Skip to main content



Learn how to identify bullying and what behaviors may be actionable.

Here, learn about bullying and its forms. Parents can seek legal help if a bully has harmed their child at school. To deal with bullying, talk about it, document it, and find ways to stay safe. It's also important to be kind to others and not bully others.  

Special thanks to the Texas Young Lawyers Association: Much of this information is excerpted directly from TYLA’s "Bigger Than Bullies" materials. 

What is bullying?

Bullying is the use of power—either physical or mental—to harass, hurt, coerce, intimidate, or ridicule others. This behavior is usually repeated over time. See Texas Education Code 37.0832(1)

What are some symptoms of being bullied? 

Bullying causes unhappiness, loneliness, anguish, intense or mild fear, anxiety, and in some cases, more violence. 

Who bullies? 

A bully can be one individual or group, where the bully may have one or more friends willing to back them up. Workplace bullying is commonly referred to as peer abuse and involves rankism. 

What are the four types of bullying? 

Bullying has many different forms. Recently, bullying has been divided into four basic types of abuse—emotional, verbal, physical, and cyberbullying. All involve intimidation and fear. 

Any form of bullying should not be tolerated and should be discussed with a parent, friend, or appropriate authority. Most bullying, however, goes unreported. Herein lies the problem. Discussion is the first and most crucial step. Most people want to push the memory deep down inside and never think about it again, but doing just the opposite is the best way to deal with the effects of bullying. 

Bullies and the Bullied: What to Look For

The act of bullying is a sign of insecurity; therefore, bullies usually target kids who aren't confident or assertive enough to stand up to them. Male bullies are easier to detect, as they often have a positive view towards violence and may be aggressive and frequently angry.

Female bullies usually use isolation techniques to bully victims. They spread nasty gossip or lies and try to manipulate others to "hate" the victim. They are often popular and have an obsession with being popular. Female bullies usually have a strong clique of friends.

Spotting a bullying victim, on the other hand, can be hard. They may seem disconnected from school or extracurricular activities. Although they may have outward signs of physical violence (scars, cuts, bruises), they may only complain of non-visible physical ailments (headaches or stomachaches). Often, they will be anxious and suffer from low self-esteem.

Parents' Legal Rights When Dealing With Bullies

If your child has suffered an injury or mental anguish due to bullying at school, it might be necessary to consult a lawyer to ensure your child's well-being. Use TexasLawHelp's Legal Help Directory to find a lawyer. A lawyer will be able to tell you if you have legal recourse for dealing with a school bully.

Parents must decide when the line is crossed and when it is time to take legal action. Sometimes this is a difficult decision. 

Two actionable criminal offenses may relate to bullying:

  • The offense of actual harassment
  • The offense of placing people "in fear of violence."

Schools have a responsibility to thwart bullying, ensuring the safety of all children. Any threatening behavior—psychological or physical—should be documented and addressed with both the victim and the bully. Often, this is enough to stop the bullying act. If not, starting a legal discussion with an attorney might be a good idea to understand your rights.

In Texas, a person who is under age 18 who is being cyberbullied can get a court order against their bully. See Texas Civil Practice and Remedies Code 129A.

What are steps to help deal with bullying? 

Below are some steps that are useful in dealing with bullying. 

  1. Talk: Have a discussion. This applies to all children, teens, and adults. Find someone whom you can trust and tell them exactly what has happened - and how it makes you feel. If you have anyone else that you want to tell your story to, write it down. The idea is to familiarize yourself and others with the situation so you can form a strategy to deal with it. 

  1. Plan: Have a strategy. This doesn't mean "plot to get even." Instead, have a plan of action ready if the bullying occurs again. Most bullies thrive on the reaction and confusion of their victims. Strategies can range from a repeated catchphrase, an exit plan, or an immediate phone call to a friend or parent. The point is to have a plan figured out and practice it so you'll know what to do when faced with bullying again. 

  1. Know: Try to remember the nature of bullying. Knowing that bullying stems from weaker judgment and self-image can be a comforting and powerful realization for victims. This is not a mere suggestion but a truth. In fact, bullying dissipates with maturity. See Bigger Than Bullies.

Related Articles

Related Forms

  • Bigger Than Bullies is a Texas Young Lawyers Association project on stopping bullying (funded by the Texas Bar Foundation).