As schools and society grapple with the bullying prevention challenge, it is important to first ask and understand: Just what defines bullying?
Clear definition is even more critical now as schools face new responsibilities and liabilities related to the issue. It is important that we elevate the national dialogue on issues like caring, kindness, compassion and acceptance. But criticism and bullying are not the same thing and we do a disservice to children, educators and society as a whole when we make the two synonymous.
According to the 2008–2009 School Crime Supplement of the National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics, 28% of students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.
There are four key elements of bullying: Pain: Someone is physically, psychologically, or sexually hurting someone else; Power: The person who is doing the bullying is perceived as more powerful and is usually attempting to wield some power over the victim; Persistence: Generally the bullying is persistent, which means it happens more than once – it’s a repeated act; and Permission: Usually someone else knows about it and is allowing it to happen.
Watch this Connect with Kids video to help define bullying and download a complimentary Bullying Prevention Lesson Plan to continue the discussion.