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LOCAL EXPERT Healthy Mind, Is the Term "Bullying" Being Overused


by Adam Russo, LCSW, Chairman & CEO of Edgewood Clinical Services

Q. Is the term ‘Bullying’ overused?

A. It’s an interesting question. The definition of Bullying is: the use of superior strength or influence to intimidate someone, typically to force him or her to do what one wants. Given that definition, how much bullying really occurs on a daily basis? Clearly, when bullying does happen, it can be extremely detrimental to the victim in the situation. This is especially true in schools, which is why there are many anti-bullying campaigns to raise awareness of how negative these situations can be.

But has the meaning and severity of the term ‘bully’ been devalued? For example, if one child says to another that they don’t like their clothes, is that bullying? If one child says to another that they don’t like them, is that bullying? Given the definition above, the answer is ‘no’, its not bullying. It may be rude or inconsiderate, but certainly is not bullying. Simply because a person may say something to another and those comments hurt their feelings, its not bullying. It is a situation where the person (child or adult) on the receiving end of these comments needs to learn how to manage the situation effectively. There are going to be many people in life who are not going to say nice things, and we must be able to manage in these situations.

Which is why parents must be cognizant of how they portray these situations to their children when situations described above occur in school; the child saying rude things is not bullying. They’re being rude. It is vitally important for parents to make this distinction and coach their children how to best manage the situation in order to feel empowered. If parents do not do this, and solicit assistance from schools to manage these situations whenever they occur, the child will not learn how to manage this type of conflict on their own. Then, as the child gets older, they may become anxious because they don’t feel competent managing the world around them.

ask an expert Adam Russo, LCSW is the Chairman & CEO of Edgewood Clinical Services. Adam is a Licensed Clinical Social Worker in the state of Illinois, and is also Certified as an Advanced Child, Youth, and Family Social Worker through the National Association of Social Worker. 2948 Artesian Rd., Suite 112, Naperville; (630) 428-7890;

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