This subject is one that is often wrongly perceived as a minor problem but in fact it is a very serious matter which demands much more attention by all. It affects many lives and is often accompanied and associated with harassment and violence in Australia. Bullying is a form of human rights violation and can ruin many lives particularly in cases involving of younger school children. Bullying in many cases can lead to violence and suicide.
In 1994, an Australian Government inquiry identified and highlighted the growing problem of Bullying in Australia. The study also identified bullying as the most serious form of violence in Australian schools. Several projects have been embarked upon in Australia such as the “National Safe Schools project” and the South Australian, “Bullying, Out of Bounds Project” and others. Although these projects have helped in some ways to highlight and address the problem, bullying nonetheless remains a serious problem today in Australia. This article discusses all aspects of Bullying in Australia. It takes a broad look at the problem of bullying and concludes with measures for addressing the problem of bullying in Australian schools and other places where it occurs.
Definition of Bullying
According to Bullying definition by experts in the field, bullying is a form of aggressive and unwanted behavior which is mostly common among school aged children in many Australian schools. This behavior typically intimidates the bullied individual and is often done on a continuing basis and repeated from time to time. Children who bully other kids often rely on their perceived energy, strength and power to direct their bullying activities to others through many ways and methods including the use of information, or in some cases through an exercise of their physical strength.
Other associated characteristic of bullying is that it does not just happen once and stops. It continues through many direct and indirect ways which may include physical attacks, verbal attacks, using threats and in other cases through spreading intimidating and false rumors directed against the bullied person.
Where and when does Bullying Happen?
Bullying happens at any time in many places particularly in Australian school compounds and buildings. It may happen during the school hours, at school playgrounds or after school hours. Available evidence shows that most bullying in Australian schools happen inside the school buildings. Most of the bullying happening outside of the school buildings take place inside school buses. Other bullying instances happen in residential neighborhoods and playgrounds. Bullying happens largely outside the classrooms, but may also happen in some cases inside classrooms where bullies may use physical bullying signs often unnoticed by the teacher.
Bullying Facts in Australia
The data on bullying in Australia is alarming. According to research conducted by the Child Health promotion Research Center and the Australian 2009 Covert Bullying Prevalence Study, the following data shows that;
- One in four of year 4 to year 9 Australian students say they were bullied every four weeks, about 27 percent of the students
- The highest bullying is recorded among year 5 and year 8 students
- Eighty five percent of students bully other students either online or offline
- Eight-four percent of students bullied online were also bullied offline
- Eighty seven percent of onlookers also played some role in the bullying process
- Harmful teasing was the most prevalent of depicted bullying behaviors
- Older students tend to participate more in Cyber bullying behavior
Types of Bullying
There are many types of bullying behavior, the most instances of bullying occurs through the following methods;
Verbal Bullying-This form of bullying may include the usage of methods such as:
- Name Calling
- Written communication
- Teasing techniques
- Intimidating sexual language
- Taunting strategies
Social Engagement Bullying- Generally these forms of bullying involve relationships through calculated efforts to intimidate and hurt people such as;
- Spreading false stories
- False rumors against someone
- Public Embarrassment
- Use of intimidation tactics
Physical Bullying- attacking or hurting someone such as;
- Physical attacks
- Kicking or pinching someone
- Spitting techniques
- Use of physical and obscene gestures
- Damaging someone’s personal possessions
Other subtle forms of bullying can also occur such as covert bullying, psychological bullying and cyber bullying.
This form of bullying often involves teasing and generally begins in late primary years and is most common among girls, but also happens among boys as well. One common feature of bullying is that it mostly happens between the same genders.
Psychological bullying happens by means of intimidation. It also happens through the use of manipulation tactics and through methods of stalking.
Cyber bulling is relatively speaking newer bullying tactic which relies on the use of internet to bully and intimidate someone. Cyber bullying can also happen through social media channels and through texting and mobile messages.
Bullying At risk Factors
Bullying can happen to anyone but there are certain groups who are often targeted and bullied more than others. Certain groups like Gay and lesbians youths are often targeted and bullied. Bisexual and other transgender groups are also targeted. Youths with disabilities are bullied and other socially isolated children may also be victims of bullying as well. The following factors are often associated with at risk bullying factors
- Children perceived to be weak
- Children who appear incapable to defend themselves
- Children who may look different from the majority of the dominant race
- Children with low self esteem
- Less popular children
- Children with few or no friends
Effects of Bullying
Bullying can affect everyone in many different ways. It is linked to many negative outcomes and can even impact the child’s mental health in some ways. The bullied children often are unhappy and may have difficulties coping with the negative circumstance associated with bullying. Bullied children are often depressed, and they find it harder to make friends. Some have problems coping with their school work. In extreme cases, bullying can lead to suicidal behavior which could ultimately lead someone to commit suicide. Bullying can have the following harmful effects;
- Feelings of guilt in the bullied person
- Helpless feelings and hopelessnes
- Mood swings
- Unsafe feelings
- Feelings of rejection
- Feelings of shame and
- Low and decreased academic achievement
- In some cases can lead to suicide or suicidal thoughts
These problems are harmful to the well being of the bullied person. In some instances, the bullied person can take an extreme revenge measure. For instance during the 1990s in some of the school shooting cases, it was shown that the shooters had been victims of bullying in the past.
Kids Likely to Bully Others
Kids who bully others generally have certain factors in common. They have the tendency to use alcohol and other mind altering drugs and substances. They very often get into all kinds of fights and often engage in sexual activities at an early stage. These kids often have some forms of criminal records and other convictions including traffic violations if they drive. Kids who bully others are likely to drop out of school
Unfortunately, bullying is a major issue of concern in many Australian schools and communities. Bullying prevention initiatives are needed to combat the dangers of bullying for everyone including the bully person and the bullied individual. Consequently all efforts should be directed at ways and means to reduce instances of bullying in and outside school premises. Some projects have been initiated such as the “Not in our School” campaign through which students are empowered to create environments within their schools free of any kinds or forms of bullying activities and harassment. Through such initiative students get involved in all forms of anti bullying campaigns and many other students are encouraged to take part in bullying prevention projects on the school compounds.
Such project has helped in many respects to foster some sense of safety inside school compounds. The “Not in our School” campaign has helped in the creation of networks of other schools where emphasis is being placed on such issues such as safety and tolerance as well as emphasizing the need to respect diversity. Such projects have also helped emphasize issues of respect and inclusion in many ways.
Getting parents Involved
Many parents should be involved in addressing bullying in schools which may unknowingly involve their own kids. Bullying could be addressed at home because it may have some relations to things happening within the home environment. Parents should endeavor to coach their kids on the dangers of bullying and measures they should take when they are being bullied by someone.
Getting professional help to bully kids
Parents of students who bully others could also seek professional therapies for their children as a last result. Like adults, children could benefit from professional therapies which could help them deal with behavioral problems early in their lives. There is also associated school stress which some children may need help in dealing with. Therapies can identify pre-bullying habits in young children such as emotional and behavioral problems. The following signs may be indicative of your child’s need to see a therapist for help;
- Developmental problems
- Learning or attention matters
- Excessive anger
- Social withdrawing or isolation
- victim of bullying
- Mood swings
- Signs of unhappiness
- Excessive aggression
This article fully explored the issue of bullying in Australia particularly within the schools where bullying is more problematic. Serious awareness of the problem of bullying was highlighted in an Australian Government study conducted in 1994, which showed that the issue of bullying was a serious problem among Australian school system. For better clarity we explored the real meaning and definition of bullying which involves a depiction of forms of aggressive and unwanted behavior which tends to undermine respect for others through intimidation and other tactics including in some cases the use of physical means. Bullying is very rampant among school age students and can cause serious consequences to the health and well being of the bullied individual and in extreme circumstance can lead to suicidal tendencies and actual suicide.
The article further discussed many forms of bullying including Physical, Verbal, and Social engagement types. There are also other forms of bullying such as covert bullying, psychological bullying and the newer forms of bullying such as cyber bullying which is carried out by means of the internet through emails and other forms of mobile communications. Cyber bullying is on the rise in Australia according to published reports.
Additionally this piece discussed when and where bullying happens, and traced bullying occurrence to mostly inside school compounds, school buses and in community playgrounds and neighborhoods. This article also explored the risk factors for bullying and who is likely to bully others. The effects of bullying on individuals were discussed and finally discussed ways to address and tackle the problem of bullying in Australia. Much has been accomplished in creating the awareness for the dangers of this problem but much work remains to be done to deal with this problem more effectively.It is nevertheless important to note that Australia has made some progress in reducing cases of bullying in schools. This progress comes from increasing awareness being created in the public domain by all who are dedicated to a zero tollerance for bullying in Australia.