October is Bullying Awareness Month

October is Bullying Awareness Month

The topic of bullying is becoming something that is talked about more and more and that is wonderful.

Bullying can have long-term negative effects on children. We have all heard about or read the stories. Fortunately, we do not have a bullying problem at Holy Cross. We teach our children to report problems when they happen and we address behavioral issues in an appropriate manner. Our children are not perfect and they do make mistakes because they are learning who they are and how to co-exist in the the classroom. Personality problems occur and sometimes kids can be downright mean or rude to each other. Kids said mean things to each other 50 years ago and they still say mean things to each other now. It’s sad but true.

Our staff is very good at addressing problems and teaching our children the right way to interact with each other. We hope that parents take the time to teach their children appropriate social skills and if a teacher or staff member brings it to your attention that your child is being unkind to other children, take it seriously and address it with your child.

I do think that it is important that teachers, parents and students understand that not all bad behavior that is expressed from one child to another is bullying. For behavior to be considered bullying, two factors must exist. First, there must be an imbalance of power (size, popularity, age, etc.) and second, it must be repetitive. That means, it must be occurring over and over again with the same student.

The Stop Bullying Now website has an article that well explains the difference between rude behavior, mean behavior and bullying. While rude and mean behavior are behavioral issues that must be addressed, they are not bullying. We do not want to overuse the word “bullying” to describe any poor behavior by a child. Please take the time to read and understand.

I have included some resources at the bottom for your review, including how to teach your child to stand up for himself and others, to be assertive, to be empowered, etc. These are important skills because a bully will look for someone who they can actually "bully". Kids who are confident and assertive and who have good self image are rarely the victims of bullying.

Please take the time to read this information and be informed and empowered.


Mrs. Mackey


Rude = Inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else.

From kids, rudeness might look more like burping in someone’s face, jumping ahead in line, bragging about achieving the highest grade or even throwing a crushed up pile of leaves in someone’s face. On their own, any of these behaviors could appear as elements of bullying, but when looked at in context, incidents of rudeness are usually spontaneous, unplanned inconsideration, based on thoughtlessness, poor manners or narcissism, but not meant to actually hurt someone.

Mean = Purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).

The main distinction between “rude” and “mean” behavior has to do with intention; while rudeness is often unintentional, mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone. Kids are mean to each other when they criticize clothing, appearance, intelligence, coolness or just about anything else they can find to denigrate. Meanness also sounds like words spoken in anger — impulsive cruelty that is often regretted in short order. Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down. Commonly, meanness in kids sounds an awful lot like:

  • “Are you seriously wearing that sweater again? Didn’t you just wear it, like, last week? Get a life.”

  • “You are so fat/ugly/stupid/gay.”

  • “I hate you!”

Make no mistake; mean behaviors can wound deeply and adults can make a huge difference in the lives of young people when they hold kids accountable for being mean. Yet, meanness is different from bullying in important ways that should be understood and differentiated when it comes to intervention.

Bullying = Intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power.

Experts agree that bullying entails three key elements: an intent to harm, a power imbalance and repeated acts or threats of aggressive behavior. Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse — even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop. Bullying may be physical, verbal, relational or carried out via technology:

Physical aggression was once the gold standard of bullying— the “sticks and stones” that made adults in charge stand up and take notice. This kind of bullying includes hitting, punching, kicking, spitting, tripping, hair pulling, slamming a child into a locker and a range of other behaviors that involve physical aggression.

Verbal aggression is what our parents used to advise us to “just ignore.” We now know that despite the old adage, words and threats can, indeed, hurt and can even cause profound, lasting harm.

Relational aggression is a form of bullying in which kids use their friendship—or the threat of taking their friendship away—to hurt someone. Social exclusion, shunning, hazing, and rumor spreading are all forms of this pervasive type of bullying that can be especially beguiling and crushing to kids.

Cyberbullying is a specific form of bullying that involves technology. According to Hinduja and Patchin of the Cyberbullying Research Center, it is the “willful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other electronic devices.” Notably, the likelihood of repeated harm is especially high with cyberbullying because electronic messages can be accessed by multiple parties, resulting in repeated exposure and repeated harm.

Why is it important to make the distinction between rude, mean and bullying behavior?

If kids and parents improperly classify rudeness and mean behavior as bullying — whether to simply make conversation or to bring attention to their short-term discomfort — we all run the risk of becoming so sick and tired of hearing the word that this actual life-and-death issue among young people loses its urgency as quickly as it rose to prominence.

It is important to distinguish between rude, mean and bullying so that teachers, school administrators, police, youth workers, parents and kids all know what to pay attention to and when to intervene.