing Desires, Not Only Behaviours. Educational Psychology Review, 24, 339-348.



Table of Contents

Essay Hook
Thesis Statement
Body of Essay
Works Cited

Bullying can be a difficult topic to tackle. That is why this bullying essay will help offer an idea of what will comprise a good paper and what potential areas of research to cover within this controversial and popular subject. From developing a good thesis, carrying it throughout body paragraphs, and closing with a brief and concise conclusion, this essay will show what to do to obtain a high grade. The first step before the thesis, the body, and the conclusion, is a unique and informative introduction. This will help lead to an idea of where to start the paper and when all is finished, an abstract can be created, thus putting a successful end to any writing project.


Understanding a Bully

What Makes Others Bully?

Bullying: The Need to Control

Identifying the Four Common Types of Bullying


Verbal Bullying

Relational Bullying

Physical Bullying

Cyber Bullying


I.  Introduction

II.  Body

A.  What is Bullying – Definition

B.  Types of Bullying – relational, verbal, physical

C.  Cyberbullying

D.  Effects of Bullying

III.  Conclusion


Bullying is an ongoing problem that affects people as children and adults. To stop bullying, people need to understand the various ways to bully and why bullying exists. Bullying makes those that do it feel powerful and look ‘cool’ to others. Yet, bullying can create immense suffering for the victims, sometimes leading to death. This essay covers four types of bullying: relational, verbal, physical, and cyberbullying. It also covers briefly the effects of bullying by providing examples of real bully cases.

Title:  Identifying the Four Common Types of Bullying


Essay Hook:  Bullying has lead to the suicides of several American youths.

Kids and adults alike have talked about bullying and their experiences. From coworkers acting too aggressively to kids in class being mean, bullying is a common occurrence that has been portrayed in movies, books, and shows to several generations. Although many think they have a good idea of what constitutes bullying, many do not know the various forms of bullying. People can be bullied verbally, physically, online, and in relationships. Intimate partners, friends, and family members can be bullies.

Thesis Statement

The four different types of bullying that will be discussed in this essay are relational, verbal, physical, and cyberbullying; these types of bullying are often difficult to identify and in covering these topics, it will provide a deeper understanding of bullying and its potential negative impact on both the bully and the person bullied.

What is Bullying

Bullying is defined as hurtful, mean behavior happening continually in any relationship that has an imbalance of strength or power (Zins, Elias, Maher, & Wiggins, 2007). It can take on several forms. These forms may often seem similar. It is important to distinguish each one and understand how they impact a person on the receiving end of the bullying.

Bullying can consist of direct or indirect bullying. “Direct bullying refers to face-to-face physical or verbal confrontations, while indirect bullying is usually described as less visible harm-doing, such as spreading rumors and social exclusion” (Zins, Elias, Maher, & Wiggins, 2007, p. 11). Those that experience direct bullying may be verbally or physically assaulted. Those that experience indirect bullying may be gossiped about. Regardless, direct or indirect bullying can have profoundly negative and long-lasting effects on the person bullied.

Types of Bullying

The first form of bullying is relational bullying and is considered indirect bullying. Relational bullying means bullying with exclusionary tactics, involving deliberate prevention of someone being/joining part of a group (Macklem, 2010). This could be at a game, social activity, or lunch table. A good example of this is when a group of boys at baseball practice decide to go to a fast food place to eat. One person is left to the side, ignored, treated as though he was invisible. Making people feel excluded from a group can lead to feelings of worthlessness and depression.

People suffering from relational bullying may experience mood changes, turn to isolating themselves, or withdraw from peer groups altogether. Although relational bullying can happen with either gender, girls experience this form of bullying more than boys, especially in certain age ranges. “Between eight and eleven years of age, girls continue to use more and more relational aggression. They appear to be choosing the form of aggression that is most hurtful to others, and the type of aggression that is most tolerated by the peer group” (Macklem, 2010, p. 42). Relational bullying does not simply mean excluding someone. It may also entail spreading rumors, sharing secrets and breaking confidences, and recruiting peers to share in the dislike of a target. This form of social manipulation is quite common in grade school and can frequently happen up to middle school.

Bullies that partake in relational bullying may do so to feel power over others and over their intended target. They may dislike the bullying victim and so feel the need to encourage others to dislike the victim as well. Relational bullying also helps a person increase his or her social status among his or her peers. By that person putting someone else down or making someone else look bad, that person looks better in comparison.

The next form of bullying is verbal and is an example of direct bullying. Although there is no evidence of harm done as seen with physical bullying, those that experience verbal bullying state they develop traumatic memories from such events. “Verbal bullying usually takes the form of name-calling, taunting, interrupting, teasing, joking or threatening, intimidating, and humiliating. Victims of verbal bullies are often shy, have low self-confidence, and are chosen because they don’t have friend to defend them” (Ryan, 2012, p. 7-8). Bullies that verbally bully their victims do so because it makes them feel powerful. Like relational bullies, they may tease someone to improve their own social standing and belong with a group.

Verbal bullying can make a bullying victim depressed, socially withdrawn, and can lead to suicide ideation. Those that are verbally bullied may feel as though they have no one to turn to, to alleviate their situation. The best way to deal with verbal bullying, either as a child or as an adult, it to have confidence and learn self-respect. By people understanding and stressing their own personal boundaries, it may help them avoid dealing with a verbal bully.

The third form of bullying is physical. It is direct bullying and is easier to notice than other forms of bullying. Some people assume physical bullying is the most common type of bullying. However, evidence suggests it is the least common. “Many adults characterize most bullying as being physical, but this is a myth. In truth, physical bullying comprises the minority of bullying activity. Both boys and girls much more commonly experience verbal, social, and educational bullying” (Heinrichs & Myles, 2003, p. 25). People experiencing physical bullying are generally physically weaker than the bullies picking on them. They also tend to demonstrate a lack of an assertive personality.

An example of physical bullying is when a kid kicks or scratches another kid one day, and the next day pulls his or her pants down. This repeated act of aggression and physical violence constitutes physical bullying. Physical bullying can lead to potentially serious consequences for the victim such as permanent injury, disability, or even death.

One example of physical bullying that lead to death was the story of Bailey, a 12-year-old male honor student. He was hit in the head several times and experienced seizures that put him in a coma. “Bailey suffered a concussion, broken nose and other injuries when two boys jumped him in recess – one pushing him and the other landing the blows. He started suffering violent seizures causing doctors to put him in a medical coma” (Davies, 2013). Bailey died a short time after, from his injuries.

Physical bullying can be difficult to stop. Measures that can be taken involve gathering evidence and contacting law enforcement. People should never have to endure physical bullying and must be dealt with accordingly. Why physical bullying exists is varied.

Often physical bullies attack their victims because they experience some form of abuse. They may do so simply because they can. Or, they may be peer pressured into attacking a bully victim. Regardless of the reasons, physical bullying is a dangerous form of bullying that should be handled with the proper authorities in order to avoid additional problems from arising.


The final form of bullying is cyberbullying. While cyberbullying may be seen as indirect bullying, it can also take on a form of direct bullying due to harassing behaviors like insults and written attacks being sent online. A person can anonymously blackmail someone, post degrading and offensive posts on various social media platforms, and start pages making fun of a person’s looks. Cyberbullying has become a major issue and has led to the deaths of several teens in the last decade. One notable example is Amanda Todd.

Amanda Todd was a teenage girl who committed suicide because of an anonymous man who harassed her for years, posting topless pictures of Todd for her classmates to see. Aside from being tormented online, she was also physically assaulted by the girlfriend of the boy she slept with and was rushed to the hospital afterward for drinking bleach. Todd made a short video on YouTube detailing her suffering. “On September 7, 2012, Amanda Todd posts a video on YouTube entitled “My Story: Struggling, Bullying, Suicide and Self Harm”. Using queue cards she tells her story of the cyber-bullying she has been exposed to for a long period of time” (Hendricks & Hansen, 2014, p. 17). A month later, in October of 2012 Todd hung herself in her home.

Amanda Todd is just one of dozens of teenage girls and boys on the news that killed themselves because of cyberbullying. It is a serious problem facing today’s youth. How to spot the signs of someone being cyberbullied is if the person spends more time online, appearing anxious or sad afterward. Another is if the person being bullied has difficulty sleeping, wants to stay home, and withdraws from activities he or she used to enjoy. Bullies that engage in this form of bullying do so because it is instant, gratifying, and can be done anonymously. If people wish to combat cyberbullying, they must limit the time the person bullied has online and print out any evidence that could lead to a possible arrest or actions against a cyberbully.

Effects of Bullying

Those that experience bullying may feel the need to commit suicide. They may become bullies themselves as bullying can make a person with low self-esteem feel important and strong. “The main attraction of bullying is that it enhances the bully’s self-image, which is likely to be particularly important for pupils who have a low self-esteem” (Kyriacou, 2003, p. 20). Victims of bullying can develop trust issues with others and have problems socializing. Whatever happened to the victim can then translate to problems in that person’s life from altered performance in school to experiencing mental and physical health problems (Kyriacou, 2003). Bullying can and does have a profound and deep impact on the psyche of the victim.


In conclusion, bullying is a complex issue. It has various forms. Verbal and physical bullying are direct forms of bullying that involve teasing or hitting a bullying victim. Relational and cyberbullying are indirect forms of bullying that consist of isolating someone from a social group or harassing them online. Whatever the form of bullying, it can deeply affect the person bullied. Many that are bullied commit suicide. The ones that do not commit suicide have an altered view of the world. To stop bullying, it is important to recognize the signs, to make bullying a thing of the past, not the present or future.

Works Cited

Davies, K. (2013, March 6). Bailey O’Neill: Boy who died after schoolyard bully attack was punched 3 times in the face and refused to hit back | Daily Mail Online. Retrieved from

Heinrichs, R., & Myles, B. S. (2003). Perfect targets: Asperger syndrome and bullying ; practical solutions for surviving the social world. Shawnee Mission, Kan: Autism Asperger Pub.

Hendricks, V. F., & Hansen, P. G. (2014). Infostorms: How to Take Information Punches and Save Democracy. Cham.

Kyriacou, C. (2003). Helping troubled pupils. Cheltenham: Nelson Thornes.

Macklem, G. L. (2010). Bullying and teasing: Social power in children’s groups. New York: Springer.

Ryan, P. K. (2012). Online bullying. New York: Rosen.

Zins, J. E., Elias, M. J., Maher, C. A., & Wiggins, L. (2007). Bullying, victimization, and peer harassment: A handbook of prevention and intervention. Psychology Press.

Tips for Writing

Abstracts should be written last. Once all parts of the essay are constructed, then write the abstract. The abstract is a quick recap of the entire essay that is meant to pique the interest of the reader. Keep that in mind when writing. The same can be said of a thesis. Often the right thesis comes from progress in the topic. Once someone understands what the topic comprises of, it is easier to design a thesis that will help the reader see what is in store in the body of the essay.

The topic of bullying was not so hard to tackle, was it? We hope this bullying essay helps you develop your own amazing and insightful writing. Sure, some tasks can seem daunting, especially if you do not have a guide to help you. But here there are guides and essays that can point you in the right direction. All you need is a little push and some good examples.


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