Passive Aggressive Diaries

Understanding passive aggressive behavior in families, schools, and workplaces

Is it Rude, Is it Mean, or is it Bullying?

It is important to distinguish between rude, mean, and bullying so that teachers, school administrators, police, youth workers, parents, and kids all know what to pay attention to and when to intervene. Read More

Overprotective parents aren't helping

I agree that the term "bullying" is overused. And I would argue that "teasing" or chronic meanness is not "bullying" if the elements of aggression, threatening, and attempts to induce fear are absent.

Along the same lines, I would argue that the term "racism" is overused. All children are subject to teasing. It is immature and rude and undesirable, but it is part of life. Students engaging in interracial teasing or disagreements should not be held to a totally different and much stricter standard than students engaging in intraracial teasing or disagreements. And students involved in interracial disagreements should not automatically be labelled "racists".

Overprotective parents may unintentionally be shaping intolerant, unproductive, and overly sensitive attitudes that interfere with the future ability of their children to function smoothly in social situations.

It's about the parents

If a parent terms behavior "bullying" as an act of over-compensation, the question to ask isn't about their kid, but about the parent herself. "So, Mrs. Fishbein, you feel Sally is being bullied--why do you feel this way?"

How does a high school senior

How does a high school senior at an all girls school handle bullying without making the bullying toward her increase? The girls in her lunch group make weekend plans together in her presence that exclude her; make comments behind her back "she seems nice when you first meet her, but wait until you get to know her." They spread rumors that she is getting expelled from school for her behavior on a school trip. She says if she tells them this is hurtful, they will increase their bullying behavior. Any helpful ideas appreciated.

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Signe Whitson is a licensed social worker and co-author of The Angry Smile: The Psychology of Passive Aggressive Behavior in Families, Schools, and Workplaces, 2nd ed.


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