What is Bullying?
Bullying is a serious problem in schools. It is the use of force, coercion, hurtful teasing or threat to abuse, aggressively dominate or intimidate someone perceived as vulnerable.
A bully is the person who is habitually cruel, insulting or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller or in some way vulnerable. It is systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt and/or psychological distress on another. Bullying is a frightening experience many youth face everyday.
It can be as direct as hitting, threatening, destruction of property or forcing someone to do something against their will or as indirect as rumour, exclusion or manipulation. Bullying involves a real or perceived power imbalance between the person who bullies and the target youth who is bullied. The victims suffer depression, anxiety, increased feelings of sadness, loneliness and insecure.
Bullying is a significant problem and antisocial behaviour. The perpetrators have greater physical or social power than their victims and act aggressively towards them by verbal, physical or social means. Bullies tend to share common traits such as aggressive, dominant and slightly lower than average intelligence.
Bullying and its Effects
Bullying can impact the victim on physical, mental or emotional levels. Some of the effects include anxiety, fear, post traumatic stress disorder, lack of self-esteem, gastric issues, relationship issues and addiction to alcohol and drugs.
Bullying leads to problems academically and emotionally in addition to poor attendance and decreased academic performance. It causes feelings of helplessness, anger and frustration, mental, physical and emotional damage to all involved including bystanders. Research has shown the effects last well into adulthood. It occurs most often in areas where there is little or no adult supervision.
Bullying Prevention and Intervention
Conflict resolution education – Teaching conflict resolution skills to youth in schools decreases the incidence of violence, create a safer and more caring environment. Dealing with issues that face institutions, fighting, bullying, harassment and other forms of violence among young people.
Effective conflict management decreases incidents of bullying and violence, creates a constructive environment and helps students interact in peaceful and positive ways.
Bullying Prevention for Educators
Set up Rules
Once teachers and administrators have learned about how and where bullying occurs at their institution, they need to set up rules, enforce them and facilitate discussions that address the problem. Individual bullies and victims should receive independent counseling and create a safer less hostile environment for students.
Teach Kindness and Empathy
It is important to teach kindness, empathy and assertiveness to students. Teach children to be kind to others. Create opportunities for connection that foster a sense of community in the classroom. Identify gateway behaviour and prevent bullying behaviour such as name calling, stalking, ignoring or excluding, prolonged staring, laughing cruelly/encouraging others to laugh, causing physical harm to mitigate the likelihood of them growing into something more problematic.
Look out for Warning Signs
Looking out for warning signs for prevention, early intervention and reporting. Have a clear definition of bullying. Remove labels and address behaviour to ensure the person who is doing the bullying knows what behaviour is wrong, why it is wrong and what the consequences are for engaging in the behaviour. If the behaviour keeps occurring the parents will need to be involved.
Reinforce Good Behaviour
Set clear and enforceable rules and expectations. Age appropriate rules allow young people know what behaviour is expected. Be consistent in enforcing the rules. Reward positive behaviour. Reinforce good behaviour and it will give them clear expectations of what you want in a positive way. That way they will be more likely to engage in the positive behaviour again. Have open communication with the students, talk to them about their individual problems including bullying.
When parents are involved and work together with teachers, the biggest difference can be achieved. Cooperate with the school to implement corrective actions and deterrent measures.
Parents should instil healthy habits in their children. Instil anti bullying mindset in your child. This includes learning that being critical, judgmental, making hurtful jokes and spreading rumors are unhealthy and constitute bullying. Teach your child kindness. Teach your child early about responsible online behaviour. Be sure your child knows the best way to prevent bullying is to report it.
Helping Your Child Deal with Bullies
Provide your child tools for dealing with bullying such as walking away, telling the bully in a firm and confident voice to stop, ignore the bully, demonstrate that it does not bother them if other people point out their flaws demonstrating self confidence.
Teach your child to avoid places where bullies hang, stick with friends not socially isolated, know how to escape the situation, leave the place, if the bully is physical make a lot of noise to attract attention, know how to defuse the situation and get to safety.
Teach your child to speak up and report the bully to an adult. Wade in if your child is victim. Involve yourself firmly even without being asked until the safety and health of your child is assured.