Conflict vs. Bullying
Conflict vs Bullying
Is conflict the same as bullying? People may sometimes confuse conflict with bullying, but they
are different. Conflict occurs when two or more people have a disagreement, a difference of
opinion or different views. Conflict between students does not always mean it is bullying.
Children learn at a young age to understand that others can have a different perspective than
their own, but developing the ability to gain perspective takes time and the process continues
into early adulthood. In conflict, each person feels comfortable expressing his or her views, and
there is no power imbalance. Each person feels able to state his or her view point. How people deal
with conflict can make it positive or negative. Conflict becomes negative when an individual behaves
aggressively by saying or doing hurtful things. Then the conflict is an aggressive interaction.
Conflict only becomes bullying when it is repeated over and over again and there is a power imbalance.
Over time, a pattern of behaviour may emerge where the person who behaves aggressively in the
conflict may continue or even make it worse. The person who is the recipient of the aggressive conflict
may feel less and less able to express his or her point of view and feel more and more powerless.
That is when negative conflict may turn into bullying. A school will respond to bullying and conflict
differently. For example, in the case of a conflict, a school staff member may try to have the students
come together to tell their side of the story and help them resolve the situation together. In the case
of bullying, a principal will consider progressive discipline, which may include suspension or expulsion.
If you have any questions or concerns about bullying, please let the office know.