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Recognizing Bullying

Dan Olweus, creator of the Olweus Bullying Prevention Program, defines bullying in his book, Bullying at School: What We Know and What We Can Do:

"A person is bullied when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons, and he or she has difficulty defending himself or herself."

This definition includes three important components:

1. Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves unwanted, negative actions.
2. Bullying involves a pattern of behavior repeated over time.
3. Bullying involves an imbalance of power or strength.

In his writings, Dr. Olweus is very clear that bullying is peer abuse that should not be tolerated under any circumstances. Today, more than thirty states have adopted laws against bullying.

Types of Bullying

Bullying can take on many forms. As part of the Olweus Bullying Questionnaire, students are asked if they have been bullied in any of these nine ways:

1. Verbal bullying including derogatory comments and bad names
2. Bullying through social exclusion or isolation
3. Physical bullying such as hitting, kicking, shoving, and spitting
4. Bullying through lies and false rumors
5. Having money or other things taken or damaged by students who bully
6. Being threatened or being forced to do things by students who bully
7. Racial bullying
8. Sexual bullying Learn more about bullying and sexual orientation
9. Cyber bullying (via cell phone or Internet) Learn more about cyber bullying 

Bullying is Not Teasing

It might be hard to tell the difference between playful teasing and bullying. Teasing usually involves two or more friends who act together in a way that seems fun to all the people involved. Often they tease each other equally, but it never involves physical or emotional abuse.

Why Students Bully

Information about bullying suggests that there are three interrelated reasons why students bully.

1. Students who bully have strong needs for power and (negative) dominance.
2. Students who bully find satisfaction in causing injury and suffering to other students.
3. Students who bully are often rewarded in some way for their behavior with material or psychological rewards.

 

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