Back to School: Facing the Bully

BY GENA HUFF, Editor

As the new school year rolls into existence, so too will bullying. Seemingly, these go hand in hand. Although bullying can continue into adulthood — no longer called bullying but harassment, assault, or defamation — school years, and especially the younger to middle years of school, can be a gauntlet of peer pressure, confusion, angst, and awkwardness. This is only exasperated with bullying.

In 2014, the Centers for Disease Control and the Department of Education released the first federal definition of bullying for research. The main components of the definition include unwanted aggressive behavior, a power imbalance whether observed or perceived, and repetition of behavior or the high likelihood the behavior will be repeated.

There are two modes and four categories within the federal definition of what constitutes bullying. The two modes are direct, which would be in the presence of the student, and/or indirect, which includes spreading rumors. Four broad categories of bullying are physical, verbal, relational (efforts to harm reputation or relationships), and damage to property.

Bullying can occur most anywhere. Cyberbullying or electronic bullying is usually contained to verbally threatening or harassing a person and the spreading of rumors, also called relational aggression. Cyberbullying can also involve property damage from electronic attacks and/or hacking.

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