Bullying: a Social Problem

That which we call “bullying” is a form of aggression, located on a continuum with a wide range of other forms of abuse and assault against children, such as physical, sexual, verbal and emotional abuse, perpetrated by peers, by known adults or by strangers. Essentially, all forms of aggression constitute the abuse of a power imbalance, a negative use of power in order to dominate, subjugate, control and humiliate another human being.

Seen in this light, we can understand bullying not only as learned behaviour, but as a social problem. It is not limited to schools and social relationships among children. Bullying in many forms can be found in a variety of relationships among adults as well.

We find bullying at all levels and in all spheres – both private and public – of our society. Bullying can occur in families and in intimate relationships, often (though not exclusively) through violence against women and children. We see bullying in workplaces and in institutions, in sports, in politics and in the media, though it may bear a different name when adults are involved.