Is there a bullying crisis? Or have children been getting labeled “bullies” too often? Perhaps the media has honed in on a few severe cases of bullying that have presumably led to children committing suicide, but whatever the reason, the past several years has seen an increase in the discussion about bullying labels as well.

Proponents of ditching the bullying labels think that children who are called “bullies” end up living up to that label, in a way becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy; while those who are called “victims” are viewed as weak or pitiful. Brandie Oliver, an assistant professor at Butler University, believes that instead of being called victims, it is more appropriate to call children who are bullied, “targets.” Likewise, “bully” is dehumanizing, she told RTV6 News, and should instead be switched with “student who exhibits bullying behavior.”

The conversation about labeling bullies was reignited in the wake of the suicide of a Florida 12-year-old, Rebecca Sedwick, whose tormenters — Katelyn Roman and Guadalupe Shaw, ageds 12 and 14, respectively — recently had charges of cyberbullying and aggravated stalking dropped. Roman and Shaw were arrested after Shaw posted an insensitive status on her Facebook, saying, “Yes IK [I know] I bullied REBECCA nd [sic] she killed her self but IDGAF [I don’t give a f***].” Shaw reportedly started bullying Rebecca because her boyfriend, 13-year-old John Borgen, had dated Rebecca in the past and still liked her, according to ABC News. “Guadalupe did not like the fact that I still liked Rebecca,” the boy said, according to the Daily Mail, “that I still liked Rebecca and that I’d talk about her.” Borgen believes that if he knew about the bullying, he could have stopped it.

Meanwhile, now that the charges against the girls have been dropped, they will merely undergo counseling to ensure they won’t continue bullying. “They had a fight at school and it was all over with but to then turn around and say [Katelyn] bullied Rebecca was uncalled for and it was uncalled for of [Sherriff] Grady Judd to put her picture up there,” Katelyn’s father said, according to the Daily Mail. “Then I had people coming to my house and phoning my house and threatening me and my family. It was crazy.” Roman’s attorney Jose Baez said that he was happy the charges were dropped and that he wanted to prevent the girls from being “bullied” themselves, by the justice system.

The website provides information from various government agencies — such as the Department of Education, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, as well as the Department of Justice — on bullying. In a blog post about bully labeling, Erin Reiney, MPH writes that it’s important to stop labeling children “bullies,” as it gives the message that the child’s behavior doesn’t change from one situation to the next, and that the behavior is fixed, unable to improve over time. “Actually, a child may play different roles in bullying, depending on the situation,” Reiney writes. “She may bully a younger child on the bus on Monday, watch anxiously as a friend is verbally bullied on Tuesday, and be bullied herself online over the weekend.” She also writes that labels can be harmful to the child’s development, as a negative name like “bully” automatically renders the child a “bad person.” She goes on to claim that “there are many factors that make bullying more or less likely, such as peer influences, family dynamics, and school climates,” which are all important to take into account when trying to eliminate bullying.

“If we call a student a bully, they kind of incorporate that into who they are and how they act, and they live up to that label,” Lauri Waldner, a guidance counselor at Noblesville West Middle School in Indiana, told RTV6 News.