Combating school bullying

Are you tired of hearing about and witnessing bullying in schools and thinking of ways to effectively deal with it? 

This article will highlight: what bullying is, the different forms of bullying and prevention strategies.

Bullying is a form of violence defined as repeated, aggressive behaviour intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally. It is characterised by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person.

The four common types of bullying are verbal bullying, physical bullying, social/relational bullying and cyber bullying.

Verbal bullying: The most common type of bullying that involves saying or writing mean or hurtful things including teasing, name-calling, making inappropriate sexual comments and threatening to cause harm to someone else.

Physical bullying: Involves hurting a person’s body or possessions including hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking things and making mean or rude hand gestures towards someone else.

Social/relational: Involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships including leaving someone out of a group on purpose, telling other children not to be friends with someone, spreading rumours about someone; and embarrassing someone in public.

Cyber bullying: Utilising electronic technology to bully someone by sending mean text messages or e-mails, sending rumours via e-mail or posting rumours on social networking sites such as Facebook and Twitter.

It also includes posting embarrassing pictures, videos, or making fake profiles. Bullying is a major public health problem facing many schools and is more common than we think especially among middle school and high school-aged children and youth.

It often leads to detrimental consequences for students who are both targets of bullying and perpetrators of bullying, which is why it is so important to address it.

Both targets and perpetrators of bullying are seen as victims and require immediate attention.

In addition, some students may feel like their physical and emotional safety is at stake when they experience bullying or even if they feel like bullying is occurring in their school because there would always be that fear of being the next victim.

That lack of safety ultimately negatively impacts students’ ability to learn. If left untreated, bullying can lead to depression, anxiety and even suicide in extreme cases as seen in numerous news reports from around the world, especially with regards to cyber bullying.

Some people may not be aware of the danger of their negative behaviours on others when they in fact may lead to disheartening short-term and long-term psychological and physical consequences.

The negative effects can be long-term for both bullies and targets of bullying, and it is costly to deal with these consequences which is why early prevention is extremely important.

There is no single factor that puts a child at risk of being bullied or bullying others and it can happen to anyone and anywhere especially where adult supervision is minimal.

A bullying culture can occur at home, school, the workplace or in the neighbourhood and can happen on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality and ability.

Unfortunately, people who are seen as “different” are often the targets of bullying. This is why it is crucial to celebrate individual differences. After all, differences are what makes people unique and makes them who they are.

Preventing bullying

Parents, school staff, and other caring adults can prevent bullying by helping children understand bullying, keep the lines of communication open, encourage kids to do what they love and model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

Anti-bullying campaigns in schools are very effective in dealing with school bullying.

For example, have students create anti-bullying posters to hang around their school and have them create a policy based on treating each other with respect and treating others how they want to be treated.

It is important to have students in charge of such projects so they can feel empowered. Additionally, community-wide strategies can help identify and support children who are bullied, redirect the behaviour of children who bully, and change the attitudes of adults and youth who tolerate a bullying culture in peer groups, schools, and communities.

In terms of preventing cyber-bullying in your home and your child’s school, be aware of what your children are doing online, talk to them about the dangers of cyber-bullying, establish technology use rules and understand school policies regarding technology use.

The take-away message from this article is to always treat others the way you want to be treated.

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