What is Bullying and Harassment?

Actions meant to hurt someone’s feelings or devalue them are bullying/harassing behaviors. Bullying is a form of harassment. “Bullying/harassment” refers to behaviors such as saying hurtful things to someone about their appearance or ability, posting disrespectful comments about someone online, hurting someone by physical actions, or treating someone badly or making a point of excluding them because of who they are. Such behaviors are often directed repeatedly against the same person or group, and they can happen on or off school grounds. Bullying/harassment is not accidental. Although some students may feel pressured by their peers to bully or harass someone, they are still participating in behavior that is meant to hurt or upset another person or group of people. Different forms and types of bullying/harassment are described below.

Forms That Bullying/Harassment Might Take

pushing, tripping, hitting
damaging or stealing someone’s property

name-calling, hurtful teasing
insulting, humiliating, or threatening someone

excluding someone from “the group” or from an activity
gossiping or spreading rumors about someone
making someone look foolish
making someone look foolish
making sure others don’t associate with someone
displaying images or materials that are offensive or disrespectful

using the Internet or a cell phone to e-mail or send text messages or pictures in order to threaten someone or hurt their feelings, single them out, embarrass them, or make them look bad, or spread rumors or reveal secrets about them

treating someone badly because of their culture, racial or ethnic background, or the color of their skin
saying negative things about someone’s race, culture, ethnic background, or skin color
calling someone by a racially or ethnically disrespectful term
telling racist jokes

touching, grabbing, or pinching someone in a sexual way
spreading sexual rumors about someone
making sexual comments or jokes about someone's body
directing unwanted sexual attention or advances towards someone

Gender Role–based
treating someone badly because of their gender identity
making hurtful comments or making a joke about someone based on gender stereotypes, such as telling a girl she cannot play a sport because she is a girl or calling a boy a “sissy” because he has a hobby you think only girls should have

calling someone “gay”, “fag”, “lesbian”, “dyke”, or something similar in a way meant to upset them
making crude comments or spreading rumors about someone’s actual or perceived sexual identity
disrespecting someone who is attracted to members of the same sex or of both sexes
disrespecting someone for their choice of activities, hobbies, or clothing
making fun of someone whose parents are lesbian or gay

treating someone badly because of their religion
saying negative things about someone’s religion
making jokes about someone’s religion

treating someone badly because of a disability they have – for example, making jokes about a person who uses a wheelchair (visible disability) or calling a person names because he or she learns in a different way than you do (invisible disability) – or spreading rumors about someone because of a disability you think that person may have
making someone feel left out because of a disability they have (visible or invisible) or a disability you think they may have

treating someone badly because of the type of housing or the neighborhood they live in
spreading rumors about someone based on stereotypes about being “poor”
making jokes about someone because they do not appear to have a lot of money (e.g., because they may not have name-brand clothing, or because of where they live)