Arguably one of the most damaging types of bullying, indirect bullying is when one person, or group of people, undermines or tries to ruin your reputation by spreading rumors and gossiping behind your back. This form of bullying is most prevalent among girls, so much so, that it is possibly the precursor to girl-to-girl bullying.

One of the primary obstacles in helping students who are targets of indirect bullying is that it’s all verbal and hard to prove.

Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones But Words Will Never Hurt Me

It’s a good thing we know this statement couldn’t be any further from the truth. The dangers of not taking indirect bullying seriously because it doesn’t produce physical scars can’t be overstated. Children care about their reputations. Teens care about their reputation. Young adults care about their reputation. Many adults care about their reputation. Telling a person that spends eight to ten hours a day, five days a week, to not care what others say about them, is not only unreasonable, it’s asking them to do what most adults cannot do while they navigate puberty, planning the rest of their lives, and growing into their own identity.

However, it is important to keep in kind that just because someone spreads a rumor about you or someone else, doesn’t make it bullying. Remember that bullying has three primary characteristics


Below are examples of indirect bullying:

  • Purposefully not allowing someone to sit at your lunch table, or participate in a group activity.
  • Mocking or making fun of someone because of their religious beliefs, culture, sexual orientation, socio-economic status, etc.
  • Gossiping about someone just for the sake it; just to be mean.