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Differences between peer conflict and bullying

Normal Peer Conflict

Peers have equal power or are friends with each other.

Conflict happens occasionally or rarely.

May be accidental.

May not be serious; no threat of harm.

Equal emotional reaction from both peers.

Not seeking power or attention and not trying to gain something.

General remorse – will want to take responsibility.

Effort on both sides to solve the problem.


Imbalance of power between peers; not friends.

Repeated negative actions that happens often.

Purposefully done.

Serious with threat of physical or emotional harm.

Strong emotional reaction from victim and little or no emotional reaction from bully.

Seeking power, control or material things.

No remorse – bully blames victim; no guilt from bully.

No effort to solve the problem.

*Adapted from Bully-Proofing Your School, 2004