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Bullying is unwanted aggressive behavior by another person or group of people. In bullying, there is always an actual or perceived power imbalance, and the aggression is repeated or is very likely to be repeated. Bullying also includes cyberbullying, a form of aggression that is committed electronically, such as via the Internet, email or mobile devices. People of all ages can be bullied, and bullying can take place at home, at school, or at work. Because of cyberbullying, bullying can happen almost anywhere, anytime.

Bullying is when a person or group shows unwanted aggression towards another person. 1 To be considered bullying, the behavior in question must be aggressive. 2 The behavior must also involve an imbalance of power (eg, physical strength, popularity, access to embarrassing details about a person) and be repetitive, meaning it occurs more than once or is very likely to be repeated. 2

Bullying can be 2 :

  • Physical: punch, hit, kick or push; stealing, concealing or damaging other people's belongings; forcing someone to do things against his or her will
  • Verbal: teasing, calling names, or insulting someone else; threaten another person with physical harm; spreading rumors or false statements about another person
  • Relational: refusing to talk to someone or making them feel left out; encourage other individuals to bully someone

Bullying also includes cyberbullying and bullying at work.

  • Cyberbullying has increased due to the increased use of social media sites, the Internet, email and mobile devices. 3 Unlike more traditional bullying, cyberbullying can be more anonymous and occur almost constantly. 3 A person can be bullied day and night, for example when they check their email, use Facebook or another social networking site, or even when they use a cell phone. 3
  • Workplace bullying refers to behavior of adults that is repeatedly aggressive and uses power over another person in the workplace. 4 Certain laws apply to adults in the workplace to help prevent such violence.

How does bullying affect health and well-being?

Bullying can affect physical and emotional health, both in the short term and later in life. It can lead to physical harm, social problems, emotional problems and even death. 1 Those who are bullied are at an increased risk of mental health problems, headaches, and difficulty adjusting to school. 2 Bullying can also cause long-term damage to self-esteem. 3

Children and adolescents who are bullies are at increased risk for substance use, academic problems and violence towards others later in life. 2

Those who are both bullies and victims of bullying suffer the most severe consequences of bullying and are at greater risk for mental and behavioral problems than those who are bullied alone or who are merely bullies.f = "https://www.nichd.nih.gov/health/topics/bullying/conditioninfo/health#f2"> 2

NICHD studies show that everyone involved in bullying - those who bully others, those who are bullied, and those who are bully and bullied - are at increased risk for depression. 4

NICHD-funded studies have also shown that, unlike traditional forms of bullying, young people who are bullied electronically - such as by computer or cell phone - are at greater risk of depression than those who bully them. 5 Even more astonishingly, the same studies found that cyber victims were at higher risk of depression than cyber bullies or bullies (ie, those who bully others as well as are bullied themselves), which was not found in any other form of bullying. Read more about these findings in the NICHD press release: Depression High Among Youth Victims of School Cyberbullying, NIH Researchers Report .

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