What Is Bullying and What Isn’t Bullying?
At Woolavington Village Primary school, we are fortunate that acts of bullying are few and far between. However, it is important that we are all clear about what bullying is and what it isn’t so that we can continue to ensure our children thrive and learn, and to do this they MUST feel safe.
Our values of TRUST (Tolerance, Respect, Understanding, Strength and Trust) play a key part in tackling bullying and all our children and teachers understand the importance of tolerance of difference, respect for others, strength of character and understanding and compassion for others. These values help us to spot and deal with any acts of bullying.
According to StopBullying.gov, the definition of bullying is:
“unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time.”
At Woolavington, we believe in STOP (Several Times On Purpose) to help us decide whether something is Bullying. Here are some pointers about what does and doesn’t constitute bullying.
The key point is that bullying is targeted, intentional, and repetitive. It is a pattern of behaviours that harms a child, and bullying can take various forms.
Four categories of bullying:
1 – Verbal Bullying
This includes teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, and taunting.
2 – Social Bullying
Often referred to as relational bullying, social bullying happens when someone is trying to deliberately hurt another’s reputation. This includes spreading rumors, repeatedly excluding someone, and telling other children not to be friends with someone.
3 – Physical Bullying
This includes hitting, pushing, tripping, stealing possessions, and sexual assault. Boys are more likely to participate in physical bullying than girls.
4 – Cyber-Bullying
Cyber bullies use the internet (social media, mostly) to target their victims. Rumours and insults can quickly spread through social media, and it’s nearly impossible to eradicate them.
Sometimes, we may categorise certain behaviours as bullying, but they’re not deliberate or repetitive. Conflict and drama are not always bullying.
Bullying is NOT:
1 – Excluding someone
It is not considered bullying if children exclude someone on the playground now and then or don’t invite someone to a party. Repeated and deliberate exclusion, however, can be bullying.
2 – Disliking someone
Children may verbally or nonverbally communicate their dislike of another child. This is okay, as long as they don’t start rumors or verbally abuse the other child.
3 – Accidental physical harm
A child might unintentionally bump into or trip another child. This it is not bullying if it is not deliberate.
4 – Being “bossy”
It is natural to want friends to play a certain way, and some children take the role of being the director. Learning to lead skillfully is a lifelong process, and most children haven’t mastered it.
5 – Telling a joke about someone (once)
While this is not great behaviour, it is not considered bullying unless there are repeated instances. Of course we should teach our children that one single joke about someone may hurt that child’s feelings, and it’s not okay.
6 – Arguments
We all argue, and arguments will inevitably happen at school.
7 - Physical fighting
We never tolerate physical violence and children who engage in deliberate ( as opposed to accidental) physical violence always face a consequence for their actions. However, single acts do not constitute bullying.
While the above seven behaviours are not ideal, they are not bullying. We teach children to refrain from acting in ways that may hurt another, whether it’s a one-time thing or not. Nonetheless, it’s important to understand the difference between bullying and general conflict or unskilled behaviour.