Does Bullying Actually Fit the Definition

Bullying is defined as "repeated, unwanted, and aggressive behavior" to gain power or control of another person, but does that definition really encompass what our kids face in school. You decide.

Seven year old, Kymber, was an outgoing first grader who loved her friends, her family, and most of all, her school. She was known by her teachers as a kind student who loved to learn, and who came to school everyday with a smile.

However, when Kymber's family moved to a new town, a new State, and a new school, things changed. The first few days went by without incident, but soon things started to change. She lost her enthusiasm for learning, and her teacher complained that Kymber lacked the ability to participate in class. At home, Kymber retreated more often to her room. She became withdrawn, quiet, and shy. Half-way through the year, she began complaining of stomach aches, and begged to stay home from school. Her parents talked to her, to her teachers, to the school counselor, and to the family doctor. No one had an answer for the drastic change in Kymber's attitude. 

It wasn't until her father's new position required him to move the family again that the reason became apparent. Three days into the new school, Kymber started participating in class. Three weeks in, her smile returned.

What happened? Kymber, herself, explained it during a round circle her teacher held on bullying. The teacher asked each student to if they had every experienced bullying. This is what Kymber said. "I didn't like my old school. No one would play with me. Here, everyone plays together. I don't stand in a corner and wait for the bell to ring. Is that bullying?"

What do you think? Is shunning a type of bullying? Does the definition of bullying need to change? I think it does. Bullying no longer just involves the big kid with a bad attitude pushing smaller kids into garbage cans or lockers. It involves isolating, aggression, name calling, emotional trauma, and all the other things that can occur when one kid or a group of kids decide to set another kid apart. 

While Kymber's name has been changed, this is truly an account of one child and how she felt when she was shunned by her fellow students. It is also true that maybe the kids at the other school did not understand how the simple act of not including Kymber at recess impacted her life. The point is, no child should ever feel isolated, shunned, or afraid at school. Next week, I will share what some kids are doing to make sue this does not happen at their school.

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