What is bullying?
Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior by, generally, school-aged children, that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. This type of behavior is repeated over time, and both the bully and the bullied may have serious, lasting problems. An imbalance of power is someone who uses their power, such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity to control or harm another person. These behaviors can change over time, involve different situations, and/or involve different people. Bullying behaviors can stay with a person and, if unchecked, can continue as an adult both socially and professionally. In honor of national bullying prevention month, we want to shed light on the different types of bullying and ways to help prevent it from reoccuring.
Types of bullying
There are three types of bullying: verbal, social and physical.
Verbal: saying or writing hurtful things in order to cause harm to another person. Examples can include teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, or threatening to cause harm.
Social: Doing something to purposefully harm another’s reputation or harm a relationship they have with another person. Examples can include leaving someone out of a social gathering or event on purpose, telling other children not to be friends with someone, spreading rumors about someone, or embarrassing someone in public.
Physical: harming a person’s physical body or possessions. Examples include hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, stealing and/or breaking someone’s possessions, or making mean or rude hand gestures.
Don’t be a bystander!
Contrary to popular belief, childhood bullying is not “just kids being kids.” It’s a very real and very serious problem. It has nothing to do with one being “strong” and “standing up to it.” It’s often a learned behavior. Many times, bullying extends to not only “playmates,” but to harming animals, those who are seen as “defenseless” or unable to fight back.
Bystanders are those—other children or adults—who observe violence or witness the conditions that perpetuate violence, but do nothing. These individuals are not directly involved, but have the choice to intervene, speak up, or do something about it. They are the individuals who are potentially in a position to discourage, prevent or interrupt a potential incident of bullying. Here are some simple steps that anyone can take to become an active bystander, and to teach children to recognize and do:
- Notice the situation – Be aware of your surroundings
- Interpret it as a problem – Recognize that someone needs help
- Feel responsible to act – See yourself as being part of the solution to help
- Know what to do – Educate yourself on what to do BEFORE a situation arises
- Intervene safely – Take action, but be sure to keep yourself safe
Some steps on how to intervene safely include:
- Tell another person – Being with others is a good idea when a situation looks dangerous
- Ask the person you are worried about if he/she is okay – Provide options and a listening ear
- Distract or redirect individuals in unsafe situations
- Ask the person is he/she wants to leave – Make sure that he/she gets home safely
- Call the police
If you see something, say something!
Effects of Bullying
Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully and those who witness bullying. It has been linked to numerous negative outcomes including mental health disorders, substance abuse and suicide. Children who are bullied can experience negative physical and mental health issues and can experience difficulties in school. They are also more likely to experience depression and anxiety, and may even retaliate through extremely violent measures.
Cyberbullying is the use of electronic communication to bully someone, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening nature. Cyberbullying can affect those of any age who feel very distressed and alone when being bullied online. Many children feel unable to confide in an adult because they feel ashamed and wonder whether they will be judged, told to ignore it or told to close their social media accounts, which they might not want to do.
With mobile technology being so freely available, it is an ongoing issue and one that is relentless. If you are worried that your child or loved one might be the victim of cyber bullying, here are the signs to be aware of:
- Low self esteem
- Acting withdrawn from the family
- Spending a lot of time alone
- Reluctance to let parents or other family members anywhere near their devices
- Finding excuses to stay away from school
- Friends disappearing or being excluded from social events
- Weight loss
- Change in personality
So how can you help someone who is being bullied online? Some tips include reinforcing the fact that no one deserves to be bullied, that they have done nothing wrong, and ensuring that they know there is help available to them. Encourage them to talk to a teacher whom they trust so they feel they have somewhere safe at school to go. Take screenshots of the cyber bullying so that you have proof of it occurring. Lastly, always report all abusive posts and messages to the relevant social media networks by clicking on the “report abuse” button so they may be removed.
At Paradiso Insurance, we proudly take a stance against bullying and choose to spread kindness through The Kindness Revolution. Anytime we visit our local schools, we always bring our kindness bracelets and remind students that it’s cool to be kind. If you would like to help us spread kindness, be sure to reach out to our office at 860-684-5270.