October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

How Do You Know When It’s Bullying?

The Four Markers of Bullying

Bullying is deliberate, vicious, ongoing aggression towards another person (the victim.)

With the focus on bullying lately, it’s important to be able to differentiate between bullying and other forms of interaction between students such as peer rivalry or interactions between similarly matched students.

How can you tell the difference? How do you know when it’s bullying and when it’s not?

Here are four aspects of bullying that will always be present whenever bullying is present:

1. Imbalance of power:

The bully has some advantage over the victim such as:

  1. Physically bigger
  2. Older
  3. Greater numbers (in the case of groups of bullies / students that bully)
  4. Better verbal skills
  5. More popular
  6. Different race
  7. Opposite sex

2. Intent to harm:

The bully’s primary goal is to inflict pain on the victim – whether it be physical pain, emotional or otherwise. The bully takes delight in seeing their victim in pain and it’s this viciousness, contempt and lack of empathy for their victim that is a hallmark of bullying.

3. Threat of further aggression:

Bullying is not a one-off incident. After establishing his dominance in the role of bully, the bully and victim both know that the bullying will happen again. It’s only a matter of time for the right opportunity, usually one without adults present, to come and the bully to make his next attack.

4. Terror:

With the imbalance of power, the intent to harm, the threat of further aggression and the powerlessness that comes from the combination of these three, the child (victim) effectively lives in a state of terror.

Both the bully and victim know that the victim is unlikely to defend themselves or seek help. With the concept of being a ‘snitch’ or ‘sissy’ prevalent among students, the victim, not wanting to elicit further attacks from other students and being afraid of reprisal from the bully, will in most cases not report the incidents to anyone.

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