What is bullying?

Within the study of child development and peer interactions, there is a lot of talk     about bullying. However, bullying can cover a large range of interactions, and not all professionals agree on a universal definition of the term. What separates bullying       from general aggression is that bullying reflects an “imbalance of power” and can be defined as, “repeated aggressive behavior in which an individual or group of individuals harm another person who is perceived as physically or psychologically less powerful (Olweus, 1993).”

The first AIM interactive comic, So Funny I Forgot To Laugh,” is based on the ARTHUR episode of the same name. It depicts bullying in the form of repeated verbal aggression   (i.e., mean jokes) that starts off as mild teasing but quickly turns into bullying. Arthur asserts his power by continuing to hurt Sue Ellen who cannot easily defend herself, and their friends Buster, Muffy, and Francine become increasingly angry with Arthur. The storyline allows children to explore the following concepts:

  • Sometimes people might bully without even realizing it.
  • Everyone, even Arthur, can make mistakes.
  • There is great value in recognizing or “owning” up to one’s mistakes.

With AIM, we’ve set our sights on promoting social, emotional, and character development. By watching and interacting with Arthur and his friends as they address the complicated issue of bullying and what it means to have or to show empathy, children can begin to understand and discuss what bullying is and how it can impact a person. Research could show that incidents of teasing and bullying will eventually be reduced.

Let’s hear from you!


  1. Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford, UK: Blackwell.

© 2015 WGBH Educational Foundation. All rights reserved. “Arthur” & the other Marc Brown ARTHUR characters and underlying materials (including artwork) TM and © Marc Brown.

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