June 15th, 2012
One can categorize bullying in many different ways. In our readings, bullies tend to be classified into three different types, which are based on their “weapon” of choice.
This is usually the first type that people think of when they hear the word “bully”. Physical bullies are typically male but can also be female in some cases. The physical bully seeks out smaller targets that are easier to dominate and assert power over. Their targets endure some form of physical violence, ranging from stealing their hat to severe injury.
Insulting, name-calling, intimidation and verbal harassment are all ways psychological bullies torment other people. Their intent is to demean and belittle the other person by attackng their intellect, confidence and self-worth. These bullies are more often female, but of course can also be male in certain cases.
Words, not punches, are the weapon of choice for this category of bully. What they are hoping for is for their target to be noticeably saddened by their comments. They want to make their target feel like they are a lesser human being.
You could say that any type of bullying is emotional, and you would be right. But the distinction between emotional bullying and the other types is that emotional bullies use people’s emotions against them. They take something positive about their target and actually turn it into a weapon – a friendship, a boyfriend or girlfriend, or even their own relationship to the target.
Of course, nothing is ever completely cut and dry. But understanding the different types of bullies may help us understand how they can be stopped. The way they choose to bully is heavily dependent on what they are hoping to get out of it – a sense of power or self-worth, an outlet for pent up rage, jealousy, etc.
For example, targets of psychological bullying may be able to thwart bullies by carrying themselves as very confident and invulnerable to verbal attacks. Displaying no negative reaction may cause the bully to get bored. The problem is, the bully will then find another target for their fulfillment. This is why we need to heal bullies as well as victims.
By learning the different types of bullies, we may learn more about how to help them instead of simply punishing them.