There are many misconceptions about bullying behaviour. Here are some of the most common.
This information distills the insights of experienced teachers, early childhood educators, parents and social researchers on early learning and aggression and outlines some general approaches that parents and other caregivers can use to teach appropriate behaviour, emotional recognition and control, and social interaction skills that support healthy relationships. If you are reading this information because you are concerned about your child’s aggression, please see a professional, such as a public health nurse, doctor, psychologist or social worker.
Until recently, the word “bully” often conjured up images of sullen, physically aggressive boys with social problems and low self-esteem. While this type of individual who engages in bullying behaviour does exist, reality is much more complicated. Many individuals who bully resort to hidden, indirect social aggression to harm others. They often have well-developed social skills, high self-esteem, and are masters at manipulating adults in order to appear innocent.
Sexual harassment is unwanted sexual advances, requests for sexual favours, or other behaviours of a sexual nature that intimidate, coerce, humiliate or in any way create a hostile school environment.
An important insight into bullying prevention focuses on understanding the role of so-called ‘bystanders’ – those who watch bullying happen or hear about it.
Research suggests that in a class of 25 students, two-to-four are engaging in bullying behaviour or are being bullied. At some point, the majority of students will engage in some form of bullying behaviour, or experience bullying themselves.
Cyberbullying includes the use of email, text messages social media and Internet sites to embarrass, socially exclude, or damage reputations or friendships in a deliberate, repeated and hostile way.
There is growing evidence that exposure to bullying behaviour leads to symptoms of depression, loneliness, anxiety and, in extreme cases, suicide. Being bullied also leads to difficulty sleeping, tiredness and apathy, along with a higher incidence of headaches and stomach aches. It can also lead to feelings of helplessness
Because adult intervention is the key to bullying prevention, parents and educators need to be aware of the behaviours and signs that young people are being bullied. Since bullying is a relationship problem, parents and educators must also look for signs of bullying within the young person’s relationships.
Bullying is a repeated pattern of unprovoked, deliberate and aggressive physical or verbal behaviour, marked by an imbalance of power and intent or threat to harm. Bullying is therefore a relationship problem. It is about power and the abuse of power. Bullying is always unwanted, unwelcome and uncomfortable to the person who is bullied.