Bullying is a potentially devastating problem that affects a very high percentage of school aged children today. Bullying can be defined as any kind of unwanted aggressive behaviour targeting a generally weaker person. The aggression is repetitive and the power differential is often physical but it can also be based on other factors such as social popularity or a power imbalance because of access to potentially embarrassing information. The amount of hopelessness and despair that can be felt by the victim of bullying is something that no young person should be put through and it is for this reason that we are pleased to discuss Anti-bullying Week (Nov. 13th-17th) for this week’s blog.
Kinds of Bullying
Physical Bullying – the threat of physical violence or harm
Verbal Bullying – the incessant barrage of insults and name-calling
Social Bullying – using social relationships to exclude people, spreading rumours and/or embarrassing a person in public
Cyber Bullying – using social media and the internet to embarrass, isolate, or threaten an individual
and yes even among adults there is Corporate Bullying – using a power imbalance to force people to do things in the workplace
Bullying has numerous negative effects. Victims of bullying can suffer from severe anxiety, depression, poor academic achievement but it may also lead to substance abuse and even suicide. That’s why it is essential to encourage a dialogue about this subject so that parents can talk to their children and victims can have someone to turn to. Witnesses should also feel encouraged to offer a helping hand to those in need instead of passively doing nothing.
Who is at Risk?
Children who are particularly at risk of being bullied are those who can be perceived as somehow standing out from their peers for reasons such as weight, ethnicity, social class, physical attributes such as wearing glasses or somehow looking different. What’s more children who are quieter, prone to melancholic behaviour and exhibit signs of weakness often fall victim to bullying.
The bullies themselves are a bit harder to recognize because sometimes they can be Alpha-characters who are well-connected to their social community but often they can be standoffish, insecure and easily pressured by their peers. The latter seems to bully others as a kind of tactic for gaining acceptance. But the common threads that connect all bullies seem to be:
- apathy towards violence
- they view most others negatively
- they have less parental involvement
When I was at school from ages 8-12 my bully’s name was Albert. The physical violence only amounted to being tripped or shoved a few times but the name-calling was non-stop and carried on for a long time. I never feared for my well-being but I always dreaded having to endure the comments and the humiliating insults.
You see, when I was 7 I was put ahead a year. (I skipped Grade 1 altogether because I was a strong reader) This effectively meant that for my whole academic life I was a year smaller, weaker and younger than all my peers. I was perceived as bad at sports and what made everything worse…I wore glasses! I believe that nowadays the practice of fast-tracking students is avoided because of the onslaught of concerns it raises regarding the child’s well-being.
Anti-bullying awareness is something close to my heart and it is something that I look out for in my capacity as a teacher and I encourage all readers to open the doors of communication on this topic. Talk to your kids. I implore all kids to talk to your parents and I hope all educators have lessons with your students that bring this topic into clarity. We need to create environments where, at the very least we let people live in peace however in the best case scenarios, we all look after each other and whole-heartedly take care of one another. I prefer the latter.
What are your thoughts on this topic? Please share in the comments below.