What is Bullying

It is important to understand what bullying is, and conversely what bullying is not. Bullying is not conflict and it is not hate. People may have conflicts with each other, and solve them without inflicting pain or distress. A person may
‘hate’ another person, but may not act on these feelings.

Bullying is very different from conflict or hate and always involves the following three ingredients:

  • An imbalance of power
  • Repetition
  • Intent to harm


“Bullying is… a pattern of repeated aggressive behavior
negative intent, directed from one person to another,
where there is a power imbalance”

                                                – Dr. Dan Olweus (1993)


Knowing the definition of bullying is one piece of the puzzle to understanding the seriousness of this epidemic. When incidents of bullying occur they should be dealt with in a different way than how conflict might be dealt with.

Simply put, understanding what bullying is, and recognizing when bullying is occurring, will help to determine what types of actions might be most appropriate.