Bullying (3): What is NOT Bullying?

Man bullying childWhen talking about bullying, it is very important for parents (and teachers and kids) to understand what bullying is not. Many times, a single act or behavior is out of proportion, but it is not considered bullying.

Some people think that bullying is any aggressive behavior and although such behaviors are a source of concern and need attention, it is important to separate them from bullying. As I said in the first chapter of the bullying series, bullying is recurring and deliberate abuse of power.

It is not easy for kids to understand the difference between a deliberate act and an accidental one, but it surprises me that many grownups also talk about things people do to them as if they were done intentionally to hurt them. Such perception is very dangerous, because every minor act of conflict, done without any intention to harm, can escalate and become a big conflict.

Much like in any communication, whether it is verbal or not, there are two sides involved. Bullying is a form of communication and depends not only on the giver but also on the receiver. For an incident to be considered bullying, the aggressor must want to hurt someone and the victim must perceive the incident as a deliberate act of abuse.

It is very important for the victim to know what bullying is not to make sure that when things seem hurtful, they will not fall immediately into the category of bullying, because the way to overcome bullying is different from the way to overcome other hurtful acts.

Read more about bullying

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