What is bullying?
The definition that is most widely accepted is bullying is when someone repeatedly and on purpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself or herself.
There are some very important connotations related to this definition. First, it is repeated. If a behavior occurs just once it is not considered bullying behavior. It has to be a behavior that is repeated. Second, the intent or the purpose is to be hurtful to somebody else. There needs to be intent and it needs to be associated with an aggressive act. Finally, the person who's being bullied has a hard time defending themselves, meaning that there is an imbalance of power.
Four Markers of Bullying
- A form of aggressive behavior
- Intent to harm
- Repeated over time
- Imbalance of power
In order to identify bullying behavior, there are four criteria. First, it's in the form of aggressive behavior. Second, the intent or purpose is to be hurtful or to create harm. Third, it needs to be repeated. Last, there has to be an imbalance of power. What do I mean by an imbalance of power? This could be numbers such as five young children to one or physical stature where a child is bigger and stronger than the other particular young child. It could also be status, such as a very popular child and a child who is not popular. There are a lot of different ways to describe the imbalance of power.
This Ask the Expert is an edited excerpt from the course, Bully Proofing Your Early Childhood Program, in partnership with Region 9 Head Start Association, by William DeMeo, PhD.