One of the biggest issues at the local school is when one student sees his or her actions as teasing while to another it looks as if the student if bullying. When does teasing become bullying?
I use the line of if the student being teased says stop it and the perpetrator does not, to me that is teasing but it turns out its more. If the teasing embarrasses, alienates, or criticizes, it has just crossed the line into bullying.
The thing about teasing is that it can be done in a gentle positive manner or it can turn nasty and cruel. Unfortunately, it is the classification many bullies hide behind by claiming they were only joking. It it hurts someone, it is not teasing.
Some people claim teasing is not bullying but if it is being done to be hurtful, it does become bullying. Its a form of verbal bullying designed to tear down the victim and make the instigator look better. It can involve name calling, sexual harassment, and taunting. This is the form of bullying that carries over into texting, emails, and websites. It can be a very powerful and hurtful form.
Even Psychology Today weighs in on the topic. Psychologically, teasing is not that bad and can be positive, neutral, or negative but it really depends on how the person being teased responds. If they laugh, everyone thinks its a joke but if they get angry, others might continue teasing to get the same type of response. It is classified as bullying when the bully refuses to accept his victim shrugs it off as a joke and continues the comments.
The article goes on to explain that boys often use teasing as a way of establishing pecking order and for girls the teasing occurs more within groups whose stability can change rapidly. Even with this psychological explanation, I am going to stick with the idea that if the teasing is hurtful and happens repeatedly, it is bullying. I will also consider it bullying if I see it as one person or group picking on anther repeatedly.
I know the program they give at the local school looks at the more prevalent forms of bullying and ignores the subtle distinctions of teasing and bullying. I'm not even sure that is a part of the standard education.
What do you think about this topic? I would love to hear back from readers on what you think.