Kern County Task Force Against Bullying logo

Definition of Bullying

Bullying has two key components: repeated harmful acts and an imbalance of power.  It involves repeated physical, verbal or psychological attacks or intimidation against a victim.

Bullying includes assault, tripping, intimidation, rumor-spreading and isolation, demands for money, destruction of property, theft of valued possessions, destruction of another’s work, and name-calling.

sexual harassment ● ostracism ● hazing

Not all taunting, teasing and fighting among schoolchildren constitutes bullying.  “Two persons of approximately the same strength (physical or psychological… fighting or quarreling” is not bullying.  Rather, bullying entails repeated acts by someone perceived as physically or psychologically more powerful.

A Threshold Problem: The Reluctance to Report

Most students do not report bullying to adults.  Some of the Reasons victims gave for not telling include:

fearing retaliation

feeling shame at not being able to stand up for themselves

fearing they would not be believed

not wanting to worry their parents

having no confidence that anything would change as a result

thinking that their parents’ or teacher’s advice would make the problem worse

fearing their teacher would tell the bully who told on him or her, and

thinking it was worse to be thought of as a snitch.

The same is true of student-witnesses.  Although most students agree that bullying is wrong, witnesses rarely tell teachers and only infrequently intervene on behalf of the victim.  Some students worry that intervening will raise a bully’s wrath and make him or her the next target.

Back to Top