Other Definitions of Bullying

Askew (1989). Bullying is a continuum of behavior that involves the attempt to gain power and dominance over another.

Besag (1989). Bullying is the repeated attack - physical, psychological, social, or verbal - by those in a position of power on those who are powerless to resist, with the intention of causing distress for their own gain or gratification.

Farrington (1993). Bullying is repeated oppression, psychological or physical, of a less powerful person by a more powerful person or group of persons.

Johnstone, Munn, and Edwards (1991). Bullying is the willful, conscious desire to hurt or threaten or frighten someone else.

Lane (1989). Bullying includes any action or implied action, such as threats, intended to cause fear and distress. This behavior has to be repeated on more than one occasion. The definition must include evidence that those involved intended or felt fear.

Olweus (1993a). A student is being bullied or victimized when he or she is exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions* on the part of one or more other students. A single instance of more serious harassment can be regarded as bullying under certain (unspecified) circumstances.

Smith and Thompson (1991). Bullying intentionally causes hurt to the recipient. This hurt can be either physical or psychological. In addition, three further criteria particularly distinguish bullying: It is unprovoked, it occurs repeatedly, and the bully is stronger than the victim or is perceived to be stronger.

Tattum (1989). Bullying is a willful, conscious desire to hurt another person. It can be occasional and short-lived, or it can be regular and long-standing.

* Negative actions may include such low-level nonverbal harassment as stares and glares as well as cruel teasing, social ostracism, malicious gossip, sexual harassment, ethnic slurs, unreasonable territorial bans, destruction of property, extortion, and serious physical assault. (Besag, 1989; Olweus, 1993a).


Ross, D. (2003). Childhood Bullying, Teasing, and Violence: What School Personnel, Other Professionals, and Parents Can Do (2nd ed.), p. 23. Alexandria, VA: American Counseling Association.