What Are Bias-Based Bullying And Gender Stereotyping?

There are many different definitions of bullying, but most agree on common components:

  • Aggressive Behavior
    • Bullying involves aggressive behavior, which can be physical, verbal, social or through electronic means.
  • Power Imbalance
    • Bullying involves a power imbalance. This power imbalance between parties may be physical, but is just as likely to be power gained from social status, popularity or intellect.
  • Repetition
    • Bullying is repeated over time. Remember that adults don’t see every interaction between students! By the time an adult observes the bullying behavior, it may have already been going on for some time.

One type of bullying, bias-based bullying, is rooted in prejudice and stereotypes related to a person’s identity. The majority of bullying in schools is bias-based bullying, so it is essential to address bias when addressing bullying.

  • Over 75 percent of students who are harassed are targeted based upon race, gender, actual or perceived sexual orientation, national origin, religion or ability.
  • 74.1 percent of students who identify as LGTBQ reported being bullied in the last year.
  • Peer victimization is less likely to occur in schools with LGBTQ-inclusive policies.

Stereotypes are generalizations, applied to an entire group of people, that are usually oversimplified and negative. Even stereotypes that seem positive limit understanding and potential. For example, one stereotype is that boys are better at math than girls. Does this mean that a boy who is better at reading is less of a boy? What kind of message does this send to girls about their own abilities in the classroom?

Gender stereotyping happens early on –– even before birth. During pregnancies, friends and family will often ask the sex of the baby in order to buy different gifts and colors according to gender stereotypes. Gender stereotyping happens all around us, and it can be hard to notice, but ending gender stereotyping allows both children and adults to be themselves.

Gender stereotyping and bias-based bullying is particularly prevalent in elementary school.

Stereotypes can get in the way of children seeing people and their classmates as individuals.

These stereotypes can then lead to bullying, harassment, exclusion and even physical violence.