Emotional Bullying: Definition, Facts & Examples

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  • 0:00 Emotional Bullying Background
  • 1:18 Emotional Bullying Definition
  • 1:56 Emotional Bullying…
  • 2:51 Stopping Emotional Bullying
  • 4:10 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson discusses how emotional bullying (using words to mock, shock, tease, or ostracize another person) is as bad as or worse than physical bullying. How to recognize and stop emotional bullying are also discussed.

Emotional Bullying Background

Working long hours with the same team of guys was boring, so Frank liked to kid around to combat the boredom. He would tease Jerry about going bald or try to see if he could get a rise out of Chet by making comments about Chet's impending divorce. The other guys seemed to take it in stride and laugh it off, but the comments got more hurtful and more vengeful as time went on. It seemed that Frank enjoyed the power he had to make others feel worse about themselves.

Boredom was just an excuse. Frank was continuing a pattern of behavior he had seen and then used to his advantage while in school. Frank's dad was the school janitor, so other kids would tease him about his dad's job. But Frank was a keen observer. He realized how the other kids made him feel, and he started making similar comments when he noticed something embarrassing that someone else wanted to keep a secret. He began using these tactics to deflect the hurt he felt regarding the teasing he was receiving, but his barbs escalated into bullying.

In this scenario, three elements of what is termed ''emotional bullying'' are at work. Frank was bullied by other people, he started bullying to make someone else the target, and he then carried that strategy forward and became an emotional bully as an adult also.

Emotional Bullying Definition

Everyone has heard the childhood sing-song 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.' It's a saying that's been largely disproved when examined by psychologists. While physical bullying often carries scars, both physical and emotional, that may last a long time, emotional bullying can also cause serious harm. Emotional bullying is the use of words to mock, shock, tease, or ostracize another person. While it can have a physical component, that isn't the primary means of bullying in this case. This type of bullying can be even more damaging, in the long run, than physical harm.

Emotional Bullying Long-Term Effects

Physical scars go away over time and people generally learn how to deal with those situations by speaking to an authority figure or by dealing with it themselves in other ways. But emotional scars may take a long time or professional help to heal. If the emotional abuse is long-lasting, it can even lead to extremes, such as suicide. This type of bullying has also been known to cause:

  • Long-term, clinical depression
  • A lack of self-esteem
  • Bad grades in school or poor performance on the job
  • Feelings of isolation
  • Self harm, such as cutting or suicide

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