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Verbal Bullying: Meaning, Impact, and Solutions

Verbal Bullying: Meaning, Impact, and Solutions

Updated on Jun 26, 2023

Reviewed by Dr. Nereida Gonzalez-Berrios, MD , Certified Psychiatrist

Verbal Bullying Definition, It's Impact and Solution

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Bullying has become a regular thing in our society. This act of insulting others usually begins in school and goes on to late adulthood. And the most common type of bullying is physical—we all know about it.

However, verbal bullying is another type of bullying that requires our attention. Additionally, a person suffering from verbal bullying displays low self-esteem, low confidence, and other psychological issues.

Verbal bullying is a form of verbal abuse, where individuals are called names or insulted in a way that affects their regular life, thought processes, and behavior. The effects of this form of bullying can be quite harmful and long-lasting.

This is one reason why one must be educated about the signs, results, and solutions related to any form of bullying from a young age.

Moreover, there is a lot of confusion about the meaning and effects of verbal abuse and bullying. People are also not aware of bullying behavior and ways to deal with it. If you want to know more about verbal bullying and all the things that come with it, read on.

Verbal Bullying Infographic

Verbal Bullying - Meaning, Impact, and Solutions
Verbal Bullying – Meaning, Impact, and Solutions

Verbal Bullying Definition

Verbal bullying is a type of verbal abuse that hurts the psychological health of a person. It can lead to poor performance at school, depression, and anxiety.

Verbal bullying is a form of verbal abuse. It is intended to degrade, demean, or insult the target person, which might affect their mental, physical, emotional, and psychological health.

A bully might make comments about the appearance, gender, race, and weight of the bullied. Statistics suggest that a large percentage of students these days suffer from verbal bullying.

As per the Center for Disease Control and Department of Education, Verbal bullying includes unwanted aggressive or dominant behavior, observed power imbalance, repetitive, abusive behavior, and mental control of the targeted person.

When does verbal bullying start?

Verbal bullying usually starts in school. It can affect a child’s life in a way that they isolate themselves from their peers. Bullying can also lead to a downfall in the school performance of a child.

The performance issue might extend to adulthood, as well. In extreme cases, it leads to problems, such as depression, anxiety, physical harm, suicides, and other related illnesses.

Verbal bullying usually affects more girls than boys. The reason for the same is that girls are more sensitive than boys in most cases. Thus, the effects of verbal bullying are seen more in girls than in boys.

However, there are numerous cases where boys suffered devastatingly due to bullying.

Verbal bullying facts

According to a 2017 report by School Crime Supplement, about 20% of students aged between 12 and 18 suffer from bullying.

As per statistics, 70.6% of young people have admitted to watching children getting bullied at school. It’s more than 70% of the school administrators, who witness bullying daily. When bystanders get involved in bullying, it stops within 10 seconds, 57% of the time.

There are numerous cases of verbal bullying across the world. Thus, it is essential to know how to deal with verbal bullies, especially in the case of young people.

They might have a long –term effects on them in the form of fears, disappointments, and other negative emotions. Thus, it is vital to stop the bullying on the spot, if possible.

Repeating the scenario of bullying can exhaust your brain and push you into depression. To avoid the same, focus your time and energy on activities that make you happy. Join a hobby, spend time with your family and friends, go on a long walk, read, etc

Impact of verbal bullying

Verbal bullying has some severe effects on children as well as adults. It can cause low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, and other psychological issues in children and teenagers.

In adults, it can cause drug addiction, alcoholism, social withdrawal, and severe health problems such as high blood pressure, thyroid, heart diseases, etc.

Many people understand how physical bullying can impact people negatively. However, verbal bullying often affects people more for the reason that words stay people for the rest of their lives.

Effects of verbal bullying in children

Here are some signs or effects of verbal bullying that can be seen in children and teenagers –

  • Low self-esteem
  • Diminished self-confidence
  • Fear of meeting new people
  • Lack of or no social life
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Emotional problems
  • Psychological issues
  • Lack of self-acceptance
  • Lack of focus
  • Poor school or work performance
  • Loss of interest in hobbies and activities
  • Changes in sleep and eating patterns
  • Lack of sleep or insomnia
  • Cut off from reality
  • Self-harm and suicide, in extreme cases

Effects of verbal bullying in adults

In adults, the effects of verbal bullying are more lasting, resulting in behaviors, such as-

  • Anger
  • Aggression
  • Eating disorder
  • Alcoholism
  • Drug addiction
  • Social withdrawal
  • Turn into a bully
  • Frustration
  • Self-blaming
  • Blaming others for their situation
  • Victimizing
  • Delusional
  • Suicidal tendencies in extreme cases
  • High blood pressure
  • Thyroid, heart diseases

The effects mentioned above are only a few of the many things that impact a bullied person. Sometimes, people don’t even know that their typical behavior is the result of bullying. It doesn’t matter if he or she was bullied two days back or twelve years back, it might stay with them forever.

Why does someone become a bully

People can turn into bullies for a variety of reasons. If they were bullied by someone in their past, or have suffered from mental abuse at home, they are likely to turn to bully others. Some people also bully others out of peer pressure, from a lack of self-esteem, or to get attention.

No one is a born bully. Life turns us into someone we were never meant to be. Our experiences define our nature very often.

A loss, abuse, heartbreak, or other similar situation brings out the bully in us. Bullying can lead to violating someone’s space on a short-term or long-term basis. 

Many a time, people don’t even know that they are bullying the other person, unless, they realize it themselves, or someone else tells them the same.

Nonetheless, it is essential to know a few reasons that often turns people into bullies-

  • They might do this because they are/ were bullied by someone in the past
  • Emotional, mental or physical abuse at home
  • To maintain or enhance their reputation amongst their peers
  • Lack of self-esteem or confidence in them which they negatively project on other people
  • Sometimes, they even enjoy the attention they get when they bully someone
  • They are angry at themselves or someone else but doesn’t know how to deal with the emotion

In most cases, people turn into a bully because deep inside, they are insecure and need a lot of emotional healing.

Although it is quite a task to do, treat your bully with empathy and understanding. It will help them heal and solve your problem as well.

Verbal bullying examples

Verbal bullying definition is the act of saying or writing mean or hurtful things. Verbal bullying examples include –

  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

How to handle a verbal bully

To deal with verbal bullying, first of all, you need to report it. You can also talk to your family or friends, face your bully and tell them how you feel, or try to ignore it and hope it goes away.

While physical violence can be dealt with by tending the wounds and therapy, verbal bullying is a bit complicated to deal with. In many cases, people don’t even know that they are a victim of verbal bullying.

Thus, it is crucial to deal with verbal bullying; you can follow these steps--

  • Report the bullying: It doesn’t matter if you are a child, teenager, or adult, you must never keep up with any form of bullying. It’s better to let the authorities handle the whole situation instead of taking it in your own hands.
  • Try to ignore it and leave: Even though it’s not recommended all the time, but if the bullying isn’t that intense, you can take it as a joke and walk away. There is another reason for ignoring bullies. They often stop pestering you when you do not pay any attention to their words.
  • Contact your family or a trustworthy friend: When someone is bullying you, then the best way is to connect with a family member or a friend. If you talk about your problems, it will give you emotional healing. When you know you have support, you find the strength to stand up for yourself. When you stand up for yourself, you put a stop on bullying.
  • Face your bully and tell them it’s not okay: The best way is to face the bully. Let them know that their behavior is unacceptable, and you will take action against them, in case they do not stop with bullying.

Standing up for oneself and others is the best way to stop bullying behavior. In order to stand up for yourself, you need to be fearless, in control of your mind and emotions, and know why bullying exists in the first place.

Here is a nice video to understand various ways to stop bullying –

Closing thoughts

In today’s world of social media, bullying has become quite common. Anyone can bully anyone without disclosing their identity.

So, the best thing to do when you are exposed to verbal bullying is to let it go and love yourself.

If you love yourself, you will neither bully people nor will you allow others to do the same to you. It is vital to maintain a great relationship with yourself, and everybody else will know how to treat you the right way.

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