3 Types of Prejudicial Bullying

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Children and young people can experience bullying for a variety of reasons. But when it comes to prejudicial bullying, the bullying is focused on factors like the color of a person’s skin, their religious practices, and their sexual orientation.

Typically, prejudicial bullying is based on stereotypes and fears kids have toward people who are different from them. This type of bullying can encompass all the other types of bullying as well. For instance, victims of prejudicial bullying may experience cyberbullying, verbal bullying, relational aggression, physical bullying and sometimes even sexual bullying.

Prejudicial bullying arises from a misguided or learned belief that certain groups of people deserve to be treated differently or with less respect. When prejudicial bullying occurs, kids are targeting others who are different from them and singling them out. Often times, this type of bullying is severe and can open the door to hate crimes.

Anytime a child is bullied because of race, religion or sexual orientation it should be reported. Do not ignore the bullying or hope it will end. There is too much risk that it will escalate. Be sure to address it right away.

Here is an overview of the three types of prejudicial bullying.

Racist Bullying

Unfortunately racism runs deep in our society. Consequently, racist bullying is still an issue in schools. Racist bullying singles out people because of skin color, race or ethnic background. Some children are bullied because they are Black, Middle Eastern, East Asian, Jewish, South Asian, or Latine.

When racist bullying occurs, children are taunted by peers, called names, or excluded from the group because of hatred, fear, or lack of understanding. In some instances, racist bullying may cause children to be embarrassed about their skin color or ethnic background.

To counteract the messages of a racist bully, find ways to help kids feel good about their race or their heritage. Be sure to report all racist bullying, too. Though it may start as one incident, know that racist bullying often escalates into worse offenses. If you are having trouble finding someone to report the incident to, try searching online for your state's resources. Some states even have racism reporting hotlines.

Religious Bullying

Lack of knowledge and understanding about the traditions, beliefs, and etiquette of different faiths can lead to religious bullying. In general, bullies target others because they are different. As a result, kids are taunted and teased about their religious beliefs. 

After 9/11, Muslim students often became targets for bullying. People assumed that because the terrorists claimed to be Muslim that all Muslims were then terrorists. This type of belief comes from fear and a lack of understanding of what it truly means to be Muslim. And it is deeply unfair to Muslim students. There is also a lack of education in our country about Islamophobia and its harmful effects.

Keep in mind that anyone can be bullied because of their religious beliefs. People also are bullied because they are Catholic or Mormon. Atheists can be bullied for not believing in God. Jewish, Hindu, Muslim, and Sikh students especially get bullied because of mixes of antisemitism, Islamophobia, racism, and xenophobia.

Many times, religious bullying results because of preconceived ideas or a lack of understanding about the differences between religions. These differences can include everything from beliefs, fasting, and prayer practices to the type of clothing they wear. Bullies point to these differences as a reason to harass and target the victim.

LGBTQ+ Bullying

LGBTQ+ bullying refers to being physically or verbally harassed because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. LGBTQ+ bullying also can include name-calling, sexual bullying, and cyberbullying. This type of bullying affects people in LGBTQ+ community as well as those who are perceived to be.

In other words, kids do not have to be gay to experience LGBTQ+ bullying. In fact, sometimes kids are taunted and called names simply because they act and express themselves in a gender non-conforming way. Meanwhile, other teens are bullied for being lesbians, gay, bisexual, or transgender. They are treated like outcasts and often ostracized from groups. They endure comments and sometimes even violence.

A Word From Verywell

When administrators or teachers see a pattern of prejudicial bullying in their school or classrooms it is important to address these issues right away. One way to do that is to implement a program that not only teaches tolerance for differences but also educates students about those differences. Eliminating fear and disassociation and increasing knowledge, understanding and empathy should be the goals of the program. 

4 Sources
Verywell Family uses only high-quality sources, including peer-reviewed studies, to support the facts within our articles. Read our editorial process to learn more about how we fact-check and keep our content accurate, reliable, and trustworthy.
  1. Menesini E, Salmivalli C. Bullying in schools: The state of knowledge and effective interventions. Psychol Health Med. 2017;22(sup1):240-253. doi:10.1080/13548506.2017.1279740

  2. Rodríguez-Hidalgo AJ, Calmaestra J, Casas JA, Ortega-Ruiz R. Ethnic-Cultural Bullying Versus Personal Bullying: Specificity and Measurement of Discriminatory Aggression and Victimization Among Adolescents. Front Psychol. 2019;10:46. doi:10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00046

  3. Institute for Social Policy and Understanding. Religious-based bullying: Insights on Research and Evidence-Based Best Practices from the National Interfaith Anti-Bullying Summit.

  4. Earnshaw VA, Menino DD, Sava LM, et al. LGBTQ bullying: A qualitative investigation of student and school health professional perspectivesJ LGBT Youth. 2020;17(3):280-297. doi:10.1080/19361653.2019.1653808

Additional Reading

By Sherri Gordon
Sherri Gordon, CLC is a published author, certified professional life coach, and bullying prevention expert.