Direct Bullying Versus Indirect Bullying
Bullying can also be labeled as direct or indirect. Direct bullying is when the bully confronts the victim face to face. Examples of direct bullying would include relatively open attacks on the victim. A child who is punched, kicked, slapped, called nasty names in the lunch line, refused a seat on the bus, or threatened in the bathroom is the victim of direct bullying.
In the case of indirect bullying, the bully systematically undermines the victim's reputation by spreading rumors and malicious gossip with the intent of ruining the victim's social standing. This type of bullying can be difficult to stop because the identity of the person responsible for the bullying may never be discovered. Girls are more apt to utilize these more subtle indirect strategies, whereas boys are more likely to engage in direct bullying.
Never blame your child for being bullied. Don't tell her she's too sensitive or too emotional or that she's overreacting. To say those things is to place the blame for the bullying on her. No one deserves to be bullied, no matter how sensitive or emotional she may be.
There is some evidence that suggests that as kids move their way through the school system, there is a gradual shift from direct to indirect bullying. Boys are still more likely than girls to engage in physical bullying, but overall, the level and frequency of indirect bullying generally increases as the level of direct bullying decreases. And because indirect bullying (i.e., social isolation and hurtful gossip) is harder to detect, schools may seriously underestimate the extent of this ongoing problem.
It's important for adults to remember that regardless of whether the bullying is direct or indirect, if it meets the three criteria of bullying (imbalance of power, intent to cause harm, threat of future harm), it's bullying — plain and simple.