Bullying Prevention: What is Bullying?
- Deciding on the Appropriate Definition A district may choose to develop a local definition or adopt a definition found in the literature sources or a locally adopted curriculum. Consideration should be given to differentiating bullying from other behaviors such as normal conflicts and harassment.
- Themes Which Define Bullying Behaviors
Display or unjust use of power
Repeated and targeted negative behavior
Intentionally harmful behavior
- Definitions of Bullying
Definitions of bullying are found in a variety of resource materials, curriculum materials, journal articles, and websites. A commonly referenced definition of bullying follows: "A person is being bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly, and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do. Cambridge, MA: Blackwell Publishers, Inc.
- Bullying or Normal Conflict Normal conflict can occur any time or place and is generally accidental and resolved by the parties in the conflict. Bullying behaviors occur where the person bullying feels safe engaging in power-seeking behavior which is intentionally harmful and directed at someone who is considered weak or vulnerable and generally is resolved by third party intervention.
- Bullying or Harassment Harassment behaviors share the common themes found in a definition of bullying and additionally recognize that the behavior is discriminatory toward protected classes of individuals. For example, specific types of harassment would include sexual harassment or racial harassment.
- Types of Bullying Bullying behaviors may be direct or indirect and include verbal and nonverbal behaviors that cause physical, social/relational, or emotional/psychological harm. The following lists provide examples of various types of bullying behaviors. (Adapted from: Bonds, Marla and Sally Stoker, (2000). Bully-Proofing Your School: A Comprehensive Approach for Middle Schools. Sopris West).
- Physical Aggression: harm to a person or a person’s property Examples: pushing, shoving, spitting, kicking, hitting, ruining property, stealing, physically humiliating, locking in a closed space, physical violence against family or friends, threatening with a weapon, inflicting bodily harm
- Social/Relational Aggression: harm to a person’s group acceptance Examples: gossip, embarrassing on purpose, spreading rumors, ethnic slurs, setting up to take blame, publicly humiliating (reveal personal information), excluding from a group or activity, manipulating situation to assure rejection, threaten with total isolation by peers
- Intimidation: harm to a person through pressure or fear Examples: extortion, threatening looks, threaten to reveal personal information, graffiti, publicly challenging to do something, playing a dirty trick, threats of coercion, coercion, threatening with a weapon
- Verbal Aggression: harm to person through spoken words Examples: mocking, name-calling, taunting, teasing about clothing, possessions, or appearance, intimidating phone calls, verbal threats against possessions or of inflicting bodily harm
- Written Aggression: harm to a person through written words Examples: slam books, note passing, graffiti
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