A Fine Line Between Teasing and Bullying

By Chhum Chanrachana,

©Mouldy Sponge /2016/Licensed under CC-BY.

“We tease you because we like you,” I’ve often heard people say this phrase when the person being teased feels offended. Making fun of someone is usually considered a friendly act among friends or family. However, when the person being teased becomes upset, that’s when the act turns into bullying.   

The Differences Between Teasing and Bullying

It might be difficult to differentiate between teasing and bullying. Some people unconsciously bully others, while some try to justify their actions by labeling them as teasing.

Teasing is part of how people communicate with each other which helps them bond. Teasing comes in two forms: endearment teasing (a way to connect with another person) and influence teasing (a way to change another person’s behavior). Teasing is done with positive intentions, meaning no harm to its receivers.

However, teasing could eventually turn into bullying when the person being teased is distressed. Bullying means harassing and making another person feel uncomfortable, or even destroying their self-esteem or confidence. Teasing could result in strengthening relationships, while bullying might result in the opposite.  


Photo by Jonhain on Pixabay

Online platforms and discussions have brought bullying to another level that is even harder to mitigate and identify. It comes in many forms; one of the most popular is called a ‘meme’, which is a picture with funny texts. Some memes criticize wrong acts or behaviors, while others are over the line because they harass other people or ruin their reputation. Online bullying is easier to get away with compared to bullying in person, since users are anonymous or fake their identity.

As a social media consumer, it is important to judge what is right and what is wrong. Even though there is no standard or clear guideline, ethical and moral standards should be followed then posting online. There is a lot of responsibility when it comes to consuming and sharing information online. You have to consider the consequences of the post you found on the online platform. Avoid being a part of the online bullying.  

It’s Not Your Fault for Being Sensitive

© Mike Rohde /2011 /LICENCE INFO

You have to speak up when someone crosses a line or when teasing hurts your feelings. You aren’t wrong when you try to stop others from making fun of you. The ones who bully are the ones at fault.

Stop blaming the victims for reacting to all of those destructive comments or mean acts. We all have our own rights to protect ourselves from threats, both physically and verbally. We have to know when it’s time to stop the teasing, when other people are upset or simply ask us to stop.

I am lucky enough to have a bunch of friends who understand me. We often tease one another, but we always make sure to let each other know if those words offend or upset either one of us. We simply stop the teasing before it goes any further.  

Being more open and speaking up are the first steps to stop bullying. It might take more than these to stop the wrong act. Don’t be shy to discuss the bullying issue with the ones who are close to you, like your friends or family. They might suggest some better solutions to help you. 😉

Now, it’s your turn!!!

How do you differentiate between teasing and bullying? Have you ever been bullied or seen anyone being bullied before? How did you deal with it?

I would be very happy to hear your story and opinion on this issues. 🙂



Views expressed here are those of the author’s and do not necessarily represent or reflect the views of UNICEF.

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