In order to understand what we need to do about bullying, we have to first understand the definition of bullying and what is bullying in school. Indeed, the line can get complicated at times, since many bullying incidents involve criminal behaviors as well. This is when the law gets involved but this doesn’t remove the fact that it is still considered bullying at school.
But this list should serve to remind people involved in anti bullying campaigns and concerned parents what constitutes bullying in school and what we can do about it.
One of the most hurtful types of bullying which typically involves younger children is name calling. The old saying about “sticks and stones” is not really true. Words DO hurt. Some kids think up the worse possible names to call someone, sometimes based on their weight, such as “FATTY,” or “PIG,” which can be extremely hurtful to someone who is already conscientious about their weight. Name calling should never be allowed and should be reported to someone on the first incidence, since it tends to get worse if no action is taken and kids need to understand that it’s not funny. It’s bullying.
This is perhaps the most “grey area” of bullying, since some forms of teasing are more positive. For example, someone may pull someone’s hair to give them attention or because they like them. But if they do it to hurt or to embarrass, then it becomes bullying, In general, teasing is considered bullying when it makes the person feel bad or different in some way that carries negative connotations.
Physical Threats & Aggression
One of the more obvious types of bullying is anything involving threats or aggressive behaviors. These can include anything from pushing, hitting, punching, kicking, or any other act which involves bodily contact that is meant to overpower the individual or make him or her feel helpless or ridiculed. All physical threats are serious, and schools should take them that way, especially in the light of all of the school violence incidents. Keep in mind that some physical threats carry a more serious penalty than others, considering the statement made and how seriously it may be carried out. Any threat is a crime, as well as bullying and usually should involve local law enforcement as well.
Rumors & Gossip
While rumors and gossip are not against the law, they can carry legal consequences and are considered one of the worst types of bullying in schools. Girls resort to this type of behavior more than boys do, as boys tend to choose more physical aggression as they mode of aggressive behavior toward others. While rumors and gossip are not against the law, the result of gossip can result in a loss of integrity and respect from others, jobs, community status, and money. When this happens, gossip can be considered, “slander” or “libel” if it occurs in print or on the internet through cyber bullying. With this in mind, it is important to remind kids that not only is spreading gossip about someone in school a definition of “what is bullying in school, ” but it is also grounds for a civil lawsuit from the offended parties. People, including kids, should be taught to watch what they say from an early age, so that others are not hurt or their reputations are not damaged from the lies. For the record, the only defense for a libel or slander lawsuit (if it comes to that) is truth. In other words, if the offense the rumor is about proves to be true, there is no case. If it is not, however, there can be large compensatory damages won from the offending party. Remember the line between gossip and slander is slim. Don’t do it.
Exclusion & Discrimination
One of the worst things about bullying in school is the fact that it creates a scenario which includes ostracizing those who are targeted and excluding them from school activities or other events. While there can be no controlling such exclusion among casual social circles, excluding them from school sponsored events becomes a serious legal problem for schools. Discrimination and exclusion in schools is never okay for schools to do. So if you know of any event from which someone was excluded, for any reason other than a performance-based criteria, call your local attorney to have them look into this.
Any type of verbal abuse which includes name-calling, put-downs, ridicule, or negative speech regarding ones race or other factors is never okay. The purpose of verbal abuse, just like any other form of bullying, is to gain control over the victim and make them feel bad. This should never be allowed in school (or anywhere else), so steps should be taken to ensure that it doesn’t happen. Any form of verbal abuse IS considered bullying and it should be handled according to your school bullying policy, whether it occurs from teachers, kids, or other school staff.
Negative Comments On Race, Religion, Gender Or Other Factors
Any form of discrimination, including negative and condescending comments made by others regarding one’s demographic status, such as race, religions, sexual orientation, or other factors should never be allowed. Teachers and staff members should work hard to ensure that kids are taught not to make any negative comments toward others due to their differences in race or other such factors. This is not only a definition of “what is bullying in school,” but it also constitutes legal grounds for a lawsuit from the offended parties.
Causes Of Bullying In School
When we look into causes of bullying in school, we see there are a number of factors influencing why kids do it. From low self-esteem issues, to home situations, to improper perceptions of others, there are many factors influencing such negative behaviors which result in bullying. Counselors should take it as one of their chief responsibilities to work with kids who fit these criteria to try to build up their own self-esteem so that they will not feel compelled to pick on others in this way. In addition, school counselors should work with victims of bullying to rebuild their esteem, since victims of bullying often become bullies or violent offenders themselves.
What To Do Next
The key to handling all forms of bullying is to take it seriously, to realize that many forms of school bullying are also criminal or civil offenses which are either punishable by law or grounds for civil court actions. If kids and parents and community members all understand that all bullying is wrong and that some are legal issues, perhaps many of these incidents can be stopped before they get out of control.
Early Reporting Is The Key
Encourage kids to report every incident of bullying, no matter how small or large. This will discourage the bully from continuing if they know that it will be reported every time. Remember that some bullies wait to see if anything happens from the first incident before continuing to harass or bully their victim.
Parents are an important component in the fight against bullying. Parents can get involved in this by reminding their kids to not leave incidents of bullying unreported and by frequently asking their child how their day went and getting involved. PTO organizations are designed to support parents and give them important information as to how to handle bullying as well as other situations with your children when they occur. They are also good to encourage interaction between teachers and parents, so that they can all work together to combat the problem in the future.
It Takes A Village
When discussing bullying in school, we are reminded that “it takes a village.” Every child, teacher, parent, and community member can be a part of the fight against such attacks and lower their risk of school violence by simply making a stand against bullying. Being proactive and teaching kids to stop bullying by reporting any incidents they see or are a witness to will also help. Classes should observe “no bullying” awareness days or draw posters about the problem to display in the library and halls, as well as other activities to promote a sense of awareness about the bullying issue. Together, we can make a difference if everyone understands the harmful effects of bullying and how each person should take an active role to prevent it and punish those who refuse to reform.
There are many great resources today to aid in the fight against bullying. Local law enforcement, DHS officials, area counselors, and others are willing and ready to aid schools in stamping out the bullying problem and replacing it with a positive sense of community among students, faculty, administrators, and parents. That’s what we do here at nobullying.com too. We provide helpful information to help in the fight against bullying and our goals are that someday no child will ever feel they cannot go to school because of the fear of a bully.