Posted by on October 9, 2019

Relational. belonging to (e.g. a group or club) or with (kinship)

Reputation. What is generally said or believed about a person’s character or standing

Sabotage. Deliberate damage, to wilfully destroy

In a previous blog, we offered an overview of bullying that included an overview of the different types of bullying. In a later blog, we focused on one of these types: emotional bullying

This blog introduces the most sophisticated form of bullying – relational bullying. Essentially, relational bullying sabotages the target’s social network- friends, acquaintances, teammates, club members, even siblings. This can be especially traumatic to preteens and teens who are especially invested in peer acceptance. It is much less tangible than physical bullying and even less obvious than emotional bullying. 

Here are some ways bullies undermine the target’s relations.

  • Ignoring. Not talking with them or acknowledging their presence
  • Exclusion. Excluding someone from groups (clubs, teams, etc…) or activities such as birthday parties.
  • Reputation. Spreading rumours about someone. “Jennifer has slept half the guys in her class.”
  • Soliciting Friends. Convincing the target’s friends to reject the target or collude with the bullies in their campaign to diminish his/her self worth. 

Relational bullies can be boys or girls but the latter are more frequent. The methods can be disgustingly sophisticated. For instance, an individual or ground might ostensibly befriend someone, gain their trust, then share information (taken in confidence e.g. secrets) to shame the target.   

All in all, it is sabotage of the target’s capacity to sustain or develop new relationships. In starker terms, it rips at a child’s sense of belonging. 

In future blogs, we will look at some ways to deal with relational bullying as well as the other forms.   


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