As we begin to take a look at this issue of bullying together, I believe we need to define what bullying is and what conflict is.
Children will have conflict. It is a fact of life. Even as adults, we have conflict with people in our family, workplace, stores, etc. One of the ways to determine the difference between conflict and bullying is to look at the reaction from both (or all) people involved. Are all the children involved feeling hurt? Is there a reason why there may be some hurtful things be said? For example, maybe there is an argument over rules to a game at recess, or something as simple as disagreeing about the name of a character in a cartoon or video game, etc. There is something that is causing discord and all involved are upset or feeling hurt. Children need to know that this is part of dealing with other people and need to be taught how to resolve conflict. These situations are not bullying.
Bullying has a tone all its own. When your child is reporting things where the person is saying things that are attacking character that is when they cross the line. There seems to be no reason why these comments are being made. It also cause hurt only on the part of the person being targeted. The bully is taking “cheap shots” at the expense of the other person. When a situation like this is encountered, that is when you as a parent need to step up in defense of your children.
Both bullying and conflict can be upsetting to a person of any age. The main difference is that conflict can be resolved, bullying requires intervention.