There are many types of bullying, which are categorised into distinct forms:

Direct Bullying:

The most common forms of direct bullying that children and adolescents engage in are verbal attacks, physical aggression or assaults, gestures and extortion and cyber-bullying.

Indirect Bullying:

More covert and anonymous, harder for the victim to identify the bully, forms of indirect bullying include the passing of nasty notes, offensive graffiti, defacing and damaging of personal property.

Relational and Social Bullying:

Relational bullying which can be indirect in nature, can be damaging to peer relationships.  It manifests as the manipulation of social connections or relationships by ignoring, excluding, isolating, passing notes or spreading false information and malicious rumours. This form is more common among girls than boys.

* Cyberbullying due to its removed nature and yet focused methods of application, has aspects of both the direct and indirect associated with it.

The following are the most commonly reported types of bullying

Verbal Bullying:

Studies have shown that verbal bullying is by far the most common form of bullying among both boys and girls. Verbal attacks can be of a highly personal and sexual nature. They can be directed at the child’s family, culture, race or religion. Malicious rumours are particularly insidious forms of verbal bullying. An abusive verbal label or campaign can stick and has the potential to destroy the victim’s sense of well being and follow the victim into adulthood.

Physical Aggression:

Direct physical aggression is the most obvious form of bullying but is often written off as “horseplay”, “pretend” or “just a game” when challenged. While children can and do play roughly, in the case of bullying be aware that these ‘games’ can be a precursor to vicious physical assaults. Both boys and girls indulge in physical bullying, boys perhaps more so as they have a greater tendency towards physical aggression. Forms are numerous and can include pushing, shoving, poking, hair pulling, spitting, biting, scratching, punching, head butting amongst many others.

Gesture Bullying

This form consists of many forms of non-verbal aggressive and threatening gestures, which can convey very intimidating and frightening messages.  Various methods include the ‘dirty/evil look’, the cold stare, the ‘throat slitting’ gesture, and ‘pulling the trigger’.   In addition, where there is a physical or intellectual imbalance a gesture intending to humiliate (e.g. indicating the person is a ‘cripple’ or ‘retarded’) can be applied.

Exclusion Bullying

Exclusion is particularly prevalent among girls, and is particularly hurtful as it isolates the child from his/her peer group.  This form of bullying can be the most difficult to combat, and the post painful for the victim as it directly impacts on the pupils self confidence and self worth, making them feel as f they are not worth knowing.

Extortion Bullying

Young children are particularly vulnerable to extortion bullying. Demands for money, possessions or equipment, lunch vouchers or food may be made, often accompanied by threats if the victim does not give what is demanded. Children may also be dared or forced to steal from the school or join in some anti-social act, leaving them (at the mercy of the bully) open to further intimidation.  Exhorting bad behaviour, which must be carried out in class also puts the victim at risk of punishment from the school as well as fear of reprisals if they confess the truth to their teachers.


Cyberbullying involves the use of electronic devices to carry the abusive and destructive verbal and visual messages.  As mentioned, unlike other types of bullying, cyberbullying can be considered both a direct and indirect form of bullying, in addition, cyberbullying may also be considered to be possibly the most pervasive form of bullying, as unlike other forms of school bullying,  thanks to computers and phones, it can follow the victim into the home.

The most commonly used methods of cyberbullying are:

Text Messaging:

Can also include ‘sexting’ if texts are of a sexual nature.

Instant Messages:

Utilising real-time communication software to send inflammatory or intimidating messages to those on a contact list.

Camera or Video Clips

Includes the sending of humiliating, compromising or degrading photos or movies.

Social Networks

The use of existing social networks (e.g. You Tube, Facebook, Tumblr, AskFM) to post messages or images or create detailed profiles of victims.


Mass emails can be utilised to humiliate, and individual emails to intimidate, and while traceable there is no guarantee that the account holder is the person who sent it.


The creation or devotion of websites given over to the purpose of denigrating or humiliating a person, often by providing personal information, posting or altering photographs, or portraying the individual in a compromising or sexual manner.

Online Chat Rooms

Chat rooms provide the opportunity for people to hide their true identity with the express purpose of humiliating or insulting other members.


* NoteHomophobic & Racist bullying behaviour may occur under any of these types of bullying (e.g. verbal, gesture, cyber) but are not types of bullying in themselves.

Suggested Further Reading & Links

The Essential Guide to Tackling Bullying (2011) Elliot, M.  Prentice Hall. 
Understanding School Bullying (2010)  O’Moore, M. Veritas. Dublin
Understanding Girls Friendships, Fights & Feuds: A Practical Approach to Girls’ Bullying. (2006) Besag, V.E. London. Open University Press.
Άσκηση βίας από μαθητές προς μαθητές στο χώρο του Δημοτικού Σχολείου. (2000). Χαντζή, Χ., Χουντουμάδη, Α. & Πατεράκη, Λ. Παιδί και Έφηβος 1,97‐110.
School Bullying: Insights and Perspectives. (1994). Smith, P. K., & Sharp, S. London: Routledge
Get With It A Guide to Cyberbullying. (2008) Office for Internet Safety. Dublin
Video : Bully For You (2008) Triplevision Productions Ltd. BBC (Northern Ireland).
Video: Silent Witness (2010) Anti Bullying Centre.  Dublin. Ireland.