Dear Parents and Guardians,
What is bullying? At first glance, many people might think this behavior is easy to define. Their first image of bullying might be of a physically intimidating boy beating up a smaller classmate. While that would still be considered bullying today, parents need to know that bullying behavior can be much more complex and varied than the stereotype. For example, harmful bullying can also occur quietly and covertly, or through gossip or the Internet, and can cause significant emotional damage.
The definition of bullying will vary by school and state. While there are significant differences between definitions, most include the following traits:
- Behavior that hurts or harms another person physically or emotionally.
- An inability for the target to stop the behavior and defend themselves.
- An imbalance of power that occurs when the student doing the bullying has more physical, emotional, or social power than the target.
- Repetitive behavior; however, bullying can occur in a single incident if that incident is either very severe or arises from a pattern of behavior.
The types of Bullying: The behavior can be overt and direct, with physical behaviors, such as fighting, hitting or name calling, or it can be covert, with emotional-social interactions, such as gossiping or leaving someone out on purpose. Bullying can also happen in-person, online or through smart phones and texts.
Help your child identify bullying. If your child tells you about a situation and you aren’t sure if it’s bullying, use this checklist:
- Does your child feel hurt, either emotionally or physically, by the other child’s behavior?
- Has your child been the target of the negative behavior more than once?
- Does your child want the behavior to stop?
- Is your child unable to make the behavior stop on their own?
If the response to one or more of these questions is “yes,” the more likely it is that the behavior would be considered bullying.