There is general agreement however that bullying is:
- unprovoked, hurtful, aggressive and repeated behaviour that aims to embarrass, threaten or intimidate
- carried out by perpetrators who are more powerful (either in reality or perception) than their targets, who are usually not able to effectively resist.
There are different types of bullying behaviour:
- Face to face bullying is fairly straightforward and may include kicking, hitting and shoving, or overt verbal acts such as threats, name-calling and insults.
- Covert bullying is more subtle, typically non-physical and often occurs out of sight of others. Covert bullying includes hand gestures, threatening looks, whispering, gossiping, excluding, blackmailing, spreading rumours, threatening, and stealing friends.
- Cyberbullying differs from offline bullying in that the perpetrators can more easily remain anonymous, content can reach a large audience, and material can be difficult to remove.
These different types of bullying can occur in combination and leave students to feel they have no safe space.
To effectively respond to bullying at a whole school level it is important that school staff have an agreed definition that is understood and applied consistently.
So, how does your school define bullying?