Your D​esi Helpline


Bullying is defined as a form of behavior which causes another person injury or discomfort, taking forms of personal injury, discomfort, and repeated aggression. Schools often experience student conflicts, that may escalate to forms of bullying. School bullying has grown to a systematic public health problem, and if a victim, there needs to be lots of mental and physical support to help treat the stresses and harmful thoughts that result from it. 

Different Ways Individuals Experience Bullying 

Bullying can occur in multiple ways. If you fall under the victim of one of these categories, feel free to seek counseling or help. 

1. Direct Bullying: This involves direct contact with the one being bullied. Direct bullying falls along the lines of physical abuse, and indirect bullying falls along the lines of spreading hurtful rumors about a classmate. 

2. Cyberbullying: This is a type of bullying that occurs online, including but not limited to hurtful comments, threats, or deceptive private messaging. 

3. Physical Bullying: This involves physical contact with a student to another. 

4. Emotional Bullying: This involves using ways to cause emotional hurt to another person, including verbal and written offenses. This causes others to gang up on an individual, and leads to rumors. 

5. Sexual Bullying: This occurs when a person's gender or sexuality is related to the harassment. Some examples include sexual assault, sexual comments, or unwanted touching. 

6. Verbal Bullying: This involves using language that causes distress to another, which includes profanities, teasing, or the use of derogatory terms.

South Asian Stereotypes 

As racial minorities, Asians have historically suffered from harassment in the United States. These stereotypes are big factors in the discriminatory prejudices that Asian face.  The first and foremost is the dual socioeconomic profiling. South Asians have long been stereotyped as uneducated, greedy, or snobbish due to the media representation and by the occupations that Asians have taken. The Babu Bhatt character of Seinfield can be held as one example, contrasting with the reality of South Asians and how they are represented fairly equally in may professions.  Model minority also factors in the perceptions of South Asians, as their behaviors are stereotyped as models within expectations. Indian Americans are often stereotyped as a population that is overly obsessive with academic achievement, especially represented as Spelling Bee Winners. However, this type of view fails to take into account of how not all of the South Asian population is able to achieve with the academic rigor that is expected, and some children of South Asian descent even fail to learn English as their second language. Other than those stereotypes, there are also different prominent opinions declaring the awkwardness of assimilation of the South Asian Population.

The Bullying Circle 

In an active bullying situation, there are different types and modes of reactions/modes that the students of a class take. 

A: The Bully/Bullies- Initiate the bullying and actively take part in harassing the victim

B: Follower/Henchmen- They take an active part of the bullying but do not start the bullying

C: Supporter/Passive Bullies- Support the bullies but do not take an active part

D: Passive Supporter/Possible Bully-  Like the bullying but do not display open support 

E: Disengaged Onlooker- Watch what happens without taking a stand 

F: Possible Defender- Dislike the bullying and think they ought to help without doing it 

G: Defender- Dislike the bullying, help or try to help the one who is exposed 

Y: Victim- The one who is in the center and exposed in this circle, receiving the harassment. 


Bullying and How it Effects the Asian Population Terminology 

Micro-aggressions: Contemporary form or racism that seems to be invisible, subtle, and unintentional in nature. Outside level of conscious is usually needed to label these types of harassments, and the cumulative nature over time can create a very uncomfortable or hostile environment for the victim.

Hate Crimes: Actions of violence against individuals, groups, places of worship, which is motivated by prejudice. 

Xenophobia: Fear of foreigners or hatred towards everything foreign. 

Xenophobic Racism: Racism that is comprised of harassment, bullying, micro-aggressions, and xenophobia. 

Institutionalized Racism: A system, policy, or agency that discriminates based on the race or ethnic origin of one, through the policies and practices. 

Islamophobia: Irrational fear and strong dislike for anyone Muslim. 

Nativism: Practice of favoring the interests of those of a particular place over immigrants. In the 1900s, the nativist policies of the United States  made the immigration policies restrictive to the non-European countries. 

Refugee: Someone in a foreign country because they have been targeted, harassed, or persecuted because of their identities including race, religion, nationality, economic status, sexual orientation, gender, age, or other factors. 

The Bystander Effect 

Usually when someone is victimized in school bullying, the bystanders are hesitant to take action to prevent this from happening. This is due to the bystander effect, which happens due to a discouragement from an individual intervening the bully, because of the presence of other bystanders, making it less likely for anyone of them to provide help to a person in distress. People are more likely to take action when there are only a few or no other witnesses. This is correlated with the diffusion of responsibility or social loafing, and it is important to become aware of this phenomenon, so one doesn't simply stay as a bystander when confronted with a situation that must be intervened. 


How It Impacts Bullies 

Bullying is not a one sided loss, as the bully becomes psychologically impaired during the process as well. On the effects of bullying on bullies there happens to be depression, anxiety, panic disorders, suicidal thinking or behavior, or  agoraphobia which persists to adulthood. Bullies have 4-5 times more risks for anti-social personality disorders which includes lack of empathy, lying, or criminal behavior. When bullies grow up, they tend to struggle holding jobs, with alcohol and drugs, and are much more likely to hold police records.  They are five times more likely to risk depression, and ten times more likely to be subjected to various panic disorders. According to a Brown University study, an estimated 15 percent of U.S. children in 2007 were reported to be bullies, and those who were bullies were twice as likely to experience depression, anxiety, and attention deficit disorder. They were six times more likely to be diagnosed with oppositional defiant disorder, characterized by ongoing anger and hostility, towards authority figures, such as parents, teachers or other adults. They tend to continue the social abuse cycle they have experienced towards themselves an others. 


How It Impacts Victims 

Bullying has serious implications when it comes to its effects. Bullying leads to feelings of rejections, isolation, and exclusion that leads to a low self esteem. For some individuals, it may cause them psychological disorders such as Acute Stress Disorder or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Victim of bullying often have higher chances of being vulnerable to interpersonal violence, substance use, sexual violence and 

jury.  Common stress or anxiety related symptoms include sleep disorders, gastrointestinal concerns, headaches. These symptoms result due to the elevated blood pressures, inflammatory markers, and obesity which correlate to early life adversity when one is bullied. Especially to children, those who reported having been bullied before are reported to have negative physical health compared to their peers.  

Neurologically, when one is bullied there are psychological and physical stressors which activates the hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal (HPA) axis to a high level. Stress has ubiquitous effects on the physiology and the brain, altering the levels of hormones and biomarkers. Levels of the stress hormone cortisol, however, changes in targets of repeated bullying. Cortisol gets elevated immediately following stress, and leads to a bluntness to stress after it is prolonged. Peer victimization was associated with a greater sympathetic nervous system reactivity to a stress task, which eventually led to the stress levels being blunted due to its prolonged nature. When stress becomes prolonged, the hormonal stress becomes hypofunctional and eventually shuts down one's ability to self regulate or cope with stress. Prolonged stress, additionally, disrupts the circadian rhythm of cortisol, and this leads to profound disruption in sleep, memory functioning, social threat detection, and response systems. Chronic stress relates to the impairment of the hippocampus, enhancement of the amygdala, reduction of the medial prefrontal cortex, and increase in anxiety and aggression. 

Socially, there includes feelings of pain when one experiences peer rejection, ostracism, or loss. When people experience social pain, the humiliation, rejection, and the oppression is reflected in their brains as well. There neural alterations in the brain leads to the behavioral outcomes associated with being bullied. 



How to Prevent 

To put in a broad perspective, there are a couple of ways to prevent bullying. 

-Promote family environments that support healthy development 

(Early childhood home visitation, parenting skill and family relationship programs) 

-Provide quality education early in life 

(Preschool enrichment with family engagement) 

-Strengthen youth's skill 

(Universal school-based programs) 

-Connect youth to caring  adults activities 

(Mentoring programs, after-school programs) 

-Create protective community environments 

(Modify the physical and social environment, reduce exposure to community-level risks, stress outreach and community norm change) 

-Intervene to lessen harms and prevent future risk 

(Treatment to lessen the harms of violence exposures, treatment to prevent problem behavior and further involvement in violence, hospital-community partnerships)  

Kids, especially those in the primary school ages, need to be checked in often. They need to understand bullying, and be aware that it is unacceptable. Lines of communication should be open at all times, and they need to have a caring adult, willing to listen to them about their concerns. Kids should be encouraged to do what they love to do, especially those that engage them and grow their passions, make their friends, and protect them from bullying behavior. Most importantly, since kids mirror the actions of adults, adults around them should act as role models and show how to treat others with kindness and respect. 


Check out CDC's violence prevention strategies by clicking on this site: 

Where to Seek Help

Information About Procedural Steps:

Reporting Bullying:

Pacer's National Bullying Prevention Center:

Press the Buttons on the Bottom to Find Out More About: 


Bullying in the Work Place 

Bullying in School