What Is Bullying?: An Easy Definition to a Difficult Problem

The topic of much controversy over the last few years has become a question in many a parents mind.  What Is Bullying?  With changes in society, activists speaking out daily and celebrity endorsements fighting against this new crime, do we even know what it really is?  To help you understand more fully what bullying is, we have created a brief definition and check list that will help to educate you and your family so you can become advocates for those who have been bullied, or prevent future bullying from occurring.

Photo Credit: RJH School


Most dictionaries will tell you that bullying is when someone uses their superiority and strength to intimidate and force another to do their will.  Bullying also includes physical and emotional violence toward another individual for the sake of belittling them.  Bullying does not always have a purpose or end result outside of making oneself feel superior and another individual feel inferior.  Bullying is sadly common more in lower income situations, but is also found in mid to upper class income levels as well.  While some factors do tend to be more commonly found in children who become bullies, there is truly no specific recipe for who will be a bully or become a victim.

What Forms Does Bullying Take?

  • Threats of physical harm
  • Physical attacks
  • Spreading of Rumors or Untruths
  • Attack of Character in Social Circles
  • Verbal or Emotional Attacks

Bullying is typically a repeated action toward one or more victims that is meant to make them feel unable to protect or defend themselves.  Although there are circumstances were it can be a one time event, most victims of bullying are repeatedly injured physically or emotionally by their bully.  The constant repetition of the action is a means to break down the other person so they will no longer defend themselves, seek help or feel they are worthy of a specific thing or ability.

To answer the question: What Is Bullying is not an easy concept.  While we know generalities, individual cases have to be viewed to decide if they are indeed bullying.  The most common markers for bullying are indicative of one person working repeatedly to make another person feel inferior or unworthy.  While this can be easy to overcome in adult relationships where there is maturity, experience and logic at hand, a child who is the victim of bullying may be incapable of knowing the words or actions against them are wrong or untrue.

Does this help you answer the question of what is bullying? What would you add to the definition?

5 thoughts on “What Is Bullying?: An Easy Definition to a Difficult Problem”

  1. I appreciate the article as bullying now with social media has even taken a more serious tone and made the ongoing problem worse. I also wish there was more help out there for the bullies and finding out what drives such cruel behaviour.

  2. It seems we’ve been hearing a lot more about bullying lately. I don’t know if it’s because it’s happening more often, or social media makes it more widely known about it. Of course, the rise of social media has also given a new avenue for bullying as well. :-/

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