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Bullying and Conflict, What's the Difference? - Episode 8

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3:57 minBullying and Conflict, What's the Difference? - Episode 8

Bullying and Conflict, What's the Difference? - Episode 8

This month on PACERTalks About Bullying, we are talking about the reality of bullying. To kick off the monthly theme, we are talking about the difference between conflict and bullying.

  • Author: NBPC
  • Duration: 3:57 minutes
  • Date Posted: 11/1/2017

Series: PACERTalks About Bullying - Season 1

We are so excited to be launching our brand new series, PACERTalks About Bullying, where each week we will be talking about all things bullying. In our first episode, we’ll share more about PACER Center and what we do.


Hey, welcome back to PACERtalks about bullying. I'm Bailey thanks for joining us.

This month our theme is all about the realities of bullying. One question we get asked a lot is "bullying and conflict, what's the difference?" So in this week's episode we're going to break it down a little bit to share what is the difference between bullying and conflict.

Well conflict is when there's a disagreement between two people. So for example, maybe your friend wants to go see the new movie all about dragons, whereas you want to see the newest romantic comedy. But bullying is when something is done to hurt or harm another person on purpose either emotionally or physically. We're going to break it down a little bit further in this week's episode, so make sure you stick around.

One of the first things to look at when differentiating bullying and conflict is all about power. So in conflict it's between individuals who have equal power. So a classmate or friend and they're arguing or disagreeing about something. Whereas with bullying, there's an imbalance of power. So the student who is doing the bullying behavior has more power than the student who's experiencing the bullying.

Now that could be power in a few different senses. It could be being physically larger or stronger, it can be being more popular or having a higher social status, or it could be being in a group and having that power in numbers.

But when looking at bullying versus conflict, it's important to go back to the power aspect to see if there's neutral or if there's that imbalance of power as there is in bullying. Another difference to look at is that in conflict students usually realize when a line's been crossed and when they're hurting another person and watch it change that behavior. Whereas in bullying, students often continue to bully even after they realize they're hurting or harming another person.

In bullying, students find a vulnerability in the person that they're bullying and often find satisfaction in that hurt or harm. And finally, in conflict, neither party feels unsafe or threatened. Yes, it's really hurtful to get into an argument with your best friend or classmate, but you never feel unsafe at school or threatened. Whereas with bullying, students not only feel hurt or harmed, but they feel unsafe at school or online or in the community and are unable to defend themselves. It goes back to that imbalance of power where the student who is experiencing bullying has lost power and has a hard time gaining control of the situation and stopping what's happening to them.

So now that we know the difference between bullying and conflict, why is it important? Well it's an important thing to note the difference between the two because the way that we handle conflict and bullying is so different. In conflict, like we talked about, students have equal power, so they're able to resolve the situation together and usually want things to go back to normal having a healthy relationship. Whereas with bullying, as there's this imbalance of power, the way we deal with it is a little bit differently because we want to make sure the student who's experiencing the bullying feels comfortable and has the opportunity to share their story and be empowered in the action plan.

If you want more information on bullying versus conflict, you can visit our website Make sure to join us back here next week as we continue to explore some of the realities about bullying. And remember, when we stand together, no one stands alone. See you!