When Does Teasing Become Bullying?

By: Estephany Escobar Email
By: Estephany Escobar Email

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HARRISONBURG, Va. (WHSV)-- Bullying has recently been in the headlines, with the suicide of a 12-year-old girl in Florida and its possible role in this week's school shooting in Nevada.

CNN reports that sometimes it may be hard to detect bullying among boys because of the mentality 'boys will be boys' still persists.

So how do you know whether your child is being teased or bullied?

Psychologists say bullying is repetitive and causes distress to the victim.

Julie Nitzche makes sure her kids are safe from bullying, "It concerns me not only for my children, but for all children. I think it's definitely prevalent from day one at school and outside of school."

Schools like Smithland Elementary uses signs to remind students that bullying is not tolerated in the classroom.

However, the definition of bullying can be blurry for some parents.

"I think sometimes you over-generalize and whatever is hurtful to somebody is considered bullying," said Nitzche.

Judy Mullet, a psychology professor at Eastern Mennonite University, said some people often confuse teasing with bullying, "I think one little incident, we all make mistakes, we all do something, but it is the repeated pattern as well. It's also the difference in affect. The person who is doing it is taking joy in it and the person who is harmed by it, is in distress."

But, she said we should take notice every time somebody is harmed.

This is something Nitzche takes into account, "Sometimes there is the possibility of overreacting, but I always air on the side of protecting my kids over not responding."

In Harrisonburg City Schools, when bullying is reported, teachers check if the action is repetitive and if there is power control before they intervene.

Schools take certain steps if it is believed that someone is being bullied.

Usually the aggressor receives disciplinary action and counseling.

The school offers support to the victim and the parents are notified.

The aggressor will be suspended from school if the bullying continues.


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