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Bullying and harassment

Bullying can affect anyone. It can happen at school, in the workplace, in the home or online.

The person who experiences bullying can often feel angry, hurt, humiliated or threatened.

The main types of bullying include:

  • verbal (includes sexual harassment)
  • physical (includes sexual abuse)
  • social
  • psychological
  • cyberbullying (online bullying)

Verbal bullying

Verbal bullying can be face-to-face, written or often over the phone. It includes name-calling, put-downs, slagging, threats and sexual harassment.

Physical bullying

Physical bullying can include being punched, tripped, kicked and having things stolen or damaged. Sexual abuse is also a form of physical bullying.

Social bullying

Social bullying is often one of the hardest types of bullying to identify and deal with.

Social bullying includes being left out, ignored or having rumours spread about you.

Psychological bullying

Psychological bullying can be hard to identify. It is often less direct and can feel like it is in your head. It can include intimidation, dirty looks, stalking, manipulation or unpredictable reactions.


This type of bullying happens online. It can include offensive and abusive messages. It also includes hacking into accounts or spreading rumours online.

Cyberbullying can be difficult to deal with. It can become viral and difficult. You may not know what to do.

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Why bullying happens

People who bully often have low self-esteem.

They use bullying as a way of exerting power to make themselves feel better.

The person bullies as a way to deal with their own problems. It is not because of something you have done.

Finding support when you are bullied

Being bullied can leave you feeling vulnerable and alone.

It can be helpful to talk to someone about what is happening. Speaking to someone can help you feel less alone.

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What to do if you are being bullied

It can help to talk to someone in confidence. You might worry about what will happen. Try to talk to someone who is completely separate from the situation.

page last reviewed: 23/09/2018
next review due: 23/09/2021

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