Physical Bullying

Physical aggression is the most widely recognized and publicized form of bully behavior. This is the type of behavior that gets adult attention, garners school suspensions, and occasionally makes headlines and the six o'clock news.

Typically, the behavior is action oriented, involving such behaviors as hair pulling, pinching, pushing, shoving, slapping, kicking, tripping, poking, stabbing, spitting, hitting, punching, head butting, choking, imitating wrestling holds, throwing an object at someone, pushing books out of one's hands, and hiding or destroying of property.

Girls are more apt to use mild physical aggression such as pulling hair, slapping, and scratching; boys are more likely to punch, shove, and throw objects. Here are some examples of physical bullying:

  • When lining up for recess, Henk repeatedly pushes Matthew forward so he stumbles into all the girls.

  • In the cafeteria, Carla sticks out her leg to trip Ellen. Ellen's tray of food goes flying and lands next to her on the floor.

  • Every day when Billy reaches for a blank piece of paper, Joao (who sits next to the supply cabinet) smacks a ruler across Billy's knuckles.

  • Each Friday, Paul takes great pleasure in stuffing Conner into his locker and slamming the door shut. Conner can't get out and usually misses the bus by the time a teacher finally hears him banging and lets him out.

  • When the lights are dimmed in the classroom to watch a film, Shawna always feels the sting of spitballs hitting her neck.

  • Tony is often held down by three boys on the playground and forced to eat dirt.

  • Ned punches Jose in the shoulder during the entire bus ride home. This happens every day without fail.

  • Sophie uses a different color permanent marker to draw all over Amanda's clothing each day. Monday is red, Tuesday is orange, Wednesday is purple, and so on.

Physical bullying can occur even when there is no actual physical contact. The bully can shake his fist in your face, slam a book down on your desk, or invade your personal space. This is referred to as posturing. Posturing is a common scare tactic bullies use to intimidate and frighten their victims

Once a bully gets a reputation for being violent and cruel, a simple threatening move like a fisted hand or a mock air punch can strike fear into a bullied child's heart. The threat of physical violence is sometimes just as effective as actual physical violence.

Another form of physical bullying involves actions that are meant to sexually intimidate or harass. A sexual bully might lift up a girl's skirt, “pants” a boy, push the bodies of two kids together, pinch someone's bottom, grab a girl's breasts or snap her bra, make unwanted sexual advances, or pressure someone into unwanted sexual activity.

One of the biggest problems with the continuation of physical bullying is the potential progression and escalation of violence. If the bully trips or shoves you today, what will he do to top it tomorrow? The danger for ever-increasing levels of violence exists.

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