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What is Bullying?

Every mean action is not bullying. Some people have a tendency to label every rude thing a child says or does as bullying. This belief can dilute the message about bullying. This makes people immune to the severity of bullying and the problem escalates.


Meanwhile, other people do not realize that there are several types of bullying. They may believe that only physical aggression constitutes bullying and forget about the other forms such as cyber bullying, relational aggression, sexual bullying, and verbal bullying.


The definition of Bullying-

Bullying is an ongoing and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviour that intends to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more persons who feel unable to stop it from happening.

Bullying can happen in person or online, via various digital platforms and devices and it can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time (for example, through sharing of digital records).

Bullying of any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders. Single incidents and conflict or fights between equals, whether in person or online, are not defined as bullying.

It includes: -

Power imbalance. When there is an imbalance of power, it is hard for the target to defend him/herself against the bully’s attacks. This difference in power can be physical or psychological. For instance, in cases of physical imbalances, the bully may be older, larger, or stronger. Or, there may be a gang of bullies targeting the victim.

Meanwhile, psychological imbalances are harder to distinguish, but examples include having a higher social status, a sharper tongue, or more influence at school. The result of any power imbalance is that the victim feels weak, oppressed, frightened, and vulnerable.


Repetitive actions. Typically, bullying is not a single act of meanness or rude behavior. Instead, it is usually ongoing and sustained. Bullies often target their victims multiple times. Sometimes the bullying will be the same act over and over like demanding a child’s homework or lunch money. Other times, it will include a variety of actions such as calling the target names, tripping them in the halls, and posting mean and spiteful comments online.

Even patterns of relational aggression are repeated over time. This can involve excluding a person from activities, posting mean things online, spreading rumors, and other subtle methods of emotional bullying. The point is that kids can say and do mean things, but an isolated incident does not constitute bullying. A situation becomes bullying when the torment is consistent and happens more than once.

Bullying usually isn't a one time act. Rather, it represents an ongoing pattern of behavior.


Bullying usually isn't a one time act. Rather, it represents an ongoing pattern of behavior.

Intentional actions. Actions done by accident are nor bullying. The person bullying has a goal to cause harm to the target. Bullies harass other people on purpose. Their behaviour is not accidental and nor is it a joke.

There is nothing funny about bullying for the victim. Instead, the consequences of bullying are grave. Victims may feel embarrassed, ashamed, upset, afraid, sad, or even angry. Bullying can become so mean and tormentous that the victim can begin to worry about going to school.

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