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Bullying LibGuide: Relational, Covert or Indirect Aggression and Covert Bullying; Bullying; Mobbing

by Librarian/Professor 1, Alyse McKeal, LCSW, MSW, MLIS




Covert Aggression

Covert Bullying

Gas Lighting



Indirect Aggression


Peer Abuse

Relational Aggression


Social Aggression

Workplace Aggression

Workplace Bullying

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-More information is available here:

Psychology Today: Bullying

"What Is Bullying?

Bullying is a distinctive pattern of harming and humiliating others, specifically those who are in some way smaller, weaker, younger or in any way more vulnerable than the bully. Bullying is not garden-variety aggression; it is a deliberate and repeated attempt to cause harm to others of lesser power.

It's a very durable behavioral style, largely because bullies get what they want—at least at first. Bullies are made, not born, and it happens at an early age, if the normal aggression of 2-year-olds isn't handled with consistency.

Between 1 in 4 and 1 in 3 students in the United States reports being bullied at school, according to the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics. In grades 6 through 12 alone, over a quarter of students have experienced bullying.

Electronic bullying has become a significant problem in the past decade. The ubiquity of hand-held and other devices affords bullies constant access to their prey, and harassment can often be carried out anonymously.


Just Who Is a Bully?

Studies show that bullies lack prosocial behavior, are untroubled by anxiety, and do not understand others' feelings. They misread the intentions of others, often imputing hostility in neutral situations. They typically see themselves quite positively. Those who chronically bully have strained relationships with parents and peers.

Bullies couldn't exist without victims, and they don't pick on just anyone; those singled out lack assertiveness even in nonthreatening situations and radiate fear long before they ever encounter a bully. Increasingly, children are growing up without the kinds of play experiences in which children develop social skills and learn how to solve social problems.


Welcome Message

Bullying takes many forms and is insidious in society.  It can make you feel lonely, helpless, scared, and impact your mental health. It is hurtful.  Bullying's reach is far and wide and may be physical, psychological, or emotional or a mix of these characteristics. It impacts all age groups, genders, individuals, maturity levels, developmental stages, arenas, cultures, organizations, and demographics.  It has no limits.  Bullying takes many names including but not limited to: Relational, covert, or Indirect Aggression; Covert Bullying; Mobbing; Incivility; Blacklisting; Harassing; Smearing; and the list goes on.  It is important that it be recognized, managed carefully, addressed, and that all people feel supported and safe to express that this is taking place for them/her/him. I will present some research on bullying (by a variety of names) in the workforce, school systems, and throughout other organizations in an attempt to highlight the issue and its ramifications and reach. 

"It’s any ongoing negative behavior toward a coworker. It often lasts for an extended period of time. The most obvious type: verbal attacks. Other possible signs of workplace bullying include:

  • Excluding or isolating a colleague, coworker, student or anyone else.

  • Always critiquing a person’s work

  • Not allowing a coworker to do his or her work without interruptions

  • Undermining a person’s ability to complete a task

  • Micromanaging" (University of Rochester Medical Center, 2019)

Not primarily kids, not just adults, not just adolescents, men, women, non-binary individuals....Make sure you are not the Bully! Bullying can be silent, manipulative, and include ignoring your coworker(s) and leaving them out. It may involve talking negatively about them to others, so they will be thought of poorly.  It may also include not sharing information with them. Despite being passive aggressive, it is just as detrimental psychologically. Even if just if a way to cold-shoulder someone whom your friend or group don't like or take issue with. 

Bullying Definitions

According to the American Psychological Association: 


"Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions.

The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying. "(2018)


Other definitions and examples:

"Bullying ranges from one-on-one, individual bullying through to group bullying called mobbing, in which the bully may have one or more "lieutenants" who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse.[9] Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.

bullying culture can develop in any context in which humans interact with each other. This includes school, family, the workplace,[10] home, and neighborhoods. The main platform for bullying is on social media websites.[11] In a 2012 study of male adolescent American football players, "the strongest predictor [of bullying] was the perception of whether the most influential male in a player's life would approve of the bullying behavior". (Wikipedia, 2018)

Bullying in Colleges and Universities

"In academia

Bullying in academia is workplace bullying of scholars and staff in academia, especially places of higher education such as colleges and universities. It is believed to be common, although has not received as much attention from researchers as bullying in some other contexts.[Wikipedia, 2018]

How To Know If You Are a Bullying in/at Your Job!

"Workplace Bullying...


  • Is driven by perpetrators' need to control the targeted individual(s).
  • Is initiated by bullies who choose their targets, timing, location, and methods.
  • Is a set of acts of commission (doing things to others) or omission (withholding resources from others)
  • Requires consequences for the targeted individual
  • Escalates to involve others who side with the bully, either voluntarily or through coercion.
  • Undermines legitimate business interests when bullies' personal agendas take precedence over work itself.
  • Is akin to domestic violence at work, where the abuser is on the payroll. (Workplace Bullying Institute) "