Bullying and Conflict
It is not appropriate to characterize all aggressive behavior as bullying.15-16
At times, students will engage in rough play. This type of play may appear aggressive. However, it serves to reinforce positive relationships and occurs among peers of equal standing. Conflict, in contrast, is motivated by negative intent and takes place between students of relatively equal power or social standing. When rough play or conflict scenarios involve groups of students targeting a single student, the situation can easily escalate into bullying.
Because a power imbalance exists in bullying situations, it is usually inappropriate to use conflict resolution strategies to resolve bullying situations. This is because these strategies often assume that both parties are at fault or compromise is warranted. In general, mediation is not recommended in cases of bullying.
Children who are bullied cannot stop the bullying on their own. Bullied students need the support of others to ensure that the bullying does not continue.4,16
Determining Rough Play, Real Fighting or Bullying
- What are the expressions?
- Are they known to be friends?
- What happened here?
- What happened before that?
|ROUGH PLAY||REAL FIGHTING||BULLYING|
|Usually friends||Usually not friends||Typically not friends|
|Often repeated (same players)||Typically not repeated||Generally repeated|
|Relatively equal balance of power||Relatively equal balance of power||Unequal balance of power|
|No intent to harm||Intentional harm-doing||Intentional harm-doing|
|Mood is friendly||Mood is negative, aggressive or tense||Mood is negative|
|Mutual positive feelings||Mutual hostile feelings||Different feelings (mood/responsive) for victim and aggressor|