Is aggression different from bullying?

New York, Jul 6 (IANS): General aggressive behaviour and bullying are not the same thing. There is a vast difference between the two and spotting this is necessary for developing right interventions, researchers say.

The findings showed that aggressive behaviour is meant to hurt or harm.

Conversely, bullying is a repetitive behaviour further characterised by a power imbalance between two parties, such as one child against a group or a bigger child against a smaller child, said Jamie Ostrov, lead author and professor psychologist at the University at Buffalo.

"It's important for us to realise this distinction, in part because every aggressive behaviour we see is not bullying.

"Certainly aggressive behaviours are problematic in their own right and also deserve our attention, but recognising the differences in the two behaviours means we can begin a discussion about whether we have to do something different with interventions related to general aggression," Ostrov said.

Bullying can be physical, involving hitting, kicking, pinching or taking things away from someone. There is also relational bullying or social exclusion, where children might say, "You can't be my friend anymore" or "You can't come to my birthday party".

"Victimisation is receiving; aggression is displaying; bullying adds the power imbalance and repetition," Ostrov explained.

For the study, forthcoming in the Journal of Child and Family Studies, the team used teacher reports for one study with 85 students and a second study that combined teacher reports and behavioural observations by a research staff on 105 students.

The results suggest that relational aggression, not relational bullying, was associated with increases in victimization.

"We have to keep this distinction in mind - it matters. It's also validating our overall definition of bullying. There is something distinctive about bullying," Ostrov added.