There is no universal or agreed definition of school bullying, however it is generally agreed that it is a form of aggression that is intentional and unprovoked as well as being repeated over time.  Some form of imbalance of power, whether physical or psychological between the bully and the victim tends also to be involved.

Abuse of Power:  An imbalance of power is strongly associated with bullying.  This imbalance of power may be rooted in age or physical and mental strength, social skills (e.g. verbal acuity) or in social groups (e.g. gangs).

Isolated incidents:  While there is an emphasis on repeated negative behaviour, cleverly perpetrated one off acts (e.g. threats of future repercussions) that carry long term psychological and emotional effects on the victim, may also be considered bullying.

While there is no over arcing definition, having one is crucial to the understanding of bullying and the development of a whole school policy to prevent and counter bullying behavior.  Some notable definitions of traditional and cyber-bullying include:

“Bullying is the phenomenon in which a student is repeatedly victimized by other student(s) who acts with the intention of causing pain” (Olweus, 1991)

“Cyber-bullying is the form of bullying which is carried out using the internet, mobile phone or other technological devices.  Cyberbullying generally takes a psychological rather than physical form but is often part of a wider pattern of ‘traditional’ bullying.” (Irish Office of Internet safety, 2008)”

What is not a bullying: Distinctive  elements:
  • Random negative behaviour
  • Assertive behaviour
  • Teasing in game’s context
  • Disagreement
  • Personality Clashes
  • Imbalance of power
  • Intention
  • Threatening behavior
  • Repetition