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What Is Bullying (and What Isn't Bullying)?

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Post #1 (5-Part Series)



At COMPASSION IT, we encourage schools and parents to introduce compassion to prevent and curb bullying. Our reversible wristbands are an easy and tangible tool that make compassion accessible for all ages.

What Is Bullying and What Isn’t Bullying?

If you’re a parent or an educator, you might share my fears. My 9-year-old daughter, Hannah, hasn’t been bullied yet, but I know it could start happening any day. How will I be able to recognize if a someone is targeting Hannah? How will I handle that? Or what will I do if SHE is bullying others?

In order for children to thrive and learn, they need to feel safe. If you are an educator or a parent, it’s important to understand bullying and how compassion can be its antidote. That’s why I’m creating a five-part anti-bullying series to help understand the definition of bullying, how to spot bullying, and why it’s important to bring compassion into the mix.

According to StopBullying.gov, the definition of bullying is:

“unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”

The key point is that bullying is targeted, intentional, and repetitive. It is a pattern of behaviors that harms a child, and bullying can take various forms.

Four categories of bullying:

1 – Verbal Bullying

This includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, and taunting.

2 – Social Bullying

Often referred to as relational bullying, social bullying happens when someone is trying to deliberately hurt another’s reputation. This includes spreading rumors, repeatedly excluding someone, and telling other children not to be friends with someone.

3 – Physical Bullying

This includes hitting, pushing, tripping, stealing possessions, and sexual assault. Boys are more likely to participate in physical bullying than girls.

4 – Cyber-Bullying

Cyber bullies use the internet (social media, mostly) to target their victims. Rumors and insults can quickly spread through social media, and it’s nearly impossible to eradicate them.

Sometimes, we may categorize certain behaviors as bullying, but they’re not deliberate or repetitive. Conflict and drama are not always bullying.

Bullying is NOT:

1 – Excluding someone

It is not considered bullying if children exclude someone on the playground now and then or don’t invite someone to a party. Repeated and deliberate exclusion, however, can be bullying.

2 – Disliking someone

Children may verbally or nonverbally communicate their dislike of another child. This is okay, as long as they don’t start rumors or verbally abuse the other child.

3 – Accidental physical harm

A child might unintentionally bump into or trip another child. This it is not bullying if it is not deliberate.

4 – Being “bossy”

It is natural to want friends to play a certain way, and some children take the role of being the director. Learning to lead skillfully is a lifelong process, and most kids haven’t mastered it.

5 – Telling a joke about someone (once)

While this is not great behavior, it is not considered bullying unless there are repeated instances. Of course we should teach our children that one single joke about someone may hurt that child’s feelings, and it’s not okay.

6 – Arguments

We all argue, and arguments will inevitably happen at school.

While the above six behaviors are not ideal, they are not bullying. As parents and educators, we should teach children to refrain from acting in ways that may hurt another, whether it’s a one-time thing or not. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand the difference between bullying and general conflict or unskilled behavior.

More information:

Order COMPASSION IT wristbands as a simple tool for introducing compassion to children.

For more information, check out "Is it Rude, Is it Mean, or Is it Bullying" by author and bullying expert Signe Whitson

Sources include: StopBullying.gov, Pacers Kids Against BullyingFamily Matters Practical Parenting Blog

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