Teasing vs. bullying: What’s the difference?


If you were to take a short tour through the halls of most average middle schools, you would see some playful shoving, some name calling and likely some rude comments being exchanged between students.

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Deep in the heart of this ruckus, there may be a student near tears feeling like they are alone and in danger in this world.

Is there a difference between the child near tears and the child who is exchanging names and impolite comments to another child?

Honestly? It really depends on how you look at it and, of course, some background information. Let’s say that the child near tears has been tormented for the past few months by one particular student and has yet to gain any help. The child being called names has only been annoyed with the child calling them names for only the past few minutes and is also firing back some of their own rude comments and is seemingly unaffected by the names. Now do you see a difference?

Something I have been pondering on for a while now is how to determine whether something is teasing or bullying and what the most important deciding factors are.

Teasing, in my opinion, is when someone does something to you that is just slightly irritating. It isn’t making you feel bad, but is mostly just someone bugging you. If you know what having a sibling is like, their actions are usually a fairly accurate definition of teasing.

In middle school and really everywhere in life, you have to get used to teasing. It is simply a part of growing up and it is never going to change! Parents and teachers may even tease you a little bit and sometimes a little teasing keeps life interesting and enjoyable and often times is actually a sign of endearment.

Bullying, on the other hand, is when the situation of annoyance gets out of control to the point of the individual not wanting to go to school, develops an inability to concentrate or study, shows a lack of involvement in school activities and a general feeling of sadness. From time to time, in the most extreme of cases, bullying can get so out of hand that students may have to transfer schools or in the worst case scenario, contemplate suicide.

Hopefully everyone will be able to distinguish the difference between teasing and bullying as we venture through middle school. You should realize that teasing is usually quite harmless and that bullying is harmful and if it becomes physical, can become dangerous. Most middle schools probably have a SAFE (Stop Abuse For Everyone) committee at their school and you can consult with one of its members if you need answers regarding your particular situation and to help you make a decision to determine your next step.

* Jana Giles is a Grade 8 student at Lewisville Middle School.


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