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What is Bullying?

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:

  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.


With regard to student discipline, the California Legislature provided a definition of "bullying" when it revised the Education Code to include bullying as a disciplinable offense. (Ed. Code § 49800(r).)

Section 48900(r) defines bullying to mean:

  • Any severe or pervasive physical or verbal act or conduct, including communications made in writing or by means of an electronic act
  • That is directed toward one or more pupils; and
  • That has had, or can be reasonably predicted to have, one or more of the following effects:


Placing a reasonable pupil or pupils in fear of harm to that his/her/their person or property;


Causing a reasonable pupil to experience a substantially detrimental effect on his or her physical or mental health;


Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her academic performance; or


Causing a reasonable pupil to experience substantial interference with his or her ability to participate in or benefit from the services, activities, or privileges provided by a school.