Key Concepts to Understanding Bullying - Dignity for All Students Act

Teach Empathy

DASA Educational Resources

How to Differentiate Bullying from Conflict or Teasing

From the National School Climate Center

Teasing vs. Bullying



It isn’t intended to hurt the other person.

It is intended to hurt the other person emotionally or physically.

Pokes fun in a lighthearted way.  Maintains the dignity of everyone involved.

Involves humiliating, cruel, demeaning, or bigoted comments thinly disguised as jokes

Allows the teaser and person teased to trade roles.

Based on an imbalance of power and is one-sided.  The bully does all the taunting.

It is meant for both parties to laugh.

Laughter is directed at the target, not with the target.

Only a small part of the activities shared by friends

Main interaction between bully and victim.

Teasing stops when the person being teased becomes upset or says ‘Stop’

Bullying continues, especially when the target becomes distressed or says ‘Stop’

Conflict: A struggle, dispute, and/or misunderstanding between 2 opposing forces

A positive and respectful school climate is one that is physically, emotionally and intellectually safe for all school community members… which is the antithesis of a school that is “violent”


"Three questions need to be asked: Who gets bullied? Who does the bullying? And what gives rise to this group aggression? The answers are to be found in the relationships — or non-relationships — of children with the adult world."

How to Respond to Bullying

  • Support those around me who are being bullied or victimized.
  • Tell a friend, teacher or parent when I see someone being bullied
  • Ask myself, “How would I want to be treated?”
  • Note where and when bullying occurs.
  • Do something when I see someone being bullied—be an Upstander.
  • Understand why bullies bully.
  • Practice being a positive role model for my fellow students and share “Stand Up to Bullying” strategies with others.

As a system

  • Intervene with Discipline
  • Communicate clear discipline policies.
  • Every student should know that unkind acts will result in immediate discipline.
  • Create policies that give children who bully ownership of the problem and ways to solve it via:
  • When dealing with children who bully, it is important to leave their dignity intact.
  • Create and Maintain a Positive School Climate

Key Terms (by The National School Climate Center)

A bully is a person or group who uses physical, social, intellectual, or psychological power to hurt, threaten or intimidate others. Here, we use the terms “bullying” and “bullying behavior” to refer to any mean and cruel behavior.

A victim is a person or group who is a target of the bullying behavior —often based on their race, social class, gender, or other attributes (e.g., prior relationship with the bully, immigrant status, language, religion, obesity, or special needs).

A witness is a person who observes or hears about cruel, mean, and/or bullying behavior (as well as everything else “good and bad” that goes on in school). Students and adults who witness cruel, mean and/or bullying behavior make a conscious or unrecognized choice to be a bystander or an Upstander.

A bystander is a person or group who observes or hears about bullying behavior. An active bystander supports/encourages the bully with words, gestures or actions. A passive bystander supports the bully by ignoring or doing nothing in response to the bullying.

An upstander is an individual or group who acts to interrupt or prevent bullying behavior and/or supports the target of bullying. Upstanders are heroes and are socially responsible examples to others.

Bully behavior can take many forms. It can be physical (poke, push, hit, kick), verbal (yell, tease, insult, threaten), or indirect (ignore, exclude, tease, spread rumors).

Cyberbullying involves sending or posting hurtful, embarrassing, or threatening texts or images electronically. Unlike other forms, cyberbullying is more difficult to see and address, so it can be especially dangerous and= difficult to stop.

An ally is a person or group who supports others, working to prevent harm and promote social change. Allies often work across barriers of race, age, gender, role or levels of power. Allies are Upstanders.

Empathy involves more than simply understanding another person’s point of view; empathy involves entering into the feelings and experiences of the other(s), especially when your perspective is different. Empathy has to do with “the moral imagination” (John Paul Lederach).

Courage often involves standing up for a value, person or group in the face of threat, fear, or actual harm. One root of“courage” is from the French word “coeur” – to speak and act from the heart. Courage has many roots, but it is often supported by the culture around us.

“A school’s culture has far more influence on life and learning in the schoolhouse than the state department of education, the superintendent, the school board, or even the principal can ever have.”

    Roland Barth

Video MultimediaListen to Stanford University education professor Linda Darling-Hammond talk about 'the instructional and systemic aspects of social, emotional, ethical and civic as well as intellectual education.' Click here to view the video.

Video MultimediaListen to Neuroscientist Richard Davidson present his research on "How social and emotional learning can affect the brain." Click here to view the video.

Videos produced by are used with permission and we are indebted to them for their kindness.


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