The Difference Between Teasing and Bullying - Deepstash
At a Glance
  • Teasing and bullying are different.
  • Not all teasing is bad. Sometimes it’s playful and helps kids bond.
  • When teasing is meant to hurt and done over and over, it can become bullying.

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Good-natured teasing is a way for people to communicate with each other. It’s a social exchange.

  • Many kids tease each other to bond or form relationships. When the best kid on a basketball team misses a dunk, and a teammate says, “Hey, Magic, nice shot,” they can both laugh it off. The teasing shows each other they can joke around and still be friends.
  • Teasing can also be fun. Think, for example, of the back-and-forth banter that happens in any romantic comedy.

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Verbal bullying is different from teasing. It’s not done to make friends or to relate to someone. Just the opposite: The goal is to embarrass the victim and make the bully look better and stronger.

  • The tricky thing is that bullying may start out as teasing. But when it’s done over and over and is meant to be hurtful or threatening, it becomes bullying.
  • Verbal bullying includes calling victims names, taunting, and sexual harassment. It can happen in person, through texting, and online through social media and email.

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Maybe you’ve heard that kids are teasing your child or your student at school. You can ask a few questions to see whether it’s good-natured or harmful:

  • Are the kids who tease you your friends?
  • Do you like when they tease you?
  • Do you tease them back?
  • If you told them to stop teasing, would they?
  • If you told them that they hurt your feelings, what would they say sorry?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” or “I don’t know,” then it may be a case of negative teasing or even bullying. It’s important to find out more.

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  • Teasing can sometimes lead to bullying.
  • Kids who struggle with social skills need help understanding how to react to teasing.
  • If kids are being teased, asking specific questions can help you figure out whether it’s harmful.

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