In many cases, girls who bully choose to do it via verbal abuse. According to Bullying Statistics, girls tend to be more subtle than boys regarding bullying. In addition to social-exclusion, girls use verbal bullying more often to dominate and demonstrate power, rather than physical bullying. That is not to say, however, boys do not use the more covert forms of bullying. Often, boys prefer to dominate through verbal abuse to avoid the trouble that can accompany physical bullying.
The effects of verbal bullying often last longer than physical injuries. Often, tangible physical effects result from verbal abuse. In addition to affecting one’s self image, verbal bullying can lead to low self-esteem, depression and other problems. In some cases, victims might turn to substance abuse or, in extreme cases, suicide. Ultimately, words have power and verbal abuse can have significant physical consequences, even if victims are never touched.
Covert bullying is another common type of bullying. Often categorized as emotional bullying or relational aggression, this kind of mistreatment can be harder to recognize because victims aren’t always aware it’s happening. Covert bullying is intended to harm someone’s reputation and social standing, as well as cause humiliation.
A wide variety of actions can be defined as covert bullying: lying and spreading rumors; playing mean-spirited, humiliating jokes; unkind mimicking or encouraging others to socially exclude the victim.
According to bullying expert Ben Leichtling, Ph.D., covert bullies often exert tremendous effort to damage the victim in the eyes of others, allowing the abusive behavior to be excused by other members of the group. Depending on the age and relationships involved in the group, this can be a betrayal on many levels. With covert bullying, the ultimate goal is to isolate victims, making them feel helpless and alone.