Bullying and How to Deal With it

26th October 2010
2 boys shaking hands

Beat the Bully!

Childhood bullying, in all it's different forms and types is becoming a more serious and widespread problem every day.

This article is designed to outline the key points about bullies, how they operate, how to deal with them and some important advice on how to help your child if they are being bullied. Bullying is no longer just limited to the school grounds. It is now prevalent in so many different places and in so many different forms. The most important thing to remember is this:

You can teach your child the best ways to act and react towards bullies.

Characteristics of a Bully

Research indicates that adults who bully, also have personalities that are authoritarian in nature and combined with a strong need to control or dominate. It has also been suggested that a prejudicial view of subordinates can be a particular risk factor.

Victims of Of Bullying

Victims of bullying can suffer long term emotional and behavioral problems because of the trauma involved in the situations. Bullying can cause loneliness, depression, anxiety, lead to low self-esteem and increased susceptibility to illness and in alot of cases now can lead to suicide. Factors such as depression and personality disorders, quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviors, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions are all typical traits of someone who has been heavily bullied. A combination of these factors may also be cause of this behavior.

These are certainly not good for any child because they can leave serious emotional and mental scarring and worse still, are often carried around throughout their adult life if something drastic is not done to remove them. Such issues can manifest so many other side effects without that child or adult even knowing it is causing them.

In many cases the person that has been bullied will become a bully themselves.

It is often suggested that bullying behavior has it's origin in childhood. If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, there is a danger that it may become habitual. Indeed, there is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood.

Further studies have shown that envy and resentment may be motives for bullying. While some bullies are arrogant and narcissistic, others can use bullying as a tool to conceal shame or anxiety or to boost self esteem: by demeaning others, the abuser him/herself feels empowered. Bullies may behave this way to be perceived as popular or tough or to get attention. They may bully out of jealousy or be acting out because they themselves are bullied.

Types of Bullying

Below are the main types of bullying and some examples of what the bullies may do to their victims.

1. Physical Bullying
This is when the bullying is performed on a physical level and involves hurting or attacking the victim.

  • causing physical injuries
  • stealing
  • shoving
  • slapping
  • de-bagging
  • wedgies
  • attacking
  • school pranks
  • teasing and abusing
  • fighting

2. Emotional Bullying
This type of bullying is often not as discussed but it is still a major concern. Emotional bullies like to negatively effect the emotions of the victims and make them generally feel sad or depressed about something in their lives or about who they are. This doesnot necessarily mean that the bully has to speak to the victim - rater they an crate the emotional effect from a number of different direct or indirect scenarios.

  • spreading malicious rumors about people
  • keeping certain people out of a "group"
  • getting certain people to "gang up" on others (It also could be considered physical bullying)
  • ignoring people on purpose - the silent treatment
  • harassment
  • provocation
  • whispering to another in front of someone - whispering campaign
  • keeping secrets away from a so-called friend

3. Verbal Bullying
This is when the bully directly communicates and invokes a negative response to the way the victim feels.

  • directing foul language (profanity) at the target
  • name calling
  • commenting negatively on someone's looks, clothes, body etc - personal abuse
  • tormenting
  • harassment

4. Cyber-bullying
Cyber-bullying occurs when someone bullies through the Internet, mobile phones or other electronic means.

  • sending mean-spirited text, e-mail, or instant messages
  • posting inappropriate pictures or messages about others in blogs or on web sites
  • using someones user name to spread rumors or lies about someone

5. Sexual Bullying
This is when sexuality or gender is used as a weapon by boys or girls towards other boys or girls - although it is more commonly directed at girls. It can be carried out to a persons face, behind their back or through the use of technology. This behavior can be physical and or non physical.

Bullying is a common occurrence in most schools. According to the American Psychological Association, approximately 40% to 80% of school-age children experience bullying at some point during their school career.

Through communication, classroom activities, and creating a positive atmosphere, bullying at the school level can be significantly reduced.

Tips For Parents, Teachers & Administrators

Building a positive environment both in the classroom and at home. If students feel that the classroom is a safe environment, there is less of a chance that bullying will occur. If a child feels that his/her home environment is encouraging and secure, he/she is less likely to take out his/her aggression through bullying at school.

By presenting a united front, teachers, parents, and administrators can help reduce the number of bullying incidents within the classroom. Showing a bully that he/she cannot manipulate any authority figure into allowing bullying to go on will ward off any negative behavior that may occur. This can be done by creating an "anti-bullying" team, posters, campaign, etc.

Providing a training class for those who interact with students on a daily basis (custodians, teachers, bus drivers, crossing guards, cafeteria workers, school nurses, etc.) will give them the tools needed for bully prevention.

Be consistent in enforcing any rules, regulations, and policies the school has.
Be aware of common places where bullying occurs and provide supervision.
Provide anti-bullying activities for students to partake in.

Combining all of the aforementioned techniques will help to limit the amount of bullying that occurs within the classroom.

A Final Word of Advice

Fear locks us up and awareness gives us power.

At a young age establishing an open line of communication with the child is extremely important. Taking time to give the child an understanding of human behavior when they ask questions about how people say or do things to them is also of great importance. Teaching them the skills of adapting in society, by this I mean teaching the child how to communicate with any type of person (rapport skills), will give them skills to adapt and also a greater awareness of people, their environment and behavior(driving forces).

Another important aspect is the child's self esteem and confidence. Try to build this as much as you can in their younger years so it becomes a permanent part of their self image later in life. Try to get them involved in team sports. This will help improve their adaptive skills and discipline. Playing sports also improves the coordination of the left and right sides of the brain which is also beneficial for overall positive development as a person. Remember our perception of ourselves creates our world.

Rick Collingwood has developed a special set of Children's Sleep stories which can help children who have been bullied or experience other negative emotional experiences.

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