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Word Badger: Some back-to-school words to the wise

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Frank Schultz
August 27, 2014

TAGOS Leadership Academy, an alternative middle/high school that is part of the Janesville School District, tweeted the following timely definitions Wednesday.

TAGOS cited as it source Signe Whitson, a child and adolescent therapist.

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Rude vs. Mean vs. Bullying

Rude is “inadvertently saying or doing something that hurts someone else.” In children,  this takes the form of social errors such as “burping in someone's face, jumping ahead in line, bragging about achieving the highest grade or even throwing a crushed up pile of leaves in someone's face.”

The critical factor? “Incidents of rudeness are usually spontaneous, unplanned inconsideration, based on thoughtlessness, poor manners or narcissism, but not meant to actually hurt someone.”

Being mean involves “purposefully saying or doing something to hurt someone once (or maybe twice).” Unlike unthinking rudeness, “mean behavior very much aims to hurt or depreciate someone … Very often, mean behavior in kids is motivated by angry feelings and/or the misguided goal of propping themselves up in comparison to the person they are putting down.”

And while Whitson agrees that both rudeness and mean behavior require correction, they are “different from bullying in important ways that should be understood and differentiated when it comes to intervention.”

Bullying is “intentionally aggressive behavior, repeated over time, that involves an imbalance of power … Kids who bully say or do something intentionally hurtful to others and they keep doing it, with no sense of regret or remorse -- even when targets of bullying show or express their hurt or tell the aggressors to stop.”

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Let's all have a good school year.



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