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Types of Bullying: Covert vs Overt

Girl experiencing covert bullying.

Yesterday I began our new series on the various types of bullying. Please review the original post for an overview.

The first thing you need to understand is the difference between overt and covert bullying. Both types of bullying are equally hurtful.

Overt Bullying consists of direct attacks. The best way to think of this is that it’s “obvious”. The bully isn’t doing anything to conceal their behavior.

Examples of overt bullying include:

  • Physical Violence (Punching, Shoving, Etc…)
  • Name Calling (“Hey fattie fat-so!”)
  • Mean Comments (“You’re so stupid!”)
  • Threats (“Stay out of my way or I’ll hit you!”)
  • Yelling

Over time most bullies tend to stop using overt bullying. Others see what’s happening and the bully has to deal with the consequences of their actions.

Eventually most bullies shift over to “Covert Bullying” tactics. This type of bullying is just as effective as overt bullying, but it’s much harder to prove.

Examples of covert bullying include:

  • Nasty Rumors (Did you hear what happened to Jessie last night?)
  • Exclusion (Everyone got invited to the party but Sue)
  • Non-Verbal Insults (Glares, Sideways Glances, Pointing, Eye Rolls)
  • Snorts, giggles, and other derogatory noises.

Masters of covert bullying techniques often get away with it their entire lives! This type of bullying has more to do with psychological intimidation than it does physical force.

Covert bullying is prevelant in our schools and workplaces because it’s so easily deniable with four simple words:

“I didn’t DO anything!”

It’s critical to understand that many bullying tactics are powerful largely because of their deniability.

As we continue examining types of bullying, you’ll begin to see the roles overt and covert bullying play in the daily lives of our children and our families.

Hopefully you’re beginning to see just how big this subject is. It’s a lot more than just a few mean names on the playground.

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