Definition of Bulling
The definition of Bulling is when an individual or a group of people with more power repeatedly and intentionally cause harm or injury to another person or group of people who feel powerless to respond. Bulling can continue over time, is often hidden from adults, and will likely continue if no action is taken.
While the definition of bulling is broad and can occur in a variety of settings, it is generally a relationship problem and requires relationship-based solutions. These are best resolved in the social environment in which they occur: in a child’s or young person’s life, this is often the school.
Bulling is an unwanted aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power. The behavior is repeated or has the potential to repeat itself over time. Both children who are bullied and those who bully others can have serious and lasting problems.
To be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and inclusive:
- An imbalance of power: children who bully use their power, such as physical force, access to embarrassing information, or popularity, to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
- Repetition: Bullying behaviors occur more than once or have the potential to occur more than once.
Bulling includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and deliberately excluding someone from a group. Bulling can occur during or after school hours. While most bullying occurs in the school building, a significant percentage also occurs in places such as the playground or on the bus. It can also happen while traveling to or from school, in the youthful neighborhood, or on the Internet.
Bullying is a continuous and deliberate misuse of power in relationships through repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviors that are intended to cause physical, social and/or psychological harm. It can involve an individual or a group misusing their power, or perceived power, over one or more people who feel unable to prevent it from happening.
Bulling can occur in person or online, through various platforms and digital devices and can be obvious (overt) or hidden (covert). Bullying behavior is repeated or has the potential to repeat itself over time (e.g., by exchanging digital records).
Bulling in any form or for any reason can have immediate, medium and long-term effects on those involved, including viewers. Individual incidents and conflicts or fights between peers, either in person or online, are not defined as bulling.
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