What Bullying Is Not – Know the Difference

My daughter has come home frustrated or upset with some situation that happened to her at school. Not every situation can be defined as bullying. We talk about those so that she knows what bullying is not. I want her to know that we can’t always say we are being bullied.

School has just begun for another year and we need to have discussions with our kids on Bullying and what Bullying is not. We need to stop it before it even begins.

What Bullying is not?

Bullying can take on many forms these days and it’s a problem faced by a lot of elementary schools. It can sometimes be difficult to determine what bullying is, and more importantly, what it isn’t. The trouble is, labelling just any aggressive behaviour as bullying can actually make the problem worse. It can unnecessarily turn a minor issue into a major one.

There’s also the risk that if the term bullying is thrown around to describe any negative behaviour that it could start to jeopardize all of the hard work anti-bullying organizations, schools and parents have done.
If you’re unsure what constitutes as bullying, below you’ll discover everything bullying is not.

Negative Behaviours

Bullying is Not

There’s no denying bullying isn’t always easy to pick up on. There are some behaviours which are sometimes labelled as bullying, even though they’re not. Just some of the behaviours elementary school children may display which aren’t considered bullying, include:

  • Saying they don’t like someone
  • A child wanting everything they’re own way
  • The single joke being told about someone
  • Arguments
  • A one-off act of aggression

All of these behaviours aren’t necessarily nice, but they aren’t bullying either. We don’t always like everyone we meet so just because a child may not like another doesn’t mean it’s bullying. If they were to go on and verbally abuse or pick on another child because they didn’t like them, however, that would be bullying. Most children will recognize a one-off incident and will be sorry and a bully will not.

Childhood Development

Elementary school children are still developing. So, one child could be a little more insistent and want everything to go their own way. They could be pretty bossy with other children to try to get them to do things their way. Again, this isn’t bullying.

Bullying is Not

One-off jokes also shouldn’t be viewed as bullying. Children do tell jokes about others if they’ve heard adults or other children do the same. However, if it’s a one-off joke rather than repeated ones, it isn’t a sign of a bullying issue. The same applies to one-off acts of aggression. They should absolutely be addressed and reprimanded, but if it’s a one-off incident, it can’t be seen as bullying.

Arguments are a natural part of life. Everyone argues from time to time. It’s no different for school-aged children. In fact, young children can get into a LOT of arguments; especially if things don’t go their way. Most of the time these are simple disagreements.

Arguments can turn into bullying. If one child crosses a line and tries to use something they know against the other child to help them win the argument, that could be defined as bullying.

These are some of the most common behaviours which can get confused as bullying. The main thing to remember is that bullying occurs repeatedly and is done potentially to hurt or gain power over the other child.

So, one-off incidents shouldn’t be seen as bullying, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be addressed. Remember, Bullying Affects Everyone.

If you require any help with bullying, contact Bullying Canada for more information.


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