What picture forms in your mind when you hear the word “bully”? Do you picture a big kid with bulging muscles and a scowl on his face? The traditional image of a bigger kid stealing a smaller kid’s lunch money certainly holds true from time to time.

But did you realize that not all bullies are big? It’s true. Bullies come in all shapes and sizes — and they can be boys or girls. Some bullies — called cyber bullies — can’t even be seen because they cause problems online rather than in person.

When you mention bullying, most kids have a good idea of what it is. Bullying is acting in a way that’s purposefully mean or hurtful toward another person. The targets of bullies are often people who have trouble standing up for themselves.

Bullying actions can take many forms. Sometimes it is physical, such as pushing, hitting or kicking. Many times, though, bullying is emotional, like using hurtful words, teasing or threatening others.

Whatever form the actions take, they can have major effects. Bullying hurts feelings and can make children feel isolated, scared, sad, embarrassed and even sick. Some students who are bullied regularly end up skipping school to avoid bullies.

Why do bullies do what they do? The simple answer is it makes them feel better about themselves and gets them the attention they may be seeking. Bullies get satisfaction from the reaction people have to their actions. When bullies are mean and the target of their actions cries or runs away, this makes bullies feel important and happy because they are in control.

Have you ever been bullied by someone? If you have, you know how bad it can feel. Don’t think you’re alone, though. You might be surprised to learn how many kids have been bullied at one time or another.

Experts believe that as many as 75% of the children in the United States have been bullied at some point in time. unfortunately, being bullied sometimes leads children to bully others as a way of dealing with their own bad feelings from being bullied.

The good news is that, with practice, you can learn how to manage your reactions to bullying. If you don’t give a bully the reaction he or she wants, chances are that you’ll take that power away from the bully.

You can also learn how to create an atmosphere in your school where bullying will not be tolerated. This might include choosing to act with kindness toward everyone you meet. It might also mean not participating when someone is made fun of, and standing up for others who are being bullied.

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