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What is Bullying?

Australian expert Ken Rigby describes bullying as repeated oppression, physical or psychological, of a less powerful individual by a more powerful individual or group. He argues that it is not the same thing as conflict.

Norwegian researcher Dan Owelus defines bullying as when a person is "exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." He defines negative action as "when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways."

Canadian expert Dr. Debra J. Pepler defines bullying as a form of aggression in which there is an imbalance of power between the bully and victim, which lead to dominance and status. Lack of intervention implies that bullying is acceptable and can be performed without fear of consequences.

Health Canada defines violence as a social act, one involving a serious abuse of power (i.e. a relatively stronger person controlling or injuring another, typically the least powerful person accessible to the abuser).

The World Health Organization (WHO) ranked Canada as a “worrisome 26th and 27th out of 35 countries on measures of bullying and victimization, respectively. This survey also found that while other countries were improving their performance, Canada’s ranking had actually dropped”.

PREVNET states that a significant number of children are experiencing abuse at the hands of their peers. In Canada, we have a particularly high number of bully-victims. The high prevalence rates highlight the urgency with which we need to address this significant problem to ensure that every child is safe at school.

ONTARIO BOARDS OF EDUCATION: For the purposes of developing and implementing policies on bullying prevention and intervention, boards will use the following definition of bullying:
Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation. Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance.

Students may attain or maintain power over others in the school through real or perceived differences. Some areas of difference may be size, strength, age, intelligence, economic status, social status, solidarity of peer group, religion, ethnicity, disability, need for special education, sexual orientation, family circumstances, gender, and race.

Bullying is a dynamic of unhealthy interaction that can take many forms. It can be physical (e.g., hitting, pushing, tripping), verbal (e.g., name calling, mocking, or making sexist, racist, or homophobic comments), or social (e.g., excluding others from a group, spreading gossip or rumours). It may also occur through the use of technology (e.g., spreading rumours, images, or hurtful comments through the use of e-mail, cellphones, text messaging, Internet websites, or other technology).

Children who suffer prolonged victimization through bullying, as well as children who use power and aggression as bullies, may experience a range of psycho-social problems that may extend into adolescence and adulthood.



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