What is bullying?

Bullying is violence. It is violence committed by one or more persons. Bullying is intended to hurt other people.

Someone who is bullied, usually can’t, or has difficulties, defending himself. An unequal relationship often exists between the bully (or bullies) and the victim. Because the victim is alone, because the victim is younger or because the victim has less power or influence.

Bully and bystander

A bully or bullies count on bystanders not to intervene. Or they hope they’ll just join in. This can be done by following their example, or by reinforcing the bullying behaviour with laughter or cheering.

Bullying occurs everywhere

Bullying occurs in relationships, in a family, in the workplace, at school, in the scouts or at camp. Bullying is everywhere.

Once-off or prolonged

Bullying often involves repeated behaviour. But a one-off bullying incident can also have a major impact. The duration of the bullying varies. Sometimes a short time, sometimes a longer period.

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Bullying occurs in many ways: online, face-to-face or otherwise.

Examples of emotional bullying

  • Hurtful remarks
  • Insulting
  • Threatening
  • Excluding
  • Spreading gossip or rumours

Examples of physical and material bullying

  • Hitting
  • Kicking
  • Pushing
  • Damaging or stealing items

Examples of online bullying or cyberbullying:

  • Bullying via mobile phones and smartphones, tablets, game consoles or the computer
  • Posting online hate messages
  • Spreading insulting or threatening photos or videos
  • Spreading personal or intimate information

Victims usually suffer different forms of bullying.

Talk about it in all confidence.

Are you being bullied? Is someone you know being bullied? Do you join in with a group of bullies or do you bully yourself and do you feel uncomfortable with this? Contact 1712. Free and anonymous.

For years, Zuri (17) was bullied at school

Girls and boys have been laughing at me for years at school. The bullying doesn’t stop at the school gate. One time I was performing because I play music. They laughed at me until I ran away from the stage crying. Bullies filmed it and distributed the video. Everyone saw that video. Even my classmates and my friend started bullying me, just because they were afraid of being bullied themselves.
I still think it's because of me. Making contact with new people is very difficult. I almost don't dare, because I'm afraid they'll start bullying me.


Louis (55) is bullied by his boss

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My employer wants to get rid of me without paying me any severance pay. He’s killing my job. He gives me stupid assignments and tasks. And I get criticised all the time. He makes fun of me in front of my colleagues. Everyone laughs. My colleagues no longer ask me out for a drink. That kind of thing eats away at you. At my age, finding another job isn’t easy. It keeps me awake and I’m sick more often.


Zhu’s (24) mentor behaves inappropriately

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At an internship, my mentor constantly makes inappropriate remarks about my skin colour and my appearance. Sometimes even in front of other team members. They laugh. I laugh too, because I don't want my colleagues to think I can't cope with this kind of situation. Afterwards, I feel stupid and humiliated. Often I drive home crying and in the morning I have to gather all my courage to return to my internship.