Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed persistently towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. The "imbalance of power" may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a "target."
Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. The UK currently has no legal definition of bullying, while some U.S. states have laws against it.
Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more 'lieutenants' who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse. Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.
Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods. It is even a common push factor in migration. Bullying can exist between social groups, social classes, and even between countries (see jingoism). In fact, on an international scale, perceived or real imbalances of power between nations, in both economic systems and in treaty systems, are often cited as some of the primary causes of both World War I and World War II.