The following list of questions may help you see if you are engaging in bullying behaviors. Bullying is defined as repeated and intentional behavior by one person or a group of people that causes physical or emotional harm to another.
Have you ever been told to stop your taunting behavior because it was hurtful, but you did not stop?
- Kids who bully others often have difficulty stopping their behavior because it gives them a sense of power over others.
Do you make jokes about someone's looks that make other kids laugh, but make the victim of your joking uncomfortable?
- Taunting other kids because of physical appearance, ability, habits or any other behaviors or situations that make them different is considered bullying.
Have you ever been told you were mean or were being a bully to someone?
- If an adult, friend or other student has cared enough about you to point out this pattern, you might want to take a closer look at why they are so concerned.
Have you ever felt like what you were doing was okay because the other person deserved it?
- Kids who bully often justify their actions by somehow blaming the victim as being annoying, stupid, gay or somehow deserving of cruelty.
Have you ever felt like what you were doing was okay because the other person did the same thing to you or to others?
- If you were bullied, then giving it right back is dangerous because it leads to an escalation of conflict.
Have you ever felt what you were doing was ok because everyone else around you was laughing?
- Kids who bully are often socially reinforced because the kids around them are laughing. If the behavior gets a good laugh and no one is hurt, that is okay. But if someone is hurt by the behavior or words, it is bullying.
Have you ever had friends tell you to stop giving someone a "hard time" but you do it again later?
- Bystanders in your friend group may feel uncomfortable with your bullying behavior but may have difficulty confronting you. If your joke or prank is so good that you need to repeat it, even after you have been told to stop, this is called bullying.
Have you ever purposely excluded someone or told other kids to exclude someone at recess, in the cafeteria or other place because you did not like something about them?
- Kids bully in subtle ways: not passing the ball to them, leaving the table when they sit down, cutting them out of conversations to isolate them, laughing at or criticizing their efforts to fit into the group. This is known as social bullying.
Have you ever continued your behavior even though the target of your actions is clearly upset?
- Kids who do not bully discontinue the bullying behavior when they see that their actions have caused harm to the other. Kids who bully continue the behavior either because they see it causes harm or they don't recognize the other person as capable of having the same emotions. This is called a lack or empathy or moral disengagement.
Do you sometimes get a rush of excitement when you are able to put someone else down?
- Bullying other kids can be a source of social power for some. Kids bully because: they think they can get away with it, they get laughs from their social group, it makes them feel popular. There are normal ways to make people laugh that don't hurt others. There are normal ways to feel popular without making others feel bad. Bullying behavior is mean spirited.
Would you feel uncomfortable saying or doing a behavior that is hurtful to someone in front of an adult like a coach, teacher, principal, parent or other authority figure?
- Bullies try to avoid consequences for their words or behavior. They do this by bullying when no adult of authority is watching.
When confronted about your behavior toward others, have you ever used the line: "I was only joking around" or "it was no big deal?"
- When kids who bully are caught, they often rely on words to talk their way out of the problem by minimizing the harm it causes. This also allows them to continue to bully.
If you answered "yes" to any of these questions, you may want to change your behavior. This is bullying. There is a lot of evidence that kids who bully are at increased risk when they grow up to have more legal, emotional and relationship problems. Stop now! If you need help with this, please start by talking with your parents, your teacher or your guidance counselor. You may get help by simply saying: "Sometimes I am mean to other kids, and I can't seem to stop. I need help."