What is the origin for the term "Subtle Bullying"?
BHHS Subtle Bullying Survey
What do you think motivates subtle bullying to occur? (95 answered: 5 skipped)
How has Subtle bullying effected you? (97 answered: 3 skipped)
If you have talked to a counselor or administrator, how has it helped? 83 answered: 17 skipped

What is the origin for the term "Subtle Bullying"?

As used for this survey, it was a term the survey author came up with. "Bullying" is usually too broad of a term and it's usually noticed and it's more physical so the author choose "subtle" because it isn't usually noticed."

Subtle Bullies: Coping with Passive Aggressive People
How to maintain your sanity when dealing with passive aggressive bullies

Interacting and coping with a passive-aggressive person is complicated. Most of the time, her actions are complex, confusing and often used as a way of coping with stress, anxieties and insecurities. People who are passive aggressive often deny that they are hurt, angry or offended. Yet, they will lash out at you in subtle and puzzling ways.

For instance, they may give people the silent treatment, ostracize people from the group, use passive violence like slamming books or doors, or engage in subtle forms of relational aggression. But the person on the receiving end has no idea why this behavior is happening. After all, the passive aggressive person denied she was even angry.

Many times, passive aggressive people are sarcastic, even when sarcasm is an inappropriate response. And when confronted about their mean behavior, they will pass it off as a joke often accusing the victim of being too sensitive. These bullies also tend to seek out people who will not address their actions or hold them accountable. Consequently, they prey on people who are afraid of conflict or who engage in people pleasing. By doing so, they do not have to be honest about their feelings or take responsibility for their actions, but they can still express their hostilities without ever having a real fight.

Common Passive Aggressive Behaviors

It's not always easy to spot this type of bully. Some passive aggressive bullies sabotage others quietly when no one is watching and then act innocent when confronted. Others will be sullen and argumentative. The irony is that beneath this bully's exterior lies low self-esteem, feelings of insecurity and inadequacy and an inability to express anger in a healthy way.

In fact, passive aggressive bullies may not even realize they are angry or feeling resentful because their feelings are repressed. Consequently, they often complain that they are misunderstood and victimized. They also believe others are holding them to unreasonable standards when they are confronted. Here are some behaviors that will help you identify passive aggressive people.

Denial of truth. The passive-aggressive person rarely says what she is really thinking, which can be confusing for people on the receiving end. For instance, when a passive aggressive mean girl is confronted about acting mean, she will feign innocence or deny that she was cruel even though her actions say something completely different.

Blaming. The passive-aggressive person rarely takes responsibility for her actions. If she doesn’t blame you for what happened, then she will blame her teacher, her boss, even the weather. The passive aggressive person cannot ever accept that she is at fault. If something happens, it has to be someone else’s fault. As a result, she engages in minimization and victim blaming on a regular basis.

Mixed messages. Passive-aggressive people hide their resentment about being asked to do something by being accommodating. As a result, they may agree to do something but really are angry about having been asked to do. To relieve some of their resentment, they may give the person making the request the silent treatment. Or, they may talk about the person making the request and even spread rumors or gossip. Other times, they may simply never follow through with what was requested.

Rarely display anger. Passive-aggressive people often stuff their anger. They may even appear happy and accommodating on the outside most of the time. But beware. They will act on their pent up anger by sticking it to someone in an under-handed way. By doing so, they are letting out some of their anger without ever admitting that they are upset. The passive aggressive person often feels she is treated unfairly. She also feels taken advantage of and resentful. As a result, it is not uncommon for passive aggressive bullies to engage in victim-thinking. If someone gets upset because of something she did, then in her mind that person is bullying her. She could never see herself as a bully.

Boundary issues. Passive-aggressive people tend to lack boundaries and gravitate toward others without boundaries. As a result, they often make those who are conflict-averse the focal point of their hostilities by creating drama.

Coping with a Passive Aggressive Bully

Confronting a passive-aggressive person at school or at work requires honesty. Calling the behavior out with no apologies and setting boundaries is essential. Remember, passive aggressiveness is a form of hostility and should be treated as such.

What’s more, passive-aggressive people do not openly discuss issues that may be bothering them. As a result, when confronted they may make inappropriate remarks and mumble under their breath. Do not let this keep you from confronting their behavior. Here are some other ways to overcome the negative effect of dealing with passive aggressiveness.

Be direct. When dealing with a passive-aggressive person, be sure you are assertive and clear about your expectations. You also want to establish boundaries where needed. Make sure everything you say is factual and not emotional. Being clear and level headed are the best defenses against a passive aggressive person.

Control your response. Focus on staying calm, keeping your voice neutral and holding your emotions in check. The less you react to their actions, the less control they have over you. Remind yourself that while you cannot keep a passive-aggressive person from slamming doors and pouting, you can control your response. Make sure you respond in a healthy way to their unhealthy behaviors.

Recognize that you cannot change a passive-aggressive person. While confronting a passive-aggressive bully about her behavior is a positive first step, there is no guarantee the person will accept what you are saying. Instead, focus on what you can do to improve the situation like setting boundaries or communicating honestly about how their actions affect you.

Avoid getting offended. Remind yourself that a passive-aggressive person’s anger stems from her background and is not your responsibility. You do not have to appease the passive-aggressive person. Stick to what you know is right regardless of her underhandedness or demands.

Be empathetic. It is challenging to be compassionate and empathetic toward someone that is so difficult to be around. But in the end, it can be very effective. You could say something like: “It seems like you are frustrated by what happened at practice yesterday. That must be difficult.” Remember, passive-aggressive people feel misunderstood. So, if you try to understand where they are coming from, it can go a long way in helping you cope with their behaviors.

BHHS Subtle Bullying Survey

Q1: Do you think subtle bullying is a problem in BHHS? Responses: 99; Yes 73.74% No: 30.30%
Q2: Have you experienced subtle bullying in the 2017/18 school year? Responses: 99; Yes 58.59%; No 42.42%
Q3: If so, how often? Responses 99; Always 3.03%; Usually 21.21%; Sometimes 28.28%; Rarely 20.20%; Never 30.30%
Q4: Have you participated in subtle bullying? Responses 100; Yes 21.00%, No 82.00%
Q5: Have you seen someone being subtly bullied? Responses: 100; Yes 75.00%; No 25:00%
Q6: What do you think motivates subtle bullying to occur? Responses: 95;

  • People who believe they are privileged and think others are inferior to them.
  • Idk, never done it
  • because they are not popular
  • Problems at home, beatings from high figures of authority.
  • people in this school are so self-consumed, to where it is not right to be different. If you show diversity in this school you get knocked down. No matter what being diverse in Brookings harbor highschool youll get put down and thats thew truth.
  • possibly they could be annoyed by something that had happened so they take it out on other people
  • idk
  • i dont know
  • People not fitting in.
  • pure fun and messing around not knowing its really affecting the person its being done too.
  • anger
  • people cant handle diversity or they think they are better than everyone
  • Girls are rude as heck.
  • jealousy
  • drama between friends, but mainly rumors
  • pain
  • idk
  • weakness
  • Being humiliated or talked about. It might make you want to hurt the other person back.
  • I think that most subtle bullying is motivated by self insecurity
  • not sure
  • hate
  • the person is trying to make them self feel better about them self.
  • to look cool or feel better and to try to be funny and get attention
  • to feel better about themselves
  • Dislike for the person or just "playing "around
  • Differences in people
  • mostly a friend to friend perspective nothing, serious.
  • it makes the person feel better about themselves/ to feel more powerful
  • egos
  • People's cold hearts and the fact that teachers won't react. It's discouraging and personally disgusting.
  • The jokes made among friends and others, or a person known for something usually motivates people to joke, maybe sometimes too far.
  • They might not have a good home life.
  • Because they think that they can't get in trouble if they don't physically fight, or they think its easier to avoid blame.
  • Idk
  • People being insecure can cause them to bully others.
  • Feminists
  • People thinking that what they have to say is more important than the feelings/opinions of others. Also people generally just being horrible human beings.
  • i dont know
  • the enjoyment of causing others physical or mental stress and pain but not wanting to face the consequences
  • Insecurity
  • to get their point across
  • jealously, rumors being spread, fights amongst friends, relationship drama, all kinds of petty things
  • To be funny and try and make a joke.
  • Anger
  • popularity, jealousy, self-hatred, etc.
  • people in life do these things because they want to fit in so much and they cant face the fact their own life is shit so they deside to make others bad so they feel better about them selfs
  • How you dress
  • the haterade towards the person that wronged you or others you know.
  • i don't know
  • You can find the easiest thing to bully anyone about. That's what makes bulling easy.
  • I think it is looking too deep in to problems that don't really exist.
  • Lack of follow through on consequences
  • The fact that people around the culprit find the acts comical is what motivates this behavior.
  • Trying to fit in
  • There are various reasons but one of the most common is the fact that subtle bullying is harder to detect so the abuser believes they will be less likely to be caught in the act. The abused then feels as if they are less likely to be believed if they tell someone about what is going on because they are the only ones who can really detect it and the abuser has kept up their image when no one else notices.
  • Jealousy.
  • Idk
  • the bully is most of the time jealous of you or they have a lot of anger and take it out on you
  • Because they can
  • This is high school, people are petty. We cant just go hit someone or push them around so people resort to mentally screwing people up.
  • I don't know.
  • No consequences or discipline for bullying
  • Super lame kids.
  • The fact that they can get away with it, very easily.
  • Jealousy.
  • I think it's when someone doesn't like a person or the victim looks 'weak' to the bully.
  • People to have bad lives at home
  • Irritation, and or over pride in something.
  • Others happiness.
  • Students thinking they are better than others just because of their grades/clothes/cars/extracurricular activities.
  • Nothing.
  • to make the person feel better or for bad fun.
  • idk
  • Wanting to seem cool and funny to peers
  • To make themselves feel better/ Problems at home
  • Just a natural part of our human nature. It is human nature to want to pick on the weaker people who do not stand up for themselves.
  • Bullies are insecure with themselves.
  • Finding something to make themselves feel better.
  • People just want attention
  • people thinking it's funny to hurt people. or people getting off on others hard times.
  • The subtle bully probably feels insecure or threatened by the person they're bullying.
  • Insecurities
  • Fear
  • People trying to fit in.
  • Insecure people who have nothing better to do.
  • People that are having issues within the family
  • no clue
  • differences in opinion. humor
  • People think their joking but it can be taken seriously
  • Insecurity, a social norm that occurs when someone feels bad and doesn’t take responsibility for their own actions and then takes another persons actions personally
  • I have no idea
  • drama
  • It can be easy to get away with

Q7: What grade are you currently in? Responsed: 100: Senior 3.00%; Junior 43.00%, Sophomore 50.0%, Freshman: 7.00%.
Q8: How has Subtle bullying effected you? (97 answered: 3 skipped)

  • I ignore it because if they feel the need to be mean they aren't worth my time.
  • NONE
  • it hasnt
  • It hasn't. It has affected the people that are close to me though.
  • Its made me realize how shitty everyone in this god-awful school. Even staff subtle bullies you, Ms. Acosta makes students feel awful, just take a poll.
  • it has made some days really difficult
  • it hasnt
  • hasnt
  • The environment is tense and does not feel safe.
  • hasn't effected me, if it happens to me i just laugh it off because its mainly messing around and i know
  • it hasnt
  • i have gotten into fights
  • It hasn't really affected me but i have seen kids drop out because they feel threatened at school because of in direct bullying.
  • i see some of my friends getting bullied and made fun of and it hurts me when i see that happen.
  • It hasn't really this year. Not a big deal.
  • has not
  • idk
  • it never has
  • It hasn't.
  • When someone bullies me I don't take it offensively
  • not that much
  • It doesn't really have an effect on me personally because I simply don't let it bother me.
  • no
  • it doesn't
  • never
  • Not wanting to come to class and skip
  • eh
  • Said at my table about other people
  • It makes you want to stand up to bullies and help others
  • has not changed anything.
  • it has made me feel stupid because i'm a lot more slow at learning because of my epilepsy
  • hasent
  • I weight 200 pounds, I'm not in the petite sizes, so I wore a crop top because I wanted too and boys make vomiting noises at me. Even teachers have told me that I can't wear a crop top but nothing has been said to girls who are skinnier, and their crop tops are shorter than mine. I shouldn't be told that because of my size I can't dress like other girls.
  • I had to deal with a degrading name for most of this school year.
  • My height.
  • It can damage me or my friend's self esteem and can really damage people emotionally. They feel like they can't talk to a teacher or a counsellor about it because subtle bullying cannot be proved.
  • It hasn’t
  • When i'm subtly bullied I find it kind of funny, it can cause me to get heated but not upset.
  • never
  • It has changed my opinion of a lot of people, not the bullyee, but the bully themselves. I have less respect for someone if they can't show it to other people.
  • none
  • I haven't directly been affected
  • It has helped enlighten me to the way humans interact.
  • people have talked bad about me when I am in the room
  • It doesn't really affect me personally, but seeing it happen to friends isn't very cool
  • It has not affected me at all.
  • It made me afraid to come to school, made me fear going anywhere in case i got attacked
  • It's made me depressed, suicidal, insecure, self-conscious, etc. It has caused me to self-harm.
  • it doesn't cause I would turn the bully into the bullied
  • It doesn't
  • I haven't witnessed or had that happen to me so I can't say
  • it hasn't
  • it doesn't really effect me just because I don't really mind what others think.
  • It hasn't that's kind of the point.
  • I don't like school at times.
  • It hasn't had an effect on me
  • It has made me feel small. Helps me know who my real friends are.
  • I have not experienced a lot of this but what I have experienced was not pleasant at all. I was able to ignore the person who was taking these actions because I knew them really well before they started to do it. Basically, I just thought they were being ridiculous so it didn't truly bother me or create a lasting effect on me. However, what was happening could and does affect others, much more severely than it did me, every day.
  • I cannot say if it has affected me very much, I think people need to grow a thicker skin because the world will not consider a dirty look subtle bullying.
  • No Way man
  • making me and others depressed
  • Never has Never will
  • I have a lot of anxiety. I used to be a happy kid with lots of friends then in middle school i became depressed and lost all my friends. they bullied me and called me names and acted like i was crazy. its not as bad anymore but its definatly impacted me to this day. i dont talk to people as much and when i do i feel anxious and regret it. i hate it here and coming to school makes me literally want to die. no im not suisidal, sorry for the spelling im tired af.
  • It hasn't.
  • It made me really self conscious about a lot of things
  • has not.
  • It distracts me in class. Most teachers don't do anything about it.
  • It hasn't. I don't get bullied nor have I seen bullying.
  • I'd rather not answer.
  • It hasnt
  • Made me a cynical, cold, and mean in general.
  • It has made me more afraid of people than I should be.
  • I dropped a college class because I couldn't handle being in the same class as the people who were bullying me. I often left that class in tears due to the treatment I received.
  • not at all.
  • N/A
  • idk
  • Not much, I've gotten use to it
  • no
  • Being a shorter male, I get picked on a lot by everyone and they think that they can get away with it because they don't think I am going to fight back. The way I have combatted that is made sure that I stand up for myself and make myself a dominant presence that other people know not to mess with. It sounds weird, but it has helped me especially on sports teams.
  • It hasnt.
  • Not at all
  • made me do lots of things that arent good
  • it really angers me that people think it's okay to treat others like they are lower than everyone else.
  • It makes me feel low and dumb.
  • It's hard to come to school and stay positive
  • Makes me not want to go home but sometimes i runt to beach and turn off my and go away for while but im hungry now
  • It changes the way you act in school.
  • Someone said I was easy and it hurt me deep inside.
  • It really hasnt effected me
  • nope
  • Its subtle, it doesnt matter
  • It makes me feel like everyone hates me
  • It has made me not want to participate in class discussions. Some people react instead of responding reasonably when they hear something that is foreign to them.
  • It hasnt
  • It hasn’t
  • it hurts my sister
  • It rarely ever affects me

Q9: Have you talked to a counselor or administrator about being bullied? Responses: 100. Yes 15.00%' No: 86.00% 
Q10: If you have talked to a counselor or administrator, how has it helped? 83 answered: 17 skipped; Showing 16 responses

  • no it hasn't helped, and it never will. The school cannot control minds, media does. if you aren't like anyone else then your instantly a bad person. Even without facts just by assumption
  • it wasn't
  • it doesnt really help. i get to talk about whats been happening and i see how things go from there
  • idk
  • It never really is, they ask me how to better approach the situation and to use non fighting words, But when someone says something like that to you, you can't ignore it.
  • It helped me decide how to end, and what to do when it happens
  • They helped me leave an abusive relationship.
  • I have notified the counselor about it, but given time and a break, it has become less of a problem. But that is only for one case.
  • They didn't really. There wasn't anything they could do
  • Just being able to talk to someone about my problems and being able to get help. Having someone there makes you feel like maybe people do care but I stopped going because I realized that it's their job to listen. They have to listen.
  • When they call for me, I never actively seek them out to tell them my problems.
  • It didn't
  • It was when I was in middle school, and it helped me realize I needed different friends who wanted to help me rather than hurt me.
  • i didnt
  • They stopped talking to me but not about me


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