• Conflicts vs. Bullying

    During a conflict, name-calling, threats and other conduct that might look like bullying can occur. However, a conflict and bullying are very different.

    Unlike bullying, during a conflict people are equally involved in some type of disagreement. Conflict is considered mutual, meaning everyone is more or less evenly involved.

    Bullying, on the other hand, involves one or several people (the bullies) intentionally committing a mean or violent act against another person(s) or group of people (the victims). When bullying occurs, there is no mutual participation in a disagreement; it is one-sided. Bullying victims have a hard time defending themselves. The victims want the bullying to stop, but the bully continues the behavior.

    Conflicts and bullying can interrupt the school day, damage property and cause injuries to the people involved. However, when the behavior involves a conflict, the school will take action based on its code of student conduct instead of the ABR.

    Bullying occurs when:

    • One or more students are victims of unwanted or uninvited aggression, as the behavior applies to the definition of harassment, intimidation and bullying in the ABR;
    • The aggressor’s behavior would lead a person to reasonably believe that the aggressor is motivated by a desire to physically or emotionally hurt someone;
    • The aggression is one-sided; and
    • The behavior is not an attempt to positively or negatively address or resolve a problem.

    Bullying that Leads to a Conflict An incident that is found to be bullying could lead to a conflict in the future. If a conflict is the result of bullying, a school is required to follow the ABR when dealing with the bullying aspect of the incident. To decide whether a behavior is bullying, the school officials must think about 12 all of the facts during an investigation. Examples of bullying and conflict by grade level are provided below:

    Elementary School Conflict:  “You copied my picture…you stole my idea!” “No, I didn’t…you copied from my picture!”

    Elementary School Bullying:  A fellow student grabs the picture you colored and tears it up, calling you names related to your religion and cultural heritage.

    Middle School Conflict:  “After you borrowed my basketball, I asked that you return it and you didn’t!” “I did return it…I left it on your porch.”

    Middle School Bullying:  While practicing basketball skills in the gym, several students sit nearby and call out insulting comments about the color of your skin and your basketball skills.