KINSTON, NC (WNCT) Teasing versus bullying. The two might seem interchangeable, but some North Carolina educators are here to remind students, and their families, that there’s a big difference.
And they’re trying to emphasize that difference during National Bullying Prevention Month.
“Something may be happening on the bus early that morning, and they say ‘I’m getting bullied.’ I always explain to them, ‘Has it happened one time, or does it happen over and over?'” said Nicoltra Braswell, a K-5 counselor at Contentnea-Savannah School.
Bullying is a one-way street.
It’s a recurring imbalance of power where one person or group is causing physical or emotional distress to someone else, without the other person retaliating.
“There’s a lot of that where a kid says I’m being bullied, but actually they’re participating in it too. That’s an issue in itself, but we don’t want to call it bullying because that implies one thing when it’s not,” said Ryan Murphey, a 6th through 8th-grade counselor at Contentnea-Savannah School.
Educators say social media also makes it difficult for teachers to spot and stop bullying from happening.
“It really is a different world with everything that’s done on social media,” said Braswell. “When it’s on social media I tell them a lot of those things you put out there you can’t get back.”
Murphey also said kids need to be reminded that while bullying is never acceptable, acts of kindness always are.
“What we’re taking away we need to replace with something good. We’re telling kids not to bully, but we’re not replacing it with the positive behavior they should be displaying,” said Murphey.
In North Carolina, State Superintendent Mark Johnson is emphasizing kindness during the month of October as a part of school safety.
Murphey and Braswell also said one of the biggest ways to put a stop to bullying is by teaching kids conflict management and starting a conversation at home about how to properly cope with emotions.