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April 8, 2014 6:45 PM   Subscribe

What exactly is bullying, anyway? [PDF] Centers for Disease Control: The inconsistent definitions used to measure bullying coupled with evidence indicating the importance of distinguishing bullying from other types of aggression between youths highlight the need for a uniform definition.

The definition the CDC has come up with: Bullying is any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths who are not siblings or current dating partners that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated. Bullying may inflict harm or distress on the targeted youth including physical, psychological, social, or educational harm.

Furthermore: The current definition applies to bullying that occurs between peers and excludes abuse perpetrated by adults against children or youths. It also excludes family violence and violence that occurs within the context of an intimate or dating relationship. These different forms of violence (e.g., child maltreatment, sibling violence, teen dating violence, intimate partner violence, elder maltreatment) can include aggression that is physical, sexual, or psychological (e.g., verbal, belittling, isolating, coercive). However, the context and uniquely dynamic nature of the relationship between the victim and the perpetrator in which these acts occur is different from that of peer violence.
posted by Stewriffic (7 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
This is exactly the type of vitally needed definition I've been talking about for a long time. Thank you CDC!
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:47 PM on April 8, 2014 [1 favorite]

Bullying has left me bitter and cynical when required. It is simply exerting power over those who have less. We are all bullies, every single day of our waking lives.
posted by turbid dahlia at 6:50 PM on April 8, 2014

I would remind everyone that the intention of a definition such as this is to establish a standard, to allow characterization and measurement of patterns of youth bullying across time and place, the better to assess the problem and develop useful interventions. "We're all bullies" is like saying "We all get sick sometimes" - perhaps true, but markedly not pragmatic.

The definition isn't meant to police language or diminish other forms of interpersonal violence.

(IAA epidemiologist. IANY epidemiologist.)
posted by gingerest at 7:11 PM on April 8, 2014 [25 favorites]

Public health nerds unite, gingerest!

Yes, this is a way to actually be able to distinguish between bullying and other forms of youth violence. I work with schools, training teachers on (among other things) creating safe spaces for their students. I've seen a need for a shared understanding on what bullying actually is. Parents will use the word "bullying" if their kid gets in a scuffle with a peer, out of the perception that using that particular term will get their kid out of the consequences. I've seen teachers who write actual bullying off as normal kid behavior.

Now there just needs to be some widespread education around the topic, so that people can seriously be on the same page.
posted by Stewriffic at 7:20 PM on April 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I find it really fascinating how increased interest in social determinants of health means pretty much anything can be cast as a public health issue. I mean, don't get me wrong, my own professional work literally involves efforts to expand public health consciousness within my field, but I do wonder if actual public health professionals have concerns about mission creep when their domain increasingly consists of...everything.
posted by threeants at 7:42 PM on April 8, 2014 [2 favorites]

I know what you mean. I think the potential for mission creep is kept well in check by current funding models and the present market-driven focus on translatable health science. In other words, when they ask "So if you find an association between neighborhood racial segregation and Disorder X, how do you plan to translate that into testable interventions? By the way, is there anything patentable there?" there's a big unfillable hole in the grant application.

And local health departments are underfunded for the core missions they've been tasked with since forever.
posted by gingerest at 9:19 PM on April 8, 2014 [3 favorites]

Skip to PDF page 17 for the definition.
posted by Hello Dad, I'm in Jail at 1:56 PM on April 11, 2014

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