Bullying: Defining it is "Step Number One"

, Written by Christine Pitawanich, Posted: Wed, November 14 2012 at 8:45 PM, Updated: Thu, November 15 2012 at 2:52 PM

We've all heard of bullying. Some people look at it as kids...just, being kids.

But did you know, one in four bullies will have a criminal record by the time they reach 30?

Bullying...causing some kids to reach out for help. Certain kids, bullied so bad, they turned to suicide.

But what can be done? Experts agree, to beat something like bullying people must have a collective definition.

According to the dictionary, a bully is a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people.

For kids on the playground, a definition isn't so cut and dry.

"Bullies are people who punch," said six-year-old Sophia Bietz.

"Does mean stuff sometimes a lot and sometimes just once," concluded nine-year-old Noah Cornett.

"They have to be mean to you...over and over," said Cali Lees, who is five-years-old.

"I think they're people who have like mean siblings or something?" seven-year-old Grace Mahoney postulated.

When you ask parents what they consider bullying...

"Kids trying to push each other around and make them feel uncomfortable, I don't know," said mother, Kellie Lees.

"It could also be someone who does it to different people over and over," father Brett Lutz said.

But Justin Huelshoff, a father of two, said "I don't know, everybody's going to look at it differently."

Whichever way you look at it, today kids are speaking up. According to Kaiser Family Foundation, 68% of 12-15-year-olds said bullying is a big problem.

Principal Kristi Anderson at Lonepine Elementary, part of the Medford School District, said the school's definition is all-encompassing.

"Bullying can encompass all sorts of things," began Anderson.

"It can be intimidation, it can be someone that's calling out names, it can be pushing, shoving. Bullying could be something as simple as a child teasing a child repeatedly, over and over," she said.

At Southern Oregon University, Associate Psychology Professor Doug Smith agrees. He said repetition is one of three key points that are part of a working definition experts have used since the 1990s.

"It's an intentional effort to inflict harm or intimidate someone...Second, it happens repeatedly. It's not just a one time thing. The third aspect...there's an imbalance of power between the bully and victim," said Smith.

According to Smith, bullying has traditionally been physical in nature. However now, it has evolved; it has moved online and to mobile devices and forming a new phenomena known as cyber bullying.

"I think our definitions have had to evolve some," he said.

While, to some extent, definitions are fluid, there seemed to be a general consensus among people we spoke with.

"I would define it as someone who intimidates someone else and basically makes them feel inferior," said Lutz.

"I think bullying is usually a continuous thing," added Huelshoff.

"Being mean to people and calling them names they don't like," said little Sophia Bietz.

6-year-old Sophia and many others agreed, at least, that whether it be physical or verbal intimidation, bullying is intentional, repetitive, and above all, kids told us, just plain mean.

On Thursday, KOBI-TV NBC 5 will have a Night of Guidance where a panel of experts will take viewers' questions and concerns about bullying. Phone lines will be open from 6-7pm and calls will remain confidential. For more information call 541-779-5555 or watch NBC 5 News at 5 and 6.

About the Author

Christine Pitawanich

Christine Pitawanich was born and raised in the Pacific Northwest. In 2010, she received a master's degree in Broadcast Journalism from the S.I. Newhouse School of Public Communications at Syracuse University in New York.

Christine also has a Bachelor of Arts degree in Communications from the University of Washington.

Before joining the NBC5 News team, she had the opportunity to file reports from Washington D.C. for WFFT FOX Ft. Wayne News in Indiana. Christine has also interned at KOMO-TV in Seattle.

Christine loves to ski, try new food and have fun in the outdoors.

Catch Christine anchoring weekdays on NBC 5 News at 5pm.

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