Conflict is not bullying

Conflicts arise out of disagreement. They are equals – fighting. Bullying is a power dynamic. A person with power is using that power to hurt another person. Both bullying and conflict may manifest as “inappropriate behavior.”

Sometimes bullying situations look like conflicts, as the victim tries to fight back to defend themselves. These situations may look like conflicts, but they aren’t. They are victims trying to defend themselves.

How can you tell the difference? Sometimes it’s hard. Which is why – it’s better to focus – not on WHY the behavior is happening. But that it is happening.

For adults trying to help kids – this means helping kids learn how to defend themselves effectively without resorting to inappropriate or harmful behavior.

For targets of bullying and harassment, it means, choosing your response wisely so that you a) stop the unwanted behavior being directed at you and b) don’t contribute to the hurt and harm in the world.

If you are being targeted – hold yourself with dignity and respond with dignity. This website includes a lot of free videos that will help you learn these skills.

If you are an adult helping a kid – teach them how to do this and if you don’t know what exactly it looks like to stand up to a bully with dignity and compassion – watch the videos on this website and learn.

Finally – look for allies. If you are being bullied, others are well. Look for and reach out to those other kids – and create a new group of kids who don’t like being bullied. This group can stand up for each other if a bully targets an individual within the group.

Often – this back up – is enough to make would be bullies – leave you alone. But to create that sort of coalition of allies, you have to be one yourself!