Is It Bullying?

With all of the media coverage and educational emphasis on the problem of bullying, it would be easy to categorize bullying as an epidemic. It would also be easy to fall into thinking that developmentally normal behavior, such as conflict, could be categorized as bullying.

So how can we tell the difference between bullying and developmentally appropriate conflict?

Conflict is Normal

Conflict is a part of everyday life. As adults, we maneuver ourselves away from conflict throughout our days, and sometimes we know that it just happens. It goes without saying, then, that some conflict is normal in our children’s lives in the same way that it is normal in our lives. It is only because of our experience in dealing with conflict that we, as adults, now know how to deal with conflict ourselves. In fact, many adults attribute the difficulties that we have faced in conflict with others as areas of growth that have built our resilience and helped us face life’s adversities.

As adults – whether parents, school officials, or community members – we need to recognize that some of what we call “bullying” may actually be developmentally appropriate conflict and is a normal part of growing up.

Learn more: What’s normal during each age and stage?

Recognizing Bullying

Bullying is a complex problem, but there are good tools and resources that can help parents, educators, and caring adults identify bullying behavior. Did you know that there are four, specific characteristics that can qualify a situation as bullying? The behavior has to be intentional, be repetitive, be hurtful, and involve an imbalance of power.

  • Intentional—Children can hurt other children by accident. Bullying, however, is always intentional and meant to cause some sort of harm, whether it is physical or verbal. This behavior may persist even after the victim has asked the bully to stop.
  • Repetitive—In most cases, bullying happens repeatedly. Bullies often target children who they know will not do anything about the behavior, so they can continue bullying as long as they like.
  • Hurtful—Bullying is a negative behavior that may include physical or verbal harm. The types of hurtful behavior that qualify as bullying are varied, but they all cause harm of some sort to the victim.
  • Imbalance of power—If two children hold an equal amount of power, one cannot bully the other. This imbalance of power can come from different sources, including age, size, strength, and social status.

Download the Signs of Bullying >>

When to Step In

We have this same issue in our adult lives as well, and there are laws to protect us when conflict crosses the line into adult-size bullying. We cannot legally threaten, harm, or harass each other; when we do, there are procedures in place to bring the “bully” to justice. Because we are adults and because we have learned that threatening, harming, and harassing each other is not right, this system works. This is not the case with children—yet. When dealing with children, we have to both educate and protect. We cannot simply expect proper behavior in the same way that we can from our coworkers or our friends, and we cannot simply turn our children over to the criminal system when they harm or threaten one another. Instead, we need to model behavior that teaches children how to communicate and go through conflict with others.

Learn more: Teaching kids to resolve conflicts peacefully >>

At the same time, we need to hold children accountable for their actions, correct their misbehavior, and help them how to make better choices in future situations. At times, drastic interventions may be required such as having children attend anger management classes or go to individual and/or family counseling. Like some adults, some children may need to be detained if their behavior is so threatening to others that they cannot safely remain in their homes or schools.

See resouces for stepping-in on bullying behavior >>

We all had to learn to deal with conflict just like our children will need to learn. At the same time, though, we have to ensure that children are safe and protected. This is not easy! Just as we take action once someone crosses the line from conflict into crime, we must act once children begin harming others in ways that are intentional, repetitive, hurtful, and cause an imbalance of power—or in the most extreme cases—life-threatening.

Helping Kids Rise above Bullying

While devising programs and plans to reduce the incidence of bullying is important, these actions can only do so much. All adults need to realize that they play an important role in preventing bullying. The action steps that adults can take start at home, and spread to schools and entire communities. These action steps are called building resilience, and it’s the long-term solution to addressing bullying and other risky childhood behaviors.

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we need to stop bullying because is effecting students future and tou to if you don’t stop bullying it would enffect your life with no wife or husband no were to live and have noth ing to eat.

by daniel gomez

Bullying each other need to be stop for once.The person that bully others have a problem

of low self-esteem.If this keep continuous can led to a suicide.

by Mrs.Martinez

Dont know why some kids do the bullying thing it just as to Stop…Its not cool and its not safe at to those that they hurt…By:Carol Thomas

Strickter rules for the schools on bullying. If a child reports to a teacher that he/she is being bullied and the teacher does nothing about it ,should be suspended for a week with no pay.A bully will butter up to a teacher so that teacher thinks that bully wouldn’t do any such thing.The poor child who,s being bullied has no where to turn.God be with these kids who feel so alone


We Need To STOMP out Bullying :)

Education is very good in the school, bullying is apparently a rampant problem and.
bullying is really a growing concern both for parents and schools. The best thing you can do parents to your child is that be supportive and listen to your child if they confide in you about bullying. Encourage your children who are being bullied to develop good friendships. I would like to share this link, about a service on how to protect your children. Here’s the link:

Stricter rules needed at schools. In one month my child attacked 3 times by same bully, one physical assault, another threat to punch her in the face, and another agrressive approach. School says this is not bullying because it is not “persistent”. My daughter is 5, bully is 7 and a big boy. Crazy!

Stricter rules needed at schools. In one month my child attacked 3 times by same bully, one physical assault, another threat to punch her in the face, and another agrressive approach. School says this is not bullying because it is not “persistent”. My daughter is 5, bully is 7 and a big boy. Crazy!

I think bullying is horrible, my son was bullied once and I thought I took care of it and now hes in a different school and I think he is again but not telling me from his behavior and acting out but hes a excellent student and he will come home with marks on him and tell me he fell into the locker or hit the door and I asked him if anyone hurt him and he was defensive..and I said I promise I will not react like I did the last time when you got bullied but please talk to mom, hes in sixth grade and my sons quiet into sports and not a fighter and I even put him in tae kown do for this so he can defend himself and he loves it and I just dont know what to do..any suggestions? we are very close but I think he is scared to tell me because he knows how I am and I dont want to be like that, but thats a normal mothers reaction when someone is bothering your child..I am sure mothers out there understand..I dont know what to do, I cry and am upset and being that hes older I cant go in the school and see what is going on, I wish I could put a hidden camera in his backpack but I cant..Does anyone face the same situation? Thanks

we need to stop bullying

I think this BIG serious NEEDS to nipped the butt once and for all. It need to STOP! Some one needs to speak up and do something about this. It only takes one person to speak up about this to stop it. Bullying in public and bullying on the computer REALLY needs to stop. It’s SO wrong and very hurtful. On Glee, Kurt gets bullied by a tough football jock that keeps pushing hard against the locker REALLY hard.And nobody doesn’t do anything about it. Even gay people get bullied. Or someone with a physical or mental disability get bullied too. And geeks and nerds also bullied because they are smart. It’s NOT very nice at all and should end. Every cyberbullying needs to also stop which is also very hurtful. Saying mean things to someone else they don’t know on the computer is NOT at all very nice. I feel very strongly about this BIG issue. This the only BIG issue I stand up on. We need to put a stop to bullying and cyberbullying once and for all. Who is with me on this? Anyone?
If we let this BIG issue keeping going and don’t stop it, somebody is going to end up in the hospital. This is a very serious issue.

With three grown, yes, happy and successful adult children, my husband always counseled me to allow each one of them to handle their own situations.Often, when I worried about a situation one of our kids was in, my husband (raised in East Tennessee) would say:” Don’t splash the water out of their mudholes.”

But with timid children, you need to counsel them to attend an educational program that will give them ideas about how to handle the situation THEMSELVES.
they need to attend a anti-bullying seminar to help them be more assertive if clearly the situation involves intentional, repetitve, hurtful imbalance of power.

They need others’ ideas on how to change their reponses.

Having been a teacher and my husband a substitute and tutor in a demanding urban area, we have written a book called: “In Your Face,” that centers around the bully Charlene and her eventual encounter with Thea who employed only a few techniques she had learned, to signal her strength and to send the bully away. The book is available on


I am not sure how many of you actually read what I put on Facebook, but this might be worth a moment of your time…

First, I would like to clear up something that, apparently, has been going around for quite some time. I turn 18 years old on Thursday. I have not had a girlfriend yet. That is unusual for someone my age in t oday’s world. I get that. So, to all who are speculating, I am going to clear this up once and for all. I AM NOT GAY. It is troubling to me that these types of rumors go around just because an individual chooses not to have a girlfriend in middle or high school.

I know that, in today’s society, it’s hard to “fit in” and still be yourself. So, I will tell you that pretty much from 8th grade to the end of high school, I never fit in. I bowl competitively. I like to spend time with my family instead of with friends. In eleventh grade, I had to transfer high schools because I was so stressed, I wore my immune system down t o where I was sick all the time. I NEVER fit in. But, I will never stop being myself and be somebody else just to fit in. Take two of the famous people I admire most – Tim Tebow and Taylor Swift. Tim Tebow was in a similar position to mine when he was in college. He was criticized for being openly religious and laughed at for still being a virgin. But he didn’t care. He knew his morals were in the right place, even if most people didn’t support him. Taylor Swift (one of my favorite musicians and role models) kept true to who she was, despite not being all that popular in middle and high school before her rise to stardom in 2006. Ironically, these are two people I was generally made fun of for supporting and looking up to.

So, why the long rant? Because, as another school year starts and, specifically, the Class of 2012 gets a fresh start in college, I challenge you not to judge someone on material possessions, what music they listen to, etc… Instead, see what kind of person they are. Get to know your fellow classmates. Eat lunch with the kid sitting by himself. Then, challenge them to pay it forward. If we can all do this to make teenagers (and adults too) feel better about themselves, we can end bullying and make the world a better place. Who knows – you might just start a revolution.

we have no law in this town so there for bulling childern can get away with what they do

My daughter has been getting bullied since the first day of school August 20 and jumped by multible of girls and nothing has been done. The staff would act as if they were trying to hold the bullies and then let them go to get my daughter. One staff even said let them fight. My daughter cries not to go to school she is scared and I am to for her life. I have been going to the school since the 21st of august, what can I do to solve this


Thank you for this!

This is a great article…

I’m bullied and frankly im sick of it. A lot of kids want to fight me all because I’m in karate and i going up for my black belt testing. i was bullied so bad before that i cut myself 5 times because i couldn’t take it. I have found that im done with caring anymore. i just be myself now and im actually a whole lot happier than what i was. I don’t cut anymore. I mean it was so bad i seriously thought about suicide but then i thought about my real friends and my family and all the people who love me and didn’t do it. i have wasted too many tears and im done. And to everybody who is being bullied just stand your ground you are a better person than they are you are beautiful on the inside and out. live life to the fullest and don’t back down.

Bullies are allowed to do it because the parents of these bullies say my child wouldn’t do that they give there child the wrong messages that is ok to do it by saying
this when confronted by the victims parents.

There is no help for the bullied and there is no discipline for the bullies so it goes on

I have a very very serious situation at school with my daughter and her bully and yes it has to stop ive tried everything i could to stop it the first step was to contact the principle mr.nance he did nothing but sit in he chair i guess and the the teacher mrs hardy new all last year my daughter was being bullied at the end of the year mrs hardy 5 th grade teacher at maywood elementry school desided to have a picnic at her house it was all nice and fine untill she invited the bully and her daughter to the picnic and the bully didnt even earn it cuse the bully wasnt in my daughters class room well now we move on to 6 th, grade edgars middle school last year i asked mr harring not to put my daughter in the class room with her daughter welp i found out 1st week of middle school not only one but haaa two class my daughter had w the bully so then i went to court to file a restraining order she shows up with letters not signed by the principle mr nance and mrs hardy from last year printed out but not signed basicly making my daughter look bad as if she is not beimg bullied i need help is there anything i can legalized in this matter with the old school mr nance and mrs hardy!

There should be ZERO tolerance in schools for bullying. There should be a severe punishment the first time a child bullies another child, this would set a good example and would STOP the bullying. And what I mean by severe, is a 5 day suspension the for the first offense and suspended for good the 2nd offense for all kids involved and for any form of bullying. And the principal should not be concerned about pissed off parents, his concern should only be for the children in the school. This would truly help in schools.

I have a 10year old grandson who is bullying the 7 year old.His parents have given him the green light to ‘sort’the 7 yr old because he deserves it.I recently, the New York, witnessed the 10 yr old push and shove and chest up to the 7 year old like it was a street fight front of the parents consequence..just a wimpy..“hey dont do that he didnt do anything”.The 10 year old turned away ran down the stairs ..yes he started it ..nothing happened.The altercations between the two has become epidemic.The 7 yr old runs away like climbs on the house roof because no one believes him.He comes to my home 2 doors away to have some peace because the 10 yr old “keeps beating me up”.I believe this is happening often, I see big shadows under the eyes of the 7 year old now and then and wonder whats going on .
I feel for the little one because hes gettung beaten up by his older brother whom he adores and respects his opinion on kid stuff
What shall I do

fox anti bullying


I've been bullied a lot now I know I need to take a stand

Now i know when im bullied that i should take a stand

I am a mother to a 9yr old daughter. I am live in Glasgow. I am South African and my daughter was born there.Her dad is Scottish and we moved here nearly four years ago. We were never welcomed in our street as we were foreigners.My daughter has been made fun off and told to go back to her own country since she was six. Everyone in our street and the streets surrounding ours are related one way or another to each other so everytime something happens everyone is out and gets together and gangs up on us. This has been my personal experience with attemting to resolve the issues with the parents of the other children involved. After my daughter came in crying again and saying that she was told to go back to her own country and not in these polite words, i decided enough was enough and went to knock on the parents door. I explained what had happend and asked for the mum to please tell her child not to say those things again and to leave my daughter alone. I was shouted at and sworn at and told not to tell her what to do with her children. Needless to say that the entire neighbourhood was out at her gate to support her after hearing the commotion of swearing and carrying on. It is mostly only one family that we have the same problems with .No police was called or involved and we just tried to leave it be and told our daughter to leave it and just ignore it if they say it again. It still continued and eventually we started shouting at our child and told her to stay away from them even if the come close to her .Their parents just told them to ignore what we say. The mother said that our daughter has to learn to grow up the glasgow way and grow some b***s.This has continued for almost 4 years now and everytime theres an incident with our daughter and their children my daughter is too scarred to even go out the door.Talking to the children direct doesnt help either because they laugh in your face and tell you they not scarred of you. Their mum said they can do and say whatever they want. They swear at you and you just have to take it because they have the upper hand. On one occasion police was called and we were told that if their children say we threathened them then they have to go by what the child said,but when my daughter told the police that the mother shouted and swore at her and told her that she will come to my door and bash my face in because she cant take it out on my daughter we were told its her word against the mothers, because the mothers friends and family all said she never said anything like that my 9 year old is called a liar and we are told to just stay inside and avoid them. Where is the justice in that? I was threathened by the parent and she shouts and swears just like her children so everyone can hear and because we are the outsiders we are to just leave it and let them continue bullying our child . My daughter is no angel just like any my child has her moments but at least i can admit it . How can i protect my daughter when nobody is there to help protect her rights.




I love the following comments above: anonymous Mon, 2012-02-20 Bullies will indeed butter up teachers so they don’t get in trouble.

anonymous Mon, 2013-09-17 Bullied kids need to know they are beautiful inside and out and way better people than their attackers. So, stand up, don’t back down, and definitely live your life to the fullest. anonymous Wed, 2013-12-04 Zero tolerance in schools would be excellent! 5 day suspension 1st offence, expulsion for the 2nd!! Right on!! Let’s take care of our wonderful children!!! Not the bullies…....

Ugh _ So what about the kids who are labeled a bully and maybe they just said a mean thing or were rude. Does that make them a bully????? I do not think so!
My daughter has been labeled a bully after an anti bullying video – the teacher told the kids they could privately write down a name and details if they had felt bullied, In a class of 23 – 5 kids said something about my daughter. I know she can be mean sometimes or even rude but for her classmates to label her a bully, in my opinion, is bullying. The instances were ridiculous – typical 6th grade behavior. If not for this exercise I doubt it would have been anything they would have ever mentioned. So now she is afraid to be herself at school for fear she will be expelled. Isn’t this bullying? % kids labeling her a bullying without ever talking to her, confronting her or telling a teacher about how they were feeling. I know some kids are afraid, but seriously even the most sensitive kids need to tell someone when they don’t like something. And by the way, my daughter denies saying the things that have been said that she did. And I believe her.

(By Ronit Baras, Bullying Series on Family Matters Parenting Blog)
All the following behaviors are unpleasant and need to be addressed, but they should not be treated as bullying. Many times, labeling a single act of aggression can turn it into bullying just by perceiving it that way.
These incidents are NOT considered bullying:
Not liking 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.
Being excluded — Again, it is very natural for people to gather around a group of friends and we cannot be friends with everyone, so it is acceptable that when kids have a party or play a game at the playground, they will include their friends and exclude others. It is very important to remind kids they do the same thing sometimes too and, although exclusion is unpleasant, it is not an act of bullying.
Accidentally bumping into someone — When people bump into others, the reaction depends mostly on the bumped person’s mood. If they have had a bad day, they think it was an act of aggressive behavior, but if they are in the good mood, they smile back and attract an apology. This is also relevant for playing sport, like when kids throwing the ball at each other hit someone on the head. It is very important for teachers and parents to explain that some accidents happen without any bad intention and it is important not to create a big conflict, because it was NOT an act of bullying.
Making other kids play things a certain way — Again, this is very natural behavior. Wanting things to be done our way is normal and is not an act of bullying. To make sure kids do not fall into considering it as an aggressive or “bossy” behavior, we need to teach them assertiveness. If your kids come home and complain that Jane is very bossy and she always wants things to be done her way, you can show them that they want it too and that Jane is miserable, because she is not flexible enough and she will suffer in life for insisting that things be done her way. Again, although it is not fun or pleasant, this is NOT bullying.
A single act of telling a joke about someone — Making fun of other people is not fun for them, but the difference between having a sense of humor and making fun of someone is very fine. It is important to teach kids (and grownups) that things they say as jokes should also be amusing for the others. If not, they should stop. Unless it happens over and over again and done deliberately to hurt someone, telling jokes about people is NOT bullying.
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. Think about it, most of us have disagreements with ourselves, so it is very understandable to have disagreements with others. The argument itself is NOT a form of bullying, although some people turn arguments into bullying, because they want to win the argument so much. They use every means to get what they want and find a weakness in the other person, abuse knowledge or trust they have gained and use it against the other person. It is very important to distinguish between natural disagreements and bullying during an argument.
Expression of unpleasant thoughts or feelings regarding others — Again, communication requires at least two players. Although it may be unpleasant to hear what someone thinks about you, it is NOT a form of bullying but a very natural thing. In every communication, there are disagreements and some form of judgment about each other’s attitude and behavior. If someone says to you, “I think this was not a nice gesture” or “You insulted me when you said this,” this is NOT bullying but an expression of thoughts and feelings.
Isolated acts of harassment, aggressive behavior, intimidation, or meanness— The definition of bullying states that there is repetition in the behavior. Bullying is a conscious, repeated, hostile, aggressive behavior of an individual or a group abusing their position with the intention to harm others or gain real or perceived power. Therefore, anything that happens once is NOT an act of bullying.

As a parent, it is important that you pay attention to what your kids are telling you and find out if things are happening more than once. Educate your children.

My understanding of bullying at school is when one kid manipulates others to exclude the bullied child from the group by using different methods, like laughing at that child, talking bad about him and making that child constantly be upset in the class.
Sometimes, teachers do provoke that kind of situation. For example, it is much easier for some teachers to lead the class through the class leader. They choose someone from the class who, teachers think, has influence on other children behavior in order to make the communication for teacher with children in the class easier. In that case, teacher tells the class leader to straighten up some children.
If that leading child has a bullying personality, he/she will make other kids constantly be afraid of him/her. Kids better choose to help the bullying leader to physically or virtually torture someone rather than be bullied by him. The bullying leader feels protected by teacher and could really make the situation in the class miserable for some kids but easier for teacher.
Teachers, please, recognize this kind of situation in the class and make the atmosphere there pleasant for every child.


Thanks for the information. Is there a place I can get a question answered? Here is my question: I walked into the school yesterday and the first thing I saw was my 6 yr old in the hall and another kid kept poking him. My son had a smile on his face but at the same time, his voice was shakey and he said “stooooop! Stooop!” the boy did not stop but when I came right up to them the boy turned around and smiled ever so sweetly and said “hello”. Then, they turned a corner and the boy did it again because he thought I could not see. Both both boys had smiles on their face, but my son was more against the wall and whinning for him to stop, yet he dd have a smile. So, it took me a moment to think, were they just playing. Well, the bell rang and my son said that he did not like it and the boy was bullying him. When I saw the other boy walk past, in front of teachers I said “when he asks you to stop, he shouldn’t have to ask you twice! you stop when someone says stop right away, you understand?!” the boy shook his his head yes and I walked away before the principal or teachers could say anything. I knew they were there but I did not care. My boy is not the type to go to the teachers for anything. He is afraid of authority…maybe? I don’t know why. What should I have done and what should I do now? We did come home and practiced saying stop it without a smile on his face!