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What is Bullying?

Many children have a good idea of what bullying is because they see it every day! Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose and the person being bullied has a hard time defending themselves. So, everyone needs to get involved to help stop it.

Bullying is wrong! It is behaviour that makes the person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable. There are many ways that young people bully each other, even if they don’t realize it at the time. Some of these include:

Punching, shoving and other acts that hurt people physically
Spreading bad rumours about people
Keeping certain people out of a group
Teasing people in a mean way
Getting certain people to “gang up” on others
The four most common types of bullying are:

Verbal bullying - name-calling, sarcasm, teasing, spreading rumours, threatening, making negative references to one’s culture, ethnicity, race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation, unwanted sexual comments.

Social Bullying - mobbing, scapegoating, excluding others from a group, humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti intended to put others down.

Physical Bullying – hitting, poking, pinching, chasing, shoving, coercing, destroying or stealing belongings, unwanted sexual touching.

Cyber Bullying – using the internet or text messaging to intimidate, put-down, spread rumours or make fun of someone.

What are the effects of bullying?
Bullying makes people upset. It can make children feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It can make them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. Children can lose confidence and may not want to go to school anymore. It may even make them sick.

Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Some of these include:

Withdrawal from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone.

  • Shyness
  • Stomachaches
  • Headaches
  • Panic Attacks
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Sleeping too much
  • Being exhausted
  • Nightmares

If bullying isn’t stopped, it also hurts the bystanders, as well as the person who bullies others. Bystanders are afraid they could be the next victim. Even if they feel badly for the person being bullied, they avoid getting involved in order to protect themselves or because they aren’t sure what to do.

Children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood. They have a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment and criminal behaviour later in life.

Bullying can have an effect on learning

Stress and anxiety caused by bullying and harassment can make it more difficult for kids to learn. It can cause difficulty in concentration and decrease their ability to focus, which affects their ability to remember things they have learned.
Bullying can lead to more serious concerns
Bullying is painful and humiliating, and kids who are bullied feel embarrassed, battered and shamed. If the pain is not relieved, bullying can even lead to consideration of suicide or violent behaviour.

How common is bullying?

Approximately one in 10 children have bullied others and as many as 25% of children in grades four to six have been bullied. A 2004 study published in the medical Journal of Pediatrics found that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. Studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom.
In the majority of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when peers intervene, or do not support the bullying behaviour.

Students are most vulnerable to bullying during transitions from elementary to junior high school, and from junior to senior high school.

There is a correlation between increased supervision and decreased bullying. Bullies stop when adults are around.

What are the myths about bullying?

Myth #1 – “Children have got to learn to stand up for themselves.”
Reality – Children who get up the courage to complain about being bullied are saying they’ve tried and can’t cope with the situation on their own. Treat their complaints as a call for help. In addition to offering support, it can be helpful to provide children with problem solving and assertiveness training to assist them in dealing with difficult situations.

Myth #2 – “Children should hit back – only harder.”
Reality – This could cause serious harm. People who bully are often bigger and more powerful than their victims. This also gives children the idea that violence is a legitimate way to solve problems. Children learn how to bully by watching adults use their power for aggression. Adults have the opportunity to set a good example by teaching children how to solve problems by using their power in appropriate ways.

Myth #3 – “It builds character.”
Reality - Children who are bullied repeatedly, have low self-esteem and do not trust others. Bullying damages a person’s self-concept.

Myth #4 – “Sticks and stones can break your bones but words can never hurt you.”
Reality – Scars left by name-calling can last a lifetime.

Myth #5 – “That’s not bullying. They’re just teasing.”
Reality – Vicious taunting hurts and should be stopped.

Myth #6 – “There have always been bullies and there always will be.”
Reality – By working together as parents, teachers and students we have the power to change things and create a better future for our children. As a leading expert, Shelley Hymel, says, “It takes a whole nation to change a culture”. Let’s work together to change attitudes about bullying. After all, bullying is not a discipline issue – it is a teaching moment.

Myth #7 – “Kids will be kids.”
Reality – Bullying is a learned behaviour. Children may be imitating aggressive behaviour they have seen on television, in movies or at home. Research shows that 93% of video games reward violent behaviour. Additional findings show that 25% of boys aged 12 to 17 regularly visit gore and hate internet sites, but that media literacy classes decreased the boys’ viewing of violence, as well as their acts of violence in the playground. It is important for adults to discuss violence in the media with youth, so they can learn how to keep it in context. There is a need to focus on changing attitudes toward violence.

Source: Government of Alberta


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