6 Types of Bullying Your Teen May Encounter

Types of Bullying and What to Know This Bullying Prevention Month - Paradigm Treatment Centers

One in five children is bullied, and this Bullying Prevention Month, look out for these common types of bullying.

No parent wants to think that their teen is bullying others, but the fact is that some teens do engage in bullying behaviors – and in fact, sometimes teens that have been bullied in the past or are currently being bullied take out their frustrations by bullying other teens.

And bullying doesn’t always look the way that parents think that it looks… there are many types of bullying that kids may encounter, and it’s important to know them.

Common Types of Bullying

The month of October is National Bullying Prevention Month, so we are doing our part by discussing the main types of bullying seen by kids.

Not all bullying is physical bullying, and it’s important to know the signs of other bullying.

Take a look at what you need to know about the different types of bullying and find out if you recognize any of these behaviors in your own teenager.

1. Physical Bullying

When parents, teachers, and other adults think of bullying, physical bullying is usually what they think of. It’s the most noticeable and easily identifiable form of bullying. Physical bullying occurs when one person uses their superior strength, size, or aggression to physically abuse another.

Physical bullies may kick, punch, slap, shove, or hit their targets.

Not only is physical bullying easy to identify when it happens but it also tends to leave evidence in the form of;

  • Bruises
  • Cuts
  • Scrapes
  • Torn or damaged clothing

Because physical bullying is hard to miss, it often gets more attention than other types of bullying behavior. Unfortunately, too much focus on physical bullying can lead adults to miss other types of bullying behavior.

Physical bullying can be dangerous, and putting a stop to it should be a priority, but not at the expense of overlooking other types of bullying.

2. Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying isn’t as immediately visible as physical bullying, but it does get a lot of attention, thanks in part to a number of high-profile cases that attracted widespread attention and raised awareness of the issue.

As with physical bullying, cyberbullying often leaves evidence behind – in this case, in the form of archives, screenshots, and browser history.

Cyberbullying can consist of many different things:

  • Posting hurtful images
  • Making threats
  • Posing as the victim in order to embarrass them
  • Posing as someone else to trick or hurt their target
  • Revealing private information or images on a public forum

Sometimes a cyberbully operates alone, but in other cases, groups of cyberbullies go after one target. The internet can empower people who might not ever think of bullying in another way to act out because it’s as easy as clicking a mouse. Cyberbullying is also particularly damaging because of how invasive it is.

Today’s teens have smartphones or other mobile devices with them nearly constantly, which means that cyberbullies can reach them in what would otherwise be safe spaces, like their own homes.

Types of Bullying Treatment Needed During Bullying Prevention Week - Paradigm Treatment Centers

3.  Verbal Bullying

Verbal bullying is what it sounds like – it occurs when the bully uses hurtful language to intimidate their victim. This can include anything from name-calling and taunts to outright threats.

This type of bullying is much more difficult to catch than physical bullying, as most bullies know not to engage in verbal bullying when adults are within earshot. This means that it’s up to the victim to report the bullying, and even when they do, it’s difficult for anyone to verify their story.

What’s more, victims of verbal bullying often find that even if they’re believed, their concerns are dismissed or minimized.

Generations that grew up reciting, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me,” have a tendency to mistakenly believe that verbal abuse isn’t that serious and may advise victims to simply ignore it or get over it.

However, the reality is that verbal bullying can cause serious emotional harm and even PTSD,  and it should be taken seriously when it happens.

4. Prejudicial Bullying

Prejudicial bullying is bullying that arises out of the prejudices of the bully. These bullies harass their victims because of things such as:

  • Race
  • Religion
  • Sexual orientation

They may use any other type of bullying, like physical bullying or verbal bullying as a method, but their motive is based on prejudice.

There are many reasons why prejudicial bullying is a problem, but one thing that parents should be aware of if their teen is engaging in prejudicial bullying behavior is that some types of bullying could cross the legal line into hate crimes, with the accompanying serious legal consequences.

5. Sexual Bullying

Sexual bullying encompasses physical, verbal, and cyber actions that are intended to target the victim sexually. That can include:

  • Crude language and name-calling
  • Unwanted sexual advances
  • Slut-shaming
  • Inappropriate touching
  • Sharing of explicit images or videos online.

Girls are common targets of sexual bullying both by boys and by other girls. Boys who are perceived as being gay or overly feminine are also frequent targets of sexual bullies.

Sexual bullying can be difficult to spot because victims often don’t want to report it, for fear of further embarrassing exposure or fear of being accused of being at fault or complicit in their own victimization.Contact Us for Bullying Treatment - Paradigm Treatment Centers

6. Relational Bullying

Of all the different types of bullying, relational bullying is probably the most difficult type of bullying for adults and authority figures to spot.

Relational bullying refers to a type of social manipulation that can involve ostracization from a group, hurtful or unfounded gossip, and lies or betrayals of confidence intended to increase the bully’s social status at the expense of the social status of the victim.

This behavior occurs most often with girls in their tweens and early teens. However, it’s not limited to those groups and can sometimes be seen occurring in workplace environments among adults.

Because relational bullying tends to rely on sneaky, backhand behavior, it’s often hard for victims to lay out a clear case that they’re suffering, or even necessarily identify the primary bully. Adults and others outside of the social circle that the victim and bully inhabit can often fail to see any problem at all.


Parents and adults need to take all types of bullying seriously.

Teens who display bullying behaviors are often suffering in some way themselves and can benefit from counseling or therapy to uncover their underlying issues and learn healthier ways to cope.

If your teen needs teen bullying treatment, contact us today.


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Common Questions About Bullying

What Are Common Types of Bullying?

There are six common types of bully behavior that teens see: physical bullying, cyberbullying, verbal bullying, prejudicial bullying, sexual bullying, and relational bullying.

What is National Bullying Prevention Month?

National Bullying Prevention Month occurs during the month of October where individuals unite to protect our youth from bullying. 

How Can You Support Your Bullied Teen?

Look for signs that your teen is being bullied and if they are, reach out for help. In providing teen bullying treatment, we work with teens to help them uncover and examine the different ways which the negative behaviors have affected them. 


A Note From Our Founder, Dr. Jeff Nalin on Bullying