In the field of education, certain “buzz words” develop. Parents often use these terms as they think they have a grasp of the definition of these words. While one may have good intentions, using these words inappropriately may cause undue fear or angst which exacerbates the situation. One such word is the term bullying. Many times, a parent will contact me to say their child is being bullied when, in reality, it’s a situation of children being children. Throughout their elementary and middle school experience, children are learning how to be social. Yes, they will be inappropriate at times, but that’s how they learn. We all must be allowed to make mistakes as that is part of the learning process! Understanding that individuals will always make mistakes, the question remains: What is bullying?
Bullying, as defined by the National Center Against Bullying, is “when an individual or a group of people with more power, repeatedly and intentionally cause hurt or harm to another person or group of people who feel helpless to respond. Bullying can continue over time, is often hidden from adults, and will probably continue if no action is taken.” Now that we have a definition, let’s look at what bullying is not:
- A single episode of social rejection or dislike
- A single act of nastiness or spite
- Random acts of aggression or intimidation
- Mutual arguments, disagreements or fights.
While these actions do cause stress and anxiousness, they do not fit the definition of bullying unless the pattern is deliberate and repeated.
At Coweta Charter Academy, we respond to any claim of bullying seriously and will investigate appropriately. However, I have noticed that many claims of bullying fall into the single episode category where students are developing social skills. Remember, many times children may not get along one day and then be best friends the next day. As adults, we need to allow them to work through the learning process for social skills. It is through this process that they will become stronger and more mature as they grow. After all, we want our children to grow up to be able to address and handle the many situations life throws at them!