What is Bullying?

  • Bullying can be defined as being exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more students (Olweus, 1993). There are three key components to all bullying situations.

    1. There is always a power differential between the bully and the victim that is acquired through physical size, strength or status.
    2. There is intent to harm; the child who is bullied is put in the position of oppression by the child who bullies.
    3. Finally, bullying is a repeated rather than singular event.

    Direct bullying involves an open attack on a person or property, such as pushing someone into a locker or destroying homework. Indirect bullying is more subtle and covert, such as social isolation or exclusion. Types of Bullying Behavior:

    • Verbal bullying includes taunting, teasing, name-calling, extortion, and threats.
    • Physical bullying is harm to a person or property.
    • Relational aggression is harm to someone’s self-esteem or group acceptance.
    • Sexual harassment is any inappropriate sexual comment, gesture, or behavior including offensive jokes, pictures and rumors that offend others.
    • Cyberbullying is using the internet or other digital communication devices to send or post harmful or cruel text or images.

    Research shows that without intervention, bullies are more likely to develop a criminal record and engage in antisocial behaviors while bullying victims suffer long-lasting psychological harm (Olweus, 1993). Those who bully have more cases of alcoholism and substance abuse, more antisocial personality disorders and are more likely to drop out of school. Children who are bullied have lower self-esteem and higher levels of stress, anxiety, depression, illness, and suicidal ideation.

    Bullying is not a normal part of growing up! It is important to distinguish between what is normal behavior and what is bullying.

    Bullying and Conflict

    Conflict is a normal part of life whereas bullying is a harmful form of peer abuse. Conflict is generally not a repeated behavior and there is a relatively equal balance of power between those involved.

    Bullying and Teasing

    Teasing is a normal part of growing up. Teasing is when everyone involved is having fun. There is an equal balance of power. It becomes bullying if one person is no longer having fun because the balance of power has changed and someone is being physically or emotionally hurt.