The short answer is yes. Bullying is another word for harassment. Harassment is defined in civil and criminal law as: a pattern of behavior that serves no legitimate purpose but to harass the target.
There are 3 elements to the definition.
- It’s a patter of behavior. So – yes – that means repetition. If someone says something mean to you – it’s mean, but it’s not necessarily bullying. If – however, they repeatedly say mean things to you – just to make you upset – that is bullying.
- It serves no legitimate purpose. If your parent tells you to clean your room, that may upset you – but it serves a legitimate purpose. Bullying serves no legitimate purpose except to make the target upset.
- The purpose of the behavior is to upset or harass the target. That’s it.
The bad news is – bullying is repetitive and gets repeated. That’s the nature of bullying. The good news is that bullying is repetitive and that means – you can plan your response.
If you are being bullied – make a log of what exactly is happening. I have a handy one you can download and use here: http://thebullyvaccine.com/downloads/documentationlog.pdf
What you are looking for is patterns of behavior. Do they normally approach you at certain times or in certain locations? Is there a pattern to what they say or do when they harass you?
Take note and plan a response. Your response should be calm and polite and hopefully – allow you to make eye contact. If they continue – report them. Every time.
This is a pattern of behavior. For your teachers to understand – not only is this bullying, but what the extent of the bullying is – you can give them a copy of your documentation log. Don’t give them your original – give them a copy. Then – report every incident so that the teachers can tell – this is a pattern of behavior and it needs to stop.
You respond emotionally neutrally because – any emotion (anger, frustration or sadness), acts as a reward for the bullies. What you want them to learn is that – you aren’t bothered by what they are doing – and what they are doing isn’t working and that you are not afraid of them.
This is the only method that works to get unwanted behavior to stop. What happens next is that they will most likely continue bullying you – and maybe change the way they are bullying you. Expect that. it means – they didn’t like what you just did. So keep doing it.
Keep documenting. Keep reporting and keep standing up to them calmly and politely. Eventually – the teachers will take action and the bullies will decide – you aren’t worth it – and hopefully, your fellow students will also start to stand with you. Courage is contagious and this takes a lot of courage.
If they are physically hurting you or threatening to – plan your response in advance. If you need the help of an adult to plan – ask your parents or a trusted teacher for help.
You don’t have to live with being bullied. It can be stopped. But it take courage and planning.
All the materials on this website are free. If you can afford a donation – great – if not – access whatever you need. There are training videos and coaching videos to help you learn the science of how to get unwanted behaviors to stop and how to apply that science to the problem of bullying.
Also – please share with anyone you know who is struggling.