Login
Copyright

Emotional Bullying: Definition, Facts & Examples

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson discusses how emotional bullying (using words to mock, shock, tease or ostracize another person), is as bad or worse than physical bullying. How to recognize and stop emotional bullying are also discussed.

A Legacy of Bullying

Working long hours with the same team of guys was boring, so Frank liked to kid around to allay 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.

What is Emotional Bullying?

Everyone has heard the childhood sing-song 'Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me'. It's a missive that has proven untrue 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 (ignore) another person. While it can have a physical component, that is not the primary means of bullying in this case. This type of bullying can be even more damaging, in the long run, than physical harm.

The Long-Term Effects of Emotional Bullying

Physical scars go away over time and people generally learn how to deal with those situations by speaking to someone in authority 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

Emotional bullying may seem relatively harmless, but this type of abuse is becoming more common since people started using social media. It is easier for an individual or a group to single out another person and make them a target. There have been many cases of teens committing suicide due to the isolation and feelings of worthlessness associated with emotional bullying.

Is it Possible to Stop Emotional Bullying?

Most people would say that Frank wasn't a bad guy; he just liked to have fun at other people's expense. But the fact is, his actions could cause someone else to lose focus at work or to become depressed. Whether at school or on the job, emotional bullying can be stopped by:

To unlock this lesson you must be a Study.com Member.
Create your account

Register for a free trial

Are you a student or a teacher?
I am a teacher

Unlock Your Education

See for yourself why 30 million people use Study.com

Become a Study.com member and start learning now.
Become a Member  Back

Earning College Credit

Did you know… We have over 95 college courses that prepare you to earn credit by exam that is accepted by over 2,000 colleges and universities. You can test out of the first two years of college and save thousands off your degree. Anyone can earn credit-by-exam regardless of age or education level.

To learn more, visit our Earning Credit Page

Transferring credit to the school of your choice

Not sure what college you want to attend yet? Study.com has thousands of articles about every imaginable degree, area of study and career path that can help you find the school that's right for you.

Create an account to start this course today
Try it free for 5 days!
Create An Account
Support