What is bullying?

In recent years, bullying has often been defined as an imbalance of power and occurs when a person or a group of people hurt, scare and/or are mean to someone else (or a group) on purpose, usually more than once.

In fact, it is sometimes very difficult to know if one person or a group is “stronger” and/or whether the person or group is purposefully trying to be mean and cruel. As a result, we suggest that we think about “mean, cruel and/or bullying behaviors”. The bottom line is that no one wants others to treat them in mean, cruel and/or bullying ways! We all need to be learning and teaching in safe, respectful and civic classrooms and schools.

What is an upstander?

An “upstander” is someone who recognizes when something is wrong and acts to make it right. When an upstander sees or hears about someone being bullied, they speak up. Being an upstander is being a hero: we are standing up for what is right and doing our best to help support and protect someone who is being hurt. In many ways, this is another word for being socially responsible.

Types of bullying:

There are all kinds of ways that people bully others. Here are the most common ways that people act as bullies:

  • Shoving, punching, pushing or other ways of hurting people physically
  • Leaving someone out of your group on purpose
  • Ganging up on others. This can be done without being physical or with words. It can be done with mean 'stares' too.
  • Teasing or being mean or inconsiderate in other ways verbally—with words. One of the most common ways that people do this is spreading bad rumors
  • Cyber bullying: Cyber bullying is when kids bully others using texting, email or other technology. Some of the most common examples include: sending hurtful messages, and posting pictures or untrue messages on web sites, blogs or social networks, like Facebook and MySpace.

Why do students bully?

There are lots of reasons that students bully. First of all, too often students see adults being bullies! Sometimes, they think, “if they are doing, I will too!” Here are some other common reasons why students bully:

  • Students sometimes feel that when others in their group are a bully that they need to be too, so they continue to bully to be accepted by the group.
  • When we feel bad about ourselves (for any number of reasons!) being a bully can make us feel 'stronger' in the short run
  • Sometimes people are afraid that if they are not a bully, someone else will bully them! Bullies are often being bullied on other ways—by parents or siblings at home, by teachers, or by others from their neighborhood—and they become a bully to let out their hurt and anger.