Q: What is the difference between Bullying and Harassment?
A: The distinction between bullying and harassment is that when the bullying behavior directed at the target is also based on a protected class, that behavior is then defined as harassment. Protected classes include race, color, religion, sex, age, disability, and national origin.
Q: How does peer pressure impact bullying?
A: Peer pressure can impact bullying behavior both in positive and negative ways. For example, the influence can have negative effects if a peer group’s bullying behavior encourages others to laugh at someone. It can also be negative when the group views other individuals as not worthy to be part of their group. The impact of negative peer pressure can create environments in which individuals are intimidated to speak out on behalf of someone being hurt or harmed.
Peer pressure can also be positive and healthy. For example, when the peer group encourages kind and inclusive behavior, such as inviting others to join them at the lunch table or letting someone know that they care what is happening to them. The action of peers encouraging each other to reach out to those who are struggling can have a positive impact on the group and other individuals who want to speak out against bullying.
Q: Can your friend be your bully?
A: Friends will sometimes have bad days. Friends will sometimes disagree. Friends will sometimes hurt each other’s feelings, have an argument, or simply need time away from one another. This is normal and can happen in any friendship, no matter how close. If you are experiencing treatment from a friend that hurts you and you have asked that friend to stop, but it still continues, then that is not friendship. That behavior could be bullying. Friendship behaviors do not include hurting someone on purpose or continually being mean even when asked to stop. A friend will change or be remorseful for her behavior if she finds out she’s hurting you. If you aren’t certain if what is happening is part of a normal friendship or if it is bullying, talk to an adult you trust and get help sorting out the relationship. And yes, it is okay (and the right thing to do) to ask for help.
Q: How does bullying impact health?
A: Often, the physical impact of bullying (the “sticks and stones”) is easy to recognize, such as a child getting up after being pushed, damaged personal items, or having torn clothing.
However, bullying often impacts our children in ways that aren›t so obvious. While words don’t physically injure, they do still hurt and can cause emotional harm. Verbal and emotional bullying, such as teasing and social exclusion, as well as physical bullying, have the potential to negatively impact a student’s overall health, along with their sense of well-being.
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