What is and isn’t bullying?

A family member brought up a good question the other day regarding my blog post about bullying. So it got me thinking…what is bullying and what is not bullying?

I found an interesting article called What is not bullying? The article details instances that are not considered to be bullying but some of them can be taken to that extreme.

  1. Not liking someone

Not everyone is going to like you… just like you’re not going to like everyone. If someone lets it you know “hey don’t like you” it is not bullying. Unpleasant… but not bullying.

How can it become bullying? Perhaps if they were to tell you on a daily basis how much they don’t like you and torment you with the fact.  That can be pretty terrible feeling.

  1. Being excluded

Not everyone will want to be your friend, or sometimes you simply do not get invited to things or included in activities. Is this bullying? No.

I used to take stuff like this personally but then I realized I am not the center of everyone’s universe! I still hang out with my friends, but sometimes they hang out with other friends that I may not know and vis-a-versa. Sometimes I want to hang out by myself and exclude everyone! Doesn’t mean I don’t still love ya!

  1. Accidentally bumping into someone

If this was a form of bullying then I would be getting bullied every dang day on the subways and buses! Accidents happen and like the article’s author states, the reactions usually have to do with a person’s mood. I’ve seen a simple bump on a crowded bus turn into a loud argument.  One woman ranted long after the person got off to any poor soul within ear shot.

Bullying would entail being pushed and shoved often and on purpose even after asking the person to stop repeatedly. This I am very familiar with.


  1. Making other do things a certain way

Who doesn’t want things to always been done their way? Especially if you are just used to your way and don’t want to learn another way. According to the article this is a normal behavior and needs to be countered with assertive behavior from the other party. No one has the power to boss you around. Communication is key!

Bullying happens when someone never wants to consider your way/opinion and you feel forced to bend to their every whim. Not bending just causes more conflict and that leads to a deeper level of abuse.

  1. A single act of telling a joke about someone

This is a thin line to walk. According to the author

“It is important to teach kids (and grownups) that things they say as jokes should also be amusing for the others. If not, they should stop.”

Bullying occurs when it happens repeatedly and to hurt someone. For instance, all the jokes my ex used about my weight.

  1. Arguments

Arguments happen. Disagreements happen among friends, among family and even within yourself. There are days where I am fine and days where I fight with myself to get out of bed.

“The argument itself is NOT a form of bullying, although some people turn arguments into bullying, because they want to win the argument so much. They use every means to get what they want and find a weakness in the other person, abuse knowledge or trust they have gained and use it against the other person. It is very important to distinguish between natural disagreements and bullying during an argument.”

I can’t put it any better than that.

  1. Expression of unpleasant thoughts or feelings regarding others

“Again, communication requires at least two players. Although it may be unpleasant to hear what someone thinks about you, it is NOT a form of bullying but a very natural thing. In every communication, there are disagreements and some form of judgment about each other’s attitude and behavior. If someone says to you, “I think this was not a nice gesture” or “You insulted me when you said this,” this is NOT bullying but an expression of thoughts and feelings.”

This is where I get mixed feelings.  I honestly think no one as any right to make insulting commentary to anyone else. If it was an isolated event I say learn to let insults and other forms of negative expression bounce off of you.  Otherwise, we are making ourselves miserable by allowing the words of others to have an impact on our feelings. We need to learn to brush the negative talk off not only out of our heads but also off our backs. I have yet to perfect this so I don’t have much room to talk, but I do believe in it!


It is bullying if it is done to you on a repeated basis and needs to be addressed.

  1. Isolated acts of harassment, aggressive behavior, intimidation, or meanness

“The definition of bullying states that there is repetition in the behavior. Bullying is a conscious, repeated, hostile, aggressive behavior of an individual or a group abusing their position with the intention to harm others or gain real or perceived power. Therefore, anything that happens once is NOT an act of bullying. As a parent, it is important that you pay attention to what your kids are telling you and find out if things are happening more than once.”

Definitely important to make sure things aren’t being repeated on the daily.

All in all, bullying in my opinion is as akin to emotional abuse. Wearing a person down to the point they don’t want to go to school anymore, or go to work, or sometimes leave the house in general. Emotional scars run deep and stay with you for a long time. If you are being emotionally abused or bullied it has NOTHING to do with you and everything to do with the person abusing you. Why others want to keep someone else down is beyond my understanding.

What do you think my wonderful readers? Is there an abuse of the word bullying? Are people just becoming too sensitive? I’d really like to hear your thoughts on the matter.


3 thoughts on “What is and isn’t bullying?

  1. It definitely is a buzz word. Calling someone a bully is a great way to feel like you are winning any argument, because most people will back off at that point when accused of such a thing. I will take this over-awareness compared to when no one cared. I think it’s up to us to not let this awareness turn us into victims.


  2. It has become a very strong negative word to use because it is a very serious issue especially to kids that’s why when being called a bully some people get stung with the word, it’s not nice to be called a “bully” and personally I jokingly called someone a bully before and her reaction was kind of irritated with the word.


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