Bullies are produced in the home, shaped by a combination of factors, including lack of parental warmth and attention, poor supervision, parental modelling of aggressive behaviour, and an active and impulsive temperament on the part of the child. The victims of bullies, however, are most often created at school. Teachers' attitudes, behaviours, and routines play a large role in the prevalence of bullying behaviour. Bullying is a problem that schools can - and must - control. The four essential elements of bullying are: 1. the behaviour is aggressive and negative 2. the behaviour is carried out repeatedly 3. the behaviour occurs in a relationship where there is an imbalance of power between the parties involved 4. the behaviour is purposeful
Bullying can occur in any situation in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, workplace, and the home. Whatever the situation, the power structure is typically evident between the bully and the victim. To those outside the conflict, it seems that the bully's power depends only upon the perception of the victim, with the victim being too intimidated to put up effective resistance. However, the victim usually has just cause to be afraid of the bully due to threats, and previous encounters with bullies.
CHARACTERISTICS OF BULLIES Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate. It has also been suggested that a deficit in social skills and a prejudicial view of subordinates can be particular risk factors. Further studies have shown that while envy and resentment may be motives for bullying, there is little evidence to suggest bullies suffer from any deficit in self esteem. However there are instances where bullying takes place only for humour. It is generally used in this instance by children who were bullied earlier in their lives. The fact that those who bullied them derived fun from their acts this would teach the victims to do the same.
Researchers have identified other risk factors such as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviours, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions. It should also be noted that in most schools there is reward for bullies such as appearing aggressive and more attractive while drawing lines that they are better than their victims.
Bullying may also be "tradition" in settings where an age group, rank or other feature is seen as superior. It is often suggested that bullying behaviour has its 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. Bullying does not necessarily involve criminality or physical violence. For example, bullying often operates through psychological abuse or verbal abuse. The three forms of bullying are:
PHYSICAL BULLYING Deliberately punching, hitting, bumping, pushing, slapping, tripping up, kicking, excessive tickling, shoving, poking, pinching, biting, choking, beating, stabbing Forcing others to do things against their will Taking or damaging others belongings Direct vandalism Demanding money Blackmailing Silly pranks Throwing things Sexual coercion or assault VERBAL BULLYING Teasing, mocking and taunting Abusive comments about appearance Repeatedly putting someone down Verbal threats Hurtful name calling Racist remarks Criticizing gender, race, religion or disability Insulting family members The silent treatment Arguing others into submission PSYCHOLOGICAL BULLYING Deliberately ignoring and avoiding Spreading nasty rumours, gossip Writing nasty letters about someone Deliberate exclusion from activities Influencing/telling others to dislike someone Bullying other people who wish to socialize with the victim Making a fool of someone Trying to dominate a person Threatening and embarrassing gestures
Bullying is not part of growing up and children will not grow out of it. It is not an overstated problem nor is it a rite of passage. Bullying is reality and it will not eventually stop if ignored. It needs immediate intervention regardless of whether it is rife in your school/area or not.
THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN TEASING AND BULLYING When teased: • Someone is making fun of you in a good-humoured way. • The person doing the teasing is someone who knows you well and cares about you. • The teasing is not something to be taken seriously - usually you will find it funny also. • If you do feel upset by the teasing, it is a mild feeling that soon goes away. • Teasing is a two-way thing - someone who teases will soon get teased and someone who is teased will soon become a teaser. When teasing becomes cruel and causes someone distress and/or it becomes one-sided and prolonged, then teasing has become bullying.
TYPES OF BULLYING 1. School Bullying In schools, bullying usually occurs in areas with minimal or no adult supervision. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it more often occurs in Physical Education, exploratory classes, hallways, bathrooms, classes that require group work and/or after school activities. An extreme case of schoolyard bullying is that of an eighth grader named Curtis in the US. He had been the victim of continuous bullying for three years, which included name-calling, being bashed into a locker, having chocolate milk poured down his sweatshirt, and the vandalism of his belongings. In reaction to the continuous harassment, Curtis committed suicide. In the 1990's, the US saw an epidemic of school shootings (e.g. the Columbine High School massacre). Many of the children behind these shootings claimed that they were victims of bullying and that they resorted to violence only after the school administration repeatedly failed to intervene. In many of these cases, the victims of the shooters sued both the shooters' families and the schools. As a result of these trends, schools in many countries strongly discourage bullying, with programs designed to teach students cooperation, as well as training peer moderators in intervention and dispute resolution techniques, as a form of peer support. Even with these measures, in general if a victim were to report a bully to the staff the bully will generally get a small punishment and then come back angrier than ever.
2. Derogatory Labels Normally a nickname is given by a family member or friend as a term of endearment. However, in bullying, rather than friendly nicknames, a derogatory label is associated with the victim. In early childhood, the label most often draws attention to a feature or characteristic that distinguishes the victim from the rest of the crowd. In some cases, the targeted characteristic is not one the victim wants to be noticed. A redhead might be called "carrot top", or someone with glasses might be called "four eyes." Bullies might also choose nicknames that target physical oddities such as birthmarks or muscular disorders. These nicknames can be so changed from the original that they appear entirely harmless and can be taken up by teachers and other adults further alienating the victim unintentionally. Sometimes others follow the bully by adopting the cruel nickname. Feelings of ostracism are frequent and can severely impact socialization and academic performance. Teachers may notice the harassment, but it is usually perceived as harmless, often because the jabs are too subtle to recognize. Often the teacher will respond to a target's pleas for intervention by the recitation of the refrain, "Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words can never hurt me." Unfortunately, it is often a false assessment. Derogatory nicknames are not limited to the schoolyard. Adult bullies may also participate in labelling others in the workplace or social circle. These labels are more likely to characterize perceived or suspected personality, character or incompetence. Adult labelling is often paired with other harassing and undermining behaviours.
3. Hazing or Ragging Hazing is an often ritualistic test, which may constitute harassment, abuse or humiliation with requirements to perform meaningless tasks; sometimes as a way of initiation into a social group. The term can refer to either physical or mentally degrading practices. It is difficult to draw the line between abusive hazing and a mere rite of passage (bonding), and there is a grey area where the behaviour becomes degrading or harmful abuse that should not be tolerated. Hazing/ragging has been reported in a variety of social contexts, including: • Sports Teams • Academic fraternities and sororities in Colleges and Universities. • Associated groups, like fan clubs, school bands • Secret societies • The armed forces (often with a paramilitary tradition) • Rescue services, such as lifeguards (also drilled for operations in military style) • In workplaces • Hazing is also common at prison facilities, including frequent reports of beatings and sexual assaults by fellow inmates.
CONSEQUENCES OF BULLYING Bullying can impact on many levels. Those affected are the victims of bullying, the bully, family and friends, and the learning environment. Children who are bullied have to endure a great deal of misery and they often suffer from one or more of the following physical, emotional, social and educational consequences.
PHYSICAL CONSEQUENCES Headaches Bedwetting Loss of appetite Poor posture Stomach ailments
SOCIAL CONSEQUENCES Isolated and lonely No friends Difficulty mixing with others Become very shy
EDUCATIONAL CONSEQUENCES Withdrawal from school activities Fear of asking questions Inability to concentrate on school work Hiding lack of understanding for fear of being teased Underachieving so they don’t appear to be too clever
CONSEQUENCES FOR THE BULLY: Bullies often turn into anti-social adults. Bullies are more likely to abuse their children and spouses or partners
IDENTIFYING EARLY WARNING SIGNS OF VIOLENCE Parents, educators and students can learn to recognize certain early warning signs of violence. Some of these early warning signs include: • social withdrawal • excessive feelings of isolation and being alone • excessive feelings of rejection • feelings of being picked on • low school interest and poor academic performance • expressions of violence in writings and drawings • uncontrolled anger • past history of violent and aggressive behaviour • drug use and alcohol use • high interest in movies, videos and internet web sites which glorify violence • threats of violence
TEN MYTHS ABOUT BULLYING Let’s understand the characteristics of bullies and their victims. Much of what we have always believed about bullying is wrong -- consequently many of our techniques for dealing with bullies and their victims have simply made the problem worse. Bullies are not always cowardly misfits with low self-esteem. Their victims are rarely chosen because of the colour of their hair or skin or the shape of their glasses. And, perhaps most importantly, bullying is not a problem that will go away without adult intervention. Following are ten myths about bullying, disproved by current US research:
MYTH: Bullies suffer from insecurity and low self-esteem. They pick on others to make themselves feel more important. RESEARCH: Most bullies have average or above-average self-esteem. They "suffer" from aggressive temperaments, a lack of empathy, and poor parenting.
MYTH: Bullies are looking for attention. Ignore them and the bullying will stop. RESEARCH: Bullies are looking for control, and they rarely stop if their behaviour is ignored. The level of bullying usually increases if the bullying is not addressed by adults.
MYTH: Boys will be boys. RESEARCH: Bullying is seldom outgrown; it's simply redirected. About 60 percent of boys identified as bullies in middle school commit at least one crime by the time they are 24.
MYTH: Kids can be cruel about differences. RESEARCH: Physical differences play only a very small role in bullying situations. Most victims are chosen because they are sensitive, anxious, and unable to retaliate.
MYTH: Victims of bullies need to learn to stand up for themselves and deal with the situation. RESEARCH: Victims of bullies are usually younger or physically weaker than their attackers. They also lack the social skills to develop supportive friendships. They cannot deal with the situation themselves.
MYTH: Large schools or classes are conducive to bullying. RESEARCH: No correlation has been established between class or school size and bullying. In fact, there is some evidence that bullying may be less prevalent in larger schools where potential victims have increased opportunities for finding supportive friends.
MYTH: Most bullying occurs off school grounds. RESEARCH: Although some bullying occurs outside of school or on the way to and from school, most occurs on school grounds: in classrooms, in hallways, and on playgrounds.
MYTH: Bullying affects only a small number of students. RESEARCH: At any given time, about 25 percent of pupils are the victims of bullies and about 20 percent are engaged in bullying behaviour. Many pupils stay home from school every day because they are afraid of being bullied.
MYTH: Teachers know if bullying is a problem in their classes. RESEARCH: Bullying behaviour usually takes place out of sight of teachers. Most victims are reluctant to report the bullying for fear of embarrassment or retaliation, and most bullies deny or justify their behaviour.
MYTH: Victims of bullying need to follow the adage "Sticks and stones will break your bones, but names can never hurt you." RESEARCH: Victims of bullying often suffer lifelong problems with low self-esteem. They are prone to depression, suicide, and other mental health problems throughout their lives.
STRATEGIES TO DEAL WITH BULLYING
TO PREVENT BULLYING Respect yourself and others Work to create a pleasant school environment for all. Learn to tolerate and accept individual differences. Support the school policy on bullying.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU ARE BULLIED Do not look like a victim - stay calm with head up, shoulders back, eyes straight ahead with an unconcerned facial expression Ignore the bully. Do not look at or talk to the bully. If you can’t/don’t want to ignore the bully, maintain good eye contact and use a calm voice and do the following:
- Tell the bully to stop. - State clearly that the behaviour is unwelcome and offensive. - Tell the bully what you don’t like. - Tell the bully how his/her behaviour makes you feel. - Tell the bully what behaviour you want. - Tell the bully what will happen if s/he doesn’t stop
If the bully is dangerous - leave and seek help Talk about it to someone you trust. There is nothing so awful that we can’t talk about it with someone. Report it to a member of staff, or a prefect. Your school does not tolerate bullying. Feel confident that any incident can be resolved satisfactorily.
WHAT TO DO IF YOU KNOW SOMEONE IS BEING BULLIED Care enough to do something about it, whether it affects you personally or not. Early intervention can defuse a situation before it gets out of hand. Report it to a member of staff, or a prefect.
SCHOOL SUPPORT PROGRAMMES Support programmes are based on the schools specific needs and the available resources. These programmes need to be age appropriate and content needs to be relevant to the situations and circumstances. The success of these support programmes is not dependent on money, but on initiative, drive and passion. Support programmes can take the following forms: Buddy system/Circle of Friends Assertiveness training Life skills development and curriculum activities Peer mediation Counselling Parent circles and workshops Anti-bullying campaign Bullying support team
HOW TO TEACH CHILDREN ASSERTIVENESS SKILLS Demonstrate assertive behaviour (e.g., saying "No" to another child's unacceptable demands) and contrast aggressive or submissive responses through Demonstrations. Let children role-play with puppets or dolls. Intervene when interactions seem headed for trouble and suggest ways for children to compromise, or to express their feelings in a productive way. Teach children to seek help when confronted by the abuse of power (physical abuse, sexual abuse, or other) by other children or adults. Remind children to ignore routine teasing by turning their heads or walking away. Not all provocative behaviour must be acknowledged. Teach children to ask for things directly and respond directly to each other. Friendly suggestions are taken more readily than bossy demands. Teach children to ask nicely, and to respond appropriately to polite requests. After a conflict between children, ask those involved to replay the scene. Show children how to resolve problems firmly and fairly. Show children how to tell bullies to stop hurtful acts and to stand up for themselves when they are being treated unfairly. Encourage children not to give up objects or territory to bullies (e.g., say, "I'm using this toy now"). Preventing bullies from getting what they want will discourage aggressive behaviour. Identify acts of aggression, bossiness, or discrimination for children and teach them not to accept them (e.g., say, "Girls are allowed to play that, too"). Show children the rewards of personal achievement through standing up for themselves, rather than depending on the approval of others solely.
HELPING VICTIMS AT SCHOOL One of the responsibilities of members of a school team is that they need to help the victims of bullying. The following strategies may be considered: If a person voluntarily comes to someone for help then they need to listen. Sometimes this is all that the victim wants and needs. After investigating the situation, it may be that intervention is necessary with the bully or bullies. The situation needs to be addressed and hopefully a resolution to the problem can be found. Inform the parents of the victim and of the bully. Discuss possible solutions with them. Arrange a meeting with them if possible. Follow up in communicating with the victim, the parents and the teachers about the situation. Monitor the behaviour of the bully and the safety of the victim on a school-wide basis.
STRATEGIES TO REDUCE BULLYING WITHIN SCHOOLS make adults aware of the situation and involve them make it clear that bullying is never acceptable hold a school conference day devoted to bully/victim problems increase adult supervision in the yard, halls and washrooms more vigilantly emphasize caring, respect and safety emphasize consequences of hurting others enforce consistent and immediate consequences for aggressive behaviours follow up on all instances of aggression improve communication among school administrators, teachers, parents and students have a school problem box where kids can report problems, concerns and offer suggestions teach cooperative learning activities help bullies with anger control and the development of empathy encourage positive peer relations offer a variety of extracurricular activities which appeal to a range of interests