conversations on the fringe


Workplace Discrimination

Four Markers of Bullying

With every person we talk to about bullying we get a different definition of what it is.  There seems to be some difficulty defining what bullying is and what it isn’t.  Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defines bullying as when the person is

“exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons.”

He defines negative actions as “when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways.”

The following are markers that may help determine if an act of aggression is actually bullying or simply the result of conflict between two parties.

1. Imbalance of Power

The bully can be older, bigger, stronger, more verbally adapt, higher up on the social ladder, of a difference race, or of the opposite sex. Sheer numbers of kids banded together to bully can create this imbalance. Bullying is not sibling rivalry, nor is it fighting that involves two equally matched kids who have conflict.

2. Intent to Harm
The bully means to inflict emotional and/or physical pain, expects the action to hurt, and takes pleasure in witnessing the hurt. This is no accident or mistake, no slip of the tongue, no playful teasing, no misplaced foot, no inadvertent exclusion.
3. Threat of Further Aggression
Both the bully and the bullied know that the bullying can and probably will occur again. This is not meant to be a one time event. When bullying escalates unabated, a fourth element is added:
4. Terror
Bullying is systematic violence used to intimidate and maintain dominance. Terror struck in the heart of the child targeted is not only a means to an end, it is an end in itself. This is not a one time act of aggression elicited by anger about a specific issue, nor is it an impulsive response to a rebuke.

Bullying (part 1): Profile Of A Bully

This is the first in a series of post exploring the complex issue of bullying in all of its various forms.

The Ways and Means of Bullying


1.            Verbal Bullying (boys & girls equally use this)


2.            Physical Bullying (mostly boys)


3.            Relational Bullying (mostly girls)


4.            Cyber-Bullying (boys & girls equally use this)



The Makeup of a Bully


1.            The Confident Bully (arrogant)

2.            The Social Bully (gossip)

3.            The Detached Bully (dissociative)

4.            The Hyperactive Bully (learning disability)

5.            The Bullied Bully (transference)

6.            The Bunch of Bullies (mob mentality)

7.            The Gang of Bullies (strategic alliance seeking power)


Common Bully Traits


1.            Like to dominate people

2.            Like to use other people to get what they want

3.            Lack of empathy

4.            Self-Seeking

5.            Violence in the absence of adults

6.            View other as weak and potential prey

7.            Uses blame, criticism, and false allegations

8.            Refuse to accept responsibility

9.            Lacks foresight and short term and long term consequences

10.         Crave attention

11.         Is NOT about anger




1.            A sense of entitlement – the privilege and right to control, dominate, subjugate, and otherwise abuse another human being

2.            An intolerance toward differences – different equals inferior and thus not worthy of respect

3.            A liberty to exclude – to bar, isolate, and segregate a person deemed not worthy of respect or care

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