What are the Different Types of Bullying in Elementary Schools?

Dan Cavallari

Bullying in elementary schools is nothing new, though some of the methods by which bullying takes place are relatively new. From physical abuse to verbal harassment, bullying in elementary schools can take place among any population of students in any school. Alienating certain students can also be considered bullying, as can intimidating or threatening a student, regardless of the intent. More recently, cyber-bullying has become a widespread tactic for bullying in elementary schools. This type of bullying involves sending messages via the Internet, cell phone, or other technological device to intimidate, threaten, or otherwise display aggression toward a student.

The growing use of technology at elementary schools has led to more cases of cyber bullying.
The growing use of technology at elementary schools has led to more cases of cyber bullying.

The most recognized form of bullying in elementary schools is physical violence, in which a student is struck, pushed, bumped, or otherwise contacted with malicious intent. This is a dangerous form of bullying that can result in physical harm being inflicted on a student. Most bullies look for opportunities to take part in physical bullying when adults are not present or paying close enough attention, such as on the playground, in bathrooms, or in crowded hallways. Taking a student's possessions and destroying them can also be considered physical bullying.

Emotional bullying excludes the victim from social interactions and causes mental pain.
Emotional bullying excludes the victim from social interactions and causes mental pain.

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While prevalent, physical bullying is not the most common form of bullying. Verbal bullying in elementary schools can be just as damaging to a student, and it is far more common than physical violence. Taunting a student; threatening him or her; or making fun of a student's gender, religion, appearance, socioeconomic status, or mannerisms are all forms of verbal bullying. Such bullying tends to spread quickly, as other students tend to catch onto the verbal abuse and participate as well, often without thinking of the harm or consequences. An indirect form of verbal bullying includes spreading rumors or talking about a student behind his or her back in a negative manner. This may lead to another form of bullying in elementary schools: social alienation, which occurs when a student is excluded from a group or from the rest of the class and made to feel inferior or different from everyone else.

Bullying may take place on school buses.
Bullying may take place on school buses.

Cyber bullying has become a common type of bullying since new technologies have become readily available to students. This may include sending threatening e-mails, text messages, picture messages, or other types of cyber communication meant to degrade, taunt, or threaten. A practice known as "sexting" has also become a popular form of bullying; this involves spreading nude, semi-nude, or otherwise racy photos of students to other people through phones or the internet.

Cyber bulling can take place via text message, e-mail, cell phone, or other means of virtual communication.
Cyber bulling can take place via text message, e-mail, cell phone, or other means of virtual communication.
School bullying often involves physical violence.
School bullying often involves physical violence.

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Discussion Comments


@Bertie68 - That sounds like a good idea to implement in every school, mandatory counseling sessions. I don't know if kids would feel comfortable speaking up about their issues, but maybe over time they would, and maybe just having someone remind them that they are valuable, beautiful, and amazing would help them feel better, hopefully. Also, the counseling may help the bullies realize what they are doing is wrong and very hurtful, and hopefully they will stop bullying and deal with their issues in the group instead of taking it out on others.

I am sure everyone has at least a few memories of being bullied, that have never faded over time. We tend to remember the negative over the positive, so it really isn't that surprising. If you weren't bullied at all, count yourself very lucky! I remember middle school was especially trying for me because I was experimenting with a few different looks and some did not go over so well with my peers. I am glad that those years are over, and glad that I had a few friends and family that lifted me up no matter what. If it weren't for my loved one's saying positive things about me repeatedly, I may not be here today!

I am so sorry for those that have to go through bullying on a regular basis, or even at all. I hope and pray they have people in their life that give them nothing but love, respect, kindness, and positive words, so that they will be able to make it through the rough patches in life. I hope and pray the bullies will stop being bullies and learn how to love instead of hate. The bullies are going through a lot too, so I hope and pray the bullies and the one's being bullied get the help and love they so desperately need, before it is too late.

Also parents/guardians/any responsible adult's in a child(ren)s life, please do not let children have access to a cell phone or a computer unsupervised, this just puts them at risk for bullying, among other negative things. They really do not need access to either forms of media by themselves regardless. Please let your children be children while they can, they will grow up on you soon enough.


I saw bullying on my all girls soccer team. There was one girl that was made fun of by everyone else. Although I didn't take part in the bullying, I to this day still think it was just as bad that I did not help the girl who was being bullied.

I think it is great that it seems that there is an awareness of bullying as you can see from programs that have started such as "Stop Bullying Now" and from people on the news and talk shows that are devoting time to sharing stories about bullying.

But then there is the real life situations like @burcidi mentioned. What can you do when the teacher is unaware? When you have twenty to thirty kids in a class I bet dealing with bullies in elementary school or even middle school has not been the focus of teacher workshops, but wouldn’t it be great if we could add this to our ever changing school curriculums?


@turkey1 - I hate to hear your experiences about coming to a completely new place and experiencing such a harsh environment - in *elementary school* no less! I am glad it became better in middle school; especially considering middle school seems to be pretty much tough on every kid!


No doubt most all of us were verbally bullied at some time or another during elementary school. But this is different than the kind that is harsh and on-going.

If a child is different in any way, they can be candidates for verbal abuse. Usually, with young kids, it's about something that can be seen, like appearance, clothing, habits. Other attributes like, race, religion, nationality, or gender are targeted in the teen years.

But the taunting about physical traits, and the exclusion of a child from a group, can cause some deep emotional scars. We need to find a way to minimize this hurtful behavior.


Bullying in elementary school has always been a problem. But it has escalated in recent years because of the internet and various telephones. Because kids do their bullying when there are no adults around, it's hard for teachers and principals to do much.

If parents see their children bullying siblings or neighbor kids, they should really try to work with that child.

At my granddaughter's elementary school, once a week they have a group session with a counselor, where they talk about bullying and social skills. I hope it's helping!


@SZapper - Bullying does sound quite scary. And it seems like it can really have a lasting emotional affect on children.

However, I don't think that the threat of bullying should make you home school your children. Instead, you should concentrate on making sure they are emotionally healthy and have good self esteem. This way you can make sure they won't become bullies, but also that if they get teased they'll be able to handle it.


I've heard about this kind of bullying in the news a lot lately. It seems that when bullying starts in elementary school, it often continues when the children are older too. I read an article awhile back about a child who was bullied from the time he was in fifth grade right up until high school. Eventually, the constant bullying led him to kill himself.

I think this is a big problem in our country. I know bullying has always been around, but it seems like it's so much more vicious these days.

Anyway, I don't have children, but when I do, I'm seriously thinking about home schooling them. No child should have to put up with this, and often there isn't much teachers can do. Or they simply turn a blind eye. It's just too scary.


Cyber bullying is one of the main reasons why I don't want my kids to have cell phones yet or use the internet to chat or message with other kids. It is nice to have an easy way to contact them and they want to be able to chat with their friends online. But I have been hearing so much about cyber bullying in the news that I just can't allow it.

I just read an article the other day that said that more than 70% of kids have reported that they were a victim of cyber bullying. They were ridiculed and threatened through the internet and text messaging. Some of these threats and bullying has even led to suicide attempts by these kids. This is so very scary. Elementary school is the time to learn, make friends and play. I don't want my kids to go through such things.


We're going through this problem right now. My son is nine years old and he comes home crying and upset almost every single day. He says the kids are mean to him and don't want to play with him. My son has glasses and is kind of thin and small for his age. I think some of the other boys don't want to include them in their sports games because they don't think he would do well.

He does have a couple of friends, but he's very upset that him and his friends are being excluded from games by the other kids who are either the same age but bigger physically or are a year older.

I've asked him not to mind it and that they are not doing it on purpose. I've also spoken to his class teacher who says that she hasn't seen anyone bullying him. I don't know if I should contact those kids parents or speak to the school principal. It just breaks my heart to see my son so upset and worried everyday. I'm scared that it might distance him from school.


I was made fun of a lot when I was in elementary school. My family had just migrated to the US and I couldn't speak English at all. Coming from a different culture, I also dressed and acted differently than the other students. Kids made fun of me all the time. The teachers were very kind but they weren't even aware of what was going on.

It was really frustrating for me because at first, I didn't even know what they were saying about me. Later, as I learned English, I understood everything, but still couldn't respond or tell the teacher because I felt too afraid.

Thankfully, things got a lot better for me in Middle School and I started to make friends then. I caught up with the other kids in terms of classes and grades and I started dressing, acting and speaking like them so I wasn't made fun of anymore.

The bad experiences in elementary school has affected me a lot though and I still become sad when I remember it. Kids can be really mean.

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