What is Bullying?
Bullying is a form of aggression that unfolds within a relationship. The teen who bullies uses aggression and control to maintain a position of power over the victim. As bullying evolves over time, the power dynamics and inequality in the relationship become stronger. The victimized teen gets caught in an abusive relationship. This problem can also happen between groups of young people.
In schools, bullying occurs in all areas of school. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it more often occurs in PE, recess, hallways, bathrooms, on school buses and waiting for buses, classes that require group work and/or after school activities. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of or isolating one student in particular and gaining the loyalty of bystanders who want to avoid becoming the next victim. These bullies taunt and tease their target before physically bullying the target. Targets of bullying in school are often pupils who are considered strange or different by their peers to begin with, making the situation harder for them to deal with.
Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse - emotional, verbal and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.The "imbalance of power" may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a "target."Bullying is abusive treatment, the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when habitual and involving an imbalance of power. It may involve verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed persistently towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality or ability.
There is a strong link between bullying and suicide or "bullycide". Bullying leads to many suicides among young people every year although it is hard to determine exact numbers. Among the media bullying suicides includes Ryan Halligan.
The basic elements of bullying are:
- Unequal Power: One person has more power than the other person (or at least it seems that way to the people involved)
- Hurtful Actions: Physically or psychologically harmful behaviour takes place
- Direct and Indirect Actions: The behaviour may be face-to-face or behind one's back
- Repetitive Behaviour: The hurtful actions keep happening so the person being hurt finds it more and more difficult to escape
Teasing, rough housing or even play fighting are not considered bullying when both students are willing participants.
If a teen is being bullied, you can suggest:
- "Stay calm and try not to show you are upset. Try to respond to the person bullying you without anger. Anger can make things worse."
- "Look the person in the eye and say you don't like what they are doing."
- "As soon as you can, find an adult you trust and tell the adult what happened. It is your right to be safe."
- "Stay close to peers you can count on to stick up for you."
- "Stay away from places where you know bullying happens."
- "If the bullying continues, walk away, join other teens or ask someone else for help."
If a teen sees someone being bullied, you can suggest:
- "Speak out and help the person being hurt. Nobody deserves to be bullied. You can help by telling the person who is bullying to stop."
- "Comfort the person who was hurt and make it known that what happened was not fair or deserved."
- "If this does not work right away or if you are afraid to say or do something on your own, find an adult you trust to help you."
- "Help a teen who is being bullied by being a friend. Invite that person to participate in your school activities. This will reduce the feeling of being alone."
Source: Public Safety Canada
What are some of the types of bullying?
|Social||Hitting / Punching||Kicking|
|Excluding from group activities||Pushing/shoving||Stealing|
|Dating aggression [*]||Insults||Name-calling|
|Hurtful Comments||Threats||Sexual harassment [**]|
|Ethnoculturally-based comments [***]||Gossiping||Ignoring|
[*] Dating aggression - physical or verbal actions including grabbing, pushing, punching, spreading rumours and name-callingCan hurt the young person's body, damage belongings or make the person feel badly about himself or herself. Can make the young person feel badly about himself or herself. Can make the young person feel alone and not part of the group.
[**] Sexual harassment - occurs when a person or group hurts another person by taunting or discussing sensitive sexual issues, creating sexual rumours or messages, making homophobic comments, rating sexual body parts or name-calling, telling sexual jokes, and initiating unwanted sexual touching
[***] Ethnoculturally-based bullying - any physical or verbal behaviour used to hurt another person because of his or her ethnicity (culture, colour or religion)
Source: Public Safety Canada
Often bullying takes place in the presence of a large group of relatively uninvolved bystanders. In many cases, it is the bully's ability to create the illusion that he or she has the support of the majority present, that instills the fear of 'speaking out' in protestation of the bullying activities being observed by the group. Bystanders to bullying activities are often unable to recognize the true cost that silence regarding the bullying activities has to both the individual and to the group. A certain inability to fully empathize is also usually present in the typical bystander, but to a lesser degree than in the bully.
Despite the large number of individuals that do not agree with bullying practices, there a very few that will intervene on behalf of the victim. These individuals are labeled bystanders and unfortunately usually tend to lean toward the bully's side. In 85% of bullying incidents, bystanders are involved in teasing the victim or egging on the bully. However, in most bullying incidents, bystanders usually do nothing. If the bully faces no obstruction from the people around, it gives permission to continue behaving badly. There are a wide variety of reasons why children choose not to intervene. Typically they worry that they will make the situation worse or risk becoming the next victim, due to the fear that children experience as the bystanders, which is a direct cause of the decline of anti-bullying attitudes.
Cyber-bullying refers to the use of communication technologies (e-mail, cell phones, pager text messages, Internet sites and instant messaging) to physically threaten, verbally harass or socially exclude an individual or group. Using these technologies to distribute damaging messages and pictures allows bullies to remain anonymous and bullying to become widespread.
Cyber bullying and bullying statistics is a growing epidemic throughout Canadian schools and is a great challenge to be dealt with by schools & parents.