Bullying is a common term used often in schools, media, and entertainment. Extreme forms of bullying can include physical harm, damaging someone's reputation, threats, spreading false rumors, or destruction of property. Other times, someone may say something that hurts your feelings, or you may be left out of a particular group of friends. So how do you know if you are being bullied, or if what you are experiencing is just normal teenager stuff?

First of all, it's important to understand that bullying has three key components:

  1. There is an unfair use of power. Whether that power is found in size, age, strength, social standing, number of friends, or intelligence, bullies will use their power to hurt and control others.
  2. It is intentional with the purpose of hurting someone. Bullying occurs when somebody does something with the primary goal of harming somebody else emotionally or physically.
  3. It is repeated over time. True bullying is something that occurs more than just once. Is it one kid saying mean things? Is it a group doing or saying or doing something? How long has it been going on?

Maybe what you are experiencing clearly falls into these three categories. But even if what is happening with you doesn't meet the true definition of bullying, it's still making you angry, hurt or sad. Due to how hurtful bullying can be, it can be hard to know how to cope. The hardest part is realizing that you cannot change or control someone else. You can't change the way they treat other people, but you can change the way you react to them.

When we are confronted with conflict, our first instincts may be fight (argue, lash out, etc.) or flight (walk away, avoid, etc.). However, doing any of those things probably isn't going to get you the results you want. The best thing you can do to is to reach down deep inside yourself and find all the courage and self-confidence you can. Then look for ways to respond or cope with these types of people.

For ideas on how to handle yourself in a situation where someone is being mean, rude, or being a bully see our tip for How to Deal With Bullying.

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