8 types of bullies and how to handle them

Compiled by Herb Scribner, Deseret News National Edition

Published: Thu, Aug. 14, 2014, 8:55 a.m. MDT

 Bullies are everywhere and they all have different strategies. So how do you tackle them?

Bullies are everywhere and they all have different strategies. So how do you tackle them?

(omgimages, Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Bullying has been a common issue for kids throughout their lives in high school.

But with the rise of social media, cyberbullying and heightened pressures of a new age, bullying has been at the center of much discussion and debate. A survey by the Olewus Bullying Prevention Program found that 1 in 6 American kids have been bullied, and it’s something they’re worrying about. Kids actually worry about getting bullied more than they fear ghosts, another survey revealed.

And another recent study by the American Journal of Psychiatry found that the after effects of being bullied can last well into adulthood.

With kids readying to return to school across the nation, here’s a look at some of the different bullies you or your children may encounter this year:

The bruiser

This bully is all about the physical approach: punching, pushing and shoving, although physical bullying is on the decline, according to a University of Washington study. There has been a 33 percent drop in schools from 2011 to 2012. The study also found that 35 percent fewer teachers reported fighting as a problem.

How to handle: The bruiser is all about the physicality, so what might be best would be to avoid this bully at all costs and seek guidance from a teacher or counselor.

The cyberbully

Social media’s rise has created a new wave of cyberbullying. In fact, 25 percent of students surveyed by the Cyberbullying Research Center said that they were cyberbullied at some point in their life. But that number has only grown, as 87 percent of young people have reported seeing cyberbullying in their lifetime, according to a McAfee study.

How to handle: Cyberbullying is almost unavoidable given the Internet’s wide reach, but there have been campaigns striking out against it. One 13-year-old, for example, is looking to stop cyberbullying with online alerts, The Huffington Post reported.

The passive-aggressive one

The passive-aggressive bully isn’t as blunt about his or her emotions, but they’re bound to make you worry which comments have hidden meanings. This might be because of built up anger within them, according to recent research, which suggestes that passive-aggressiveness is actually caused by kid’s bottling up their aggression.

How to handle: Dealing with passive-aggressive people is something that even adults have to face. Psychology Today expert Preston Ni suggests not overreacting and keeping things calm. The only way passive-aggressive people get satisfied is by offending, Ni says. So by avoiding the person and not letting them upset you, you’re doing your best to combat them.

The blunt one

This bully is up front and personal. Words of insult come out like wildfire, burning and charring up your emotions. Teens and young kids have always rejected and disrespected each other, according to Good Therapy, a therapy expert website. These insults may or may not include swearing, something that kids are learning about at an earlier age, one study found.

How to handle: Expert Neel Burton of Psychology Today said the easiest way to handle blunt insults and put-downs is by ignoring the insult altogether. Since reactions are something that people can control, not reacting and letting the insult slide away can be the most beneficial in making the bully see how futile their insult was.

The indirect bully

Not all bullying is up front and personal. Some bullies stick to the indirect method, giving out insults through rumors, gossip or just talking, according to nobullying.com, a bullying information website. This type of bully will gossip or mock someone behind their back, or even exclude them from activities.

How to handle: NoBullying.com offers a simple suggestion for this kind of bullying; tell someone about it. Whether it’s a parent, principal or pal, informing someone of what’s going on may cause action and dialogue to occur, bringing everyone together and putting everyone on the same page.

The observer

Bullying isn't the only issue. Observing and not saying anything can be nearly as bad for both the non-bullied and bully, research has shown. Observing bullying from afar has been linked to suicidal thoughts in the past, according to research by Brunel University London. Bystanders — those watching the bullying go down without doing anything about it — usually don’t get involved because they believe it’s not their business or that stepping in may hurt their reputation, according to reachout.com, a website advocating for the end of bullying.

How to handle: Slate’s Emily Bazelon asked what people can do to help encourage bystanders to start speaking up for the weaker man. “Bystanders, then, represent a major opportunity: Convert more of them into defenders or allies of the target of bullying, and you could take the sting out of one of childhood’s enduring harms,” Bazelon wrote. So how do you handle the observer? Ask for his or her help and try to get them to step in and say something to stop the bullying from happening.

The social king

It’s not all about preying on the little man when it comes to bullying. A 2011 study by CNN found that some bullies will act out to climb the social ladder. In these instances, bullies will go after the top dog by insulting or belittling them in hopes of taking over the social throne, CNN reported.

How to handle: Much like other researchers have suggested, it might be best to let them try to get to you, but not respond to it. As CNN reported, increased aggression doesn’t actually make someone any more socially popular. So by allowing them to act out aggressively, you may actually be helping your own cause.

The workplace bully

Away from the hallways and far from the playground stands another bully: the workplace bully. This kind of bully is on the rise, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute that found 35 percent of people have been bullied at the office. This person will look to misuse his or her authority, try to intimidate co-workers or even destroy built up relationships formed within the cubicles, according to The Huffington Post.

How to handle: While some have said the workplace bully is a hard one to stop and might not be prevalent, avoiding the workplace bully has helped for many, HuffPost reported. That may be the best strategy, too, since workplace bullying can be contagious, HuffPost reported.

If you’re being bullied, use the resources below for help:

CyberBully Hotline: 1-800-420-1479

Anti-Bullying Hotline: 1-800-273-TALK


Email: hscribner@deseretdigital.com, Twitter: @herbscribner

1. mufasta
American Fork, UT,
Aug. 14, 2014

I agree with a few aspects of the article. It sounds like an invitation for people to blame others whenever they feel inadequate in some way. There is far to much of the "blame the other guy" attitude in our society today. It seems that this silent and insidious trend is more prevalent and damaging to our society than bullying. Perhaps you should pen an article on that.

2. Utexmom
Flower Mound, TX,
Aug. 14, 2014

Bullying is real, and needs to be addressed today. However, this article falls into the category of "knowing just enough to be dangerous". There is so much more information needed in each category. One must study it deeper to obtain real knowledge that would be helpful. A truly passive aggressive person is rarely a victim, but makes dishonest choices designed to help him/herself at the expense of others.

3. Seronac
Orem, UT,
Aug. 15, 2014

While the article gives some good advice, sometimes the best rememdy is to stand up for oneself, either by fighting back (literally or verbally) or by publicly scolding the bully. Wisdom is knowing when to do so, and when not to. The overall best remedy for bullying is a healthy self-image and personal confidence.

4. Utah Native
Farmington, UT,
Aug. 15, 2014

Our teen has been dealing with a "frenemy" bully for years, and I think those are the worst kind: friend in name only, but they're really out to tear you down. Frenemy was found out and has been reprimanded by parents, which only heightened aggression away from parental supervision. I talked to another parent whose son went through the same torment. The bully was in church, scouts, and school with her son. It finally took a powerful threat from a kid on the wrestling team, challenging the bully to a fight at school for his treatment of the victim, for the bully to back down, and that was their senior year. (No fight ensued, but the whole school wanted to see Bully humbled.) After that, the bully became almost cordial. Why is it that violence and threats were the only language that got through to the bully?

5. A Guy With A Brain
Enid, OK,
Aug. 18, 2014

I hate bullies.

Everybody but the bully hates bullies (that is until THEY get bullied by somebody more powerful than they are). Bullies just make life miserable.

I agree with these ideas in the article, including the comment above that sometimes you just have to stand up for yourself.

When I was in high school I was picked on by 2 kids. Since then I've noticed that I'm much more capable to stand up for myself and get in a bully's face if need be. The last time that happened I ended up literally about 6 inches from a complete stranger's nose, face to face, so close I could see his lip was quivering. Mine were not. I was plenty angry and let him know it and I was not going to back down. I didn't even think about backing down, even if it came to blows.

Afterwards I thought that I should have let his offense roll off my back. Yet on the other hand I was extremely proud that I was not only willing, but able, to stand up for myself.

It's a fine line.

Good luck to us all to find it.