What is Bullying?

What is Bullying?

What exactly is bullying? “Bullying,” a term used interchangeably with peer harassment, means aggressive acts made with harmful intent, repeatedly inflicted by one or more students against another. Acts may be physical, verbal, indirect (such as social exclusion), or electronic (such as posting threatening messages to a website). What distinguishes bullying from mere aggression is that bullying is repetitive and involves a power imbalance between a socially powerful perpetrator and a socially weaker victim. Hence, bullies prey on students who are often  marginalized in the wider school community because of actual or perceived differences such as obesity, disability, or sexual orientation.

Julie Sacks and Robert S. Salem, VICTIMS WITHOUT LEGAL REMEDIES: WHY KIDS NEED SCHOOLS TO DEVELOP COMPREHENSIVE ANTI-BULLYING POLICIES,Albany Law School Albany Law Review, , 72 Alb. L. Rev. 147, (2009).

Mental Health Am., Factsheet: Bullying: What to Do About It (2006), http://www.mentalhealthamerica.net/go/bullying

Bullying has sometimes been seen as an inevitable part of school culture or a rite of passage for youth. However, recently attention to bullying has increased dramatically. School personnel and policy makers have recognized that the consequences of bullying can be significant, affecting not only those who are bullied, but also those who bully. Bullying behavior also seriously damages the school climate. Both bullies and victims are at high risk of suffering from serious health, safety, and educational risks. Victims of bullying report more difficulties sleeping, despondency, headaches, stomach pains, and other health symptoms than other children. Victims avoid school, which can lead to lower academic performance. They are more likely to suffer from depression and low self-esteem, and are at increased risk of depression and suicide. Perpetrators are more likely to get into frequent fights, be injured in a fight, vandalize or steal property, drink alcohol, smoke, be truant from school, drop out of school, and carry a weapon.

Nancy Willard, School Response to Cyberbullying and Sexting: The Legal ChallengesBrigham Young University Education and Law Journal Brigham Young University Education and Law Journal, BYU Educ. & L. J. 75-125, (2011).