Is That Really Bullying?

Is That Really Bullying?

The first step in the fight against bullying is to define what it is and what it isn’t. We all have a mental image attached to the word bullying that centers around schoolyard fights. However, in order to combat the very real problem of bullying in schools, we have to move beyond this simple definition.

What is bullying

According to, 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. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include an imbalance of power and repetition.”

The four main types of bullying include:

  1. Physical Bullying
  2. Verbal Bullying
  3. Social Bullying
  4. Cyberbullying

To learn more about these types of bullying, visit our bullying prevention blog post.

What is not bullying

We’ve already defined bullying as a pattern of behaviors. This element is essential in labeling an incident bullying. While isolated events should be dealt with, and students should be taught that any behavior hurting another person physically or psychologically is unacceptable, they don’t make the perpetrator a bully. Bullying is never random. Victims are carefully targeted and pursued by the bully. Until a pattern of physical, verbal, social or cyber abusive behavior has been established, bullying has not occurred.

According to, these six behaviors are not considered bullying:

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

It is very natural that people do not like everyone around them and, as unpleasant as it may be to know someone does not like you, verbal and non-verbal messages of, “I don’t like you,” are not acts of bullying.

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.

6. Arguments

Arguments are just heated disagreements between two or more people or groups. It is natural that people have different interests and disagree on many things. It is very important to distinguish between natural disagreements and bullying during an argument.

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