What is Bullying?
Bullying is a conscious, willful, deliberate, hostile and repeated behaviour by one or more people, which is intended to harm others. It is a learned behaviour. Bullying is defined as a form of aggression that is repetitively exerted against an individual who feels unable to defend him/herself. There are three aspects of this hurtful behaviour that almost all experts agree on; in bullying there is a difference in power between those being hurt and those doing the hurting, bullying involves hurtful behaviours that are repeated and intentional. Bullying is not about a conflict that needs resolving. In bullying, the power is all in one person or a group’s control. People who bully others show loathing and contempt for those they are trying to hurt.
Kinds of Bullying –
Bullying takes many forms, and can include may different behaviours, such as:
• physical violence and attacks (hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, or making someone do something they don’t want to do)
• verbal taunts, name-calling and put-downs (using mean words or threats, calling someone names, or saying bad things behind their back)
• threats and intimidation (making someone feel unsafe or scared)
• extortion or stealing of money and possessions
• exclusion from the peer group
• cyber bullying (using computers, the Internet, mobile phones, etc. to
Why do people bully? Who are these Bullies?
There are lots of reasons why people bully.
Bullying is a behaviour, it is something people learn.
Bullies may also be bullied themselves, or they were bullied at one time or another in their lifetime.
People bully because it makes them feel superior to others. They might get power and strength from bullying others.
People bully to get attention. They think that it makes them popular, or that bullying may be a way to fit in. Bullying doesn’t make someone popular or cool, it just makes them mean.
People who bully are often scared about something about themselves, so they try to scare others to hide their feelings or pick on others so they won’t get picked on first.
People who bully are unhappy and they take out their unhappiness on others.
People who bully feel little or no responsibility for their actions, and often feel the need to control others and may always feel the need to win.
People who bully may be jealous of the people they are bullying.
People who bully are unable to understand and appreciate the feelings of others.
People who bully always choose the one person they know they can win against (basically bullies are chickens).
People who bully are excellent observers of human behaviour.
Effects of Bullying –
The consequences of bullying victimization fall into four broad types:
(a) low psychological wellbeing, (b) poor social adjustment, (c) psychological distress, and (d) physical unwellness (Rigby, 2003, p. 584).
Research conducted across countries and with diverse samples has consistently found that both bullies and victims of bullying demonstrate poorer psychosocial functioning than their non-involved peers. Youth who bully others tend to demonstrate higher levels of conduct problems and externalizing behaviors, whereas youth who are bullied generally show higher levels of internalizing behaviors, including anxiety, depression, loneliness, unhappiness, and low self-esteem, as well as increased physical symptoms.
Researchers have found, that as a general group, boys spend more time with boys in physical activities such as sports and games; whereas girls tend to spend more of their time socializing with other girls in more friendship-based activities (for example, talking with other girls). So it is not surprising that boys and girls tend to bully and be bullied differently. One of the most consistent research findings is that boys are more likely to both bully and be bullied than are girls. Also, boys and girls experience different types of bullying behaviors.
How are Girls Involved in Bullying?
Through Peer Group
Girls tend to bully other girls indirectly through the peer group. Rather than bully a targeted child directly, girls more often share with other girls (and boys) hurtful information about the targeted child. For example, a girl may tell a group of girls an embarrassing story about another girl. They may create mean names, gossip, and come up with ways of letting the girl know that she is rejected from the peer group (for example, saying mean things about her on social networking sites such as Facebook or MySpace, using her email address to send harassing messages to everyone on her email list, texting her a death threat). These are called “relational” bullying because they attack relationships and friendships.
Another example of bullying experienced more often by girls than boys is sexual (for example, touched in private body parts or received sexual messages). Sexual types of bullying may occur at school, in the general community, and on-line. Fewer boys reported being targeted in this way. This form of bullying combined with messages about rejection from friendships can be devastating to a girl’s sense of enthusiasm for school and learning, self-esteem, and hopes for the future. These forms of bullying can be particularly time-consuming and difficult to resolve given that they involve many people over a period of time and are most often done covertly. It may even involve adults who react aggressively in defence of their children. When one girl feels powerless in how she is being treated, then bullying is occurring, and adults need to intervene.
How are Boys Involved in Bullying?
In contrast to girls, boys of any age and ethnic group tend to be physically aggressive (e.g., hit, kick, slap, push, or punch). Also, research shows that physical abuse tends to occur more often among boys than girls at all educational levels (e.g., elementary, high school, college). In addition, male college students tend to bully and be bullied through physical and verbal forms of bullying (e.g., name-calling) more often than college girls.
Few Quotes on Bullying –
‘Bullying is the assertion of power through aggression. Its forms change with age: school playground bullying, sexual harassment. gang attacks, date violence, assault, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment and elder abuse’. (Pepler and Craig, 1997)
“Bullying is not about anger . It is not a conflict to be resolved, it’s about contempt – a powerful feeling of dislike toward someone considered to be worthless, inferior or undeserving of respect. Contempt comes with three apparent psychological advantages that allow kids to harm others without feeling empathy, compassion or shame. These are: a sense of entitlement, that they have the right to hurt or control others, an intolerance towards difference, and a freedom to exclude, bar, isolate and segregate”. (Barbara Coloroso, The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander)
Fact: Peers are present 85% of the time when bullying occurs.
Fact: Bullying will stop within 10 seconds most of the time when someone else steps in to be a friend to the victim.
India is no stranger to this worldwide phenomenon. Couple of years back, we were voted 3rd in cyber bullying (The Global Youth Online Behavior Survey conducted by Microsoft ranked India third in cyber bullying, in 2012). Most of us would have seen enough news articles on cases of bullying in schools, colleges and workplaces. It is a very serious problem and we need to sit up and take notice. What the information on bullying shows us is that in most cases bullying happens in the presence of peers and if someone would just get involved and put their foot down, things might be different. So let’s all take a pledge to get involved. Be aware and look out for the signs. We need to send out a strong message saying that Bullying will not be tolerated. Not ever. Let’s start today. Before it is too late!
(Excerpts taken mainly from http://www.bullying.org and http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Bullying_Differences/)