Defining Bullying

Bullying is not new, the Internet did not invent it, but the anonymity it can provide can increase the opportunity for people to bully, intimidate, harass and upset others. First and foremost it is important to think of bullying in the broadest sense. Cyberbullying therefore is just an extension of bullying in the real world.

One of the aggravating factors of cyberbullying is that young people live simultaneously between the real and virtual worlds. There is no hiding place for them if they occupy the same online space as the bully and it is harder for a parent or carer who is not part of their online life to identify the early signs that their child is being bullied.

A definition of bullying

There are many descriptions of bullying. We have included a number here:

Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons. Cyberbullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies. This can be done through the use of mobile phones or social media websites such as Facebook and Twitter.

Bullying can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and all forms of harassment including that based on sex, race, disability, homosexuality or transgender. Bullying of any form or for any reason can have long term effects on those involved including bystanders.

Bullying can happen anywhere including: at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, between neighbours or in the workplace.

Bullying behaviour can be:

  • verbal e.g. name calling, teasing, abuse, putdowns, sarcasm, insults, threats
  • physical e.g. hitting, punching, kicking, scratching, tripping, spitting
  • social e.g. ignoring, excluding, ostracising, alienating, making inappropriate gestures
  • psychological e.g. spreading rumours, dirty looks, hiding or damaging possessions, malicious SMS and email messages, inappropriate use of camera phones.

Generally bullying is not:

  • children not getting along well
  • a situation of mutual conflict
  • single episodes of nastiness or random acts of aggression or intimidation.