Signs your student is a bully!
Brandon and Larry were good friends ever since elementary school. Throughout their academic years, Brandon, who was outgoing, down-to-earth and popular, maintained a C average. Larry was the reticent type who was alone most of the time and was a B student. Both spent time on Facebook, but Larry practically made it his life.
One evening Brandon posted a message on his Facebook wall which went to all his friends. It was a carefully constructed, short essay describing in a very lewd and vulgar fashion his homosexual feelings and what he wanted to do most with a male. As one of Brandon’s Facebook friends, I knew right away that it was not him. Later on he found out that Larry had hacked into his Facebook profile, made the message and later on joked about it. Brandon deleted and blocked him and their friendship was never the same!
What is Cyber Bullying?
Cyber bullying is when a teenager is harassed, picked on or tormented by a person or persons online, or by other means of electronic communication – and it is on the rise! Statistics show that 50% of adolescents were victims of cyber bullying in one form or another. The unusual aspect of the incident I mentioned is that the victim was not of a vulnerable nature, whereas the arbitrator was the insecure one. Brandon’s bullying was a subtle, passive outlet for his low self-esteem. This hidden aspect of bullying is less predictable than active and open harassment, but it is just as damaging. As a rule, most bullies are found to have low self-esteem.
Signs of a Bully
No matter what label it carries, whether passive or active, bullying is bullying! Teachers and parents should note student and children’s behavioral patterns and reactions to certain video games, forums and Internet social websites. They should also observe their behavior around their peers. A bully can secretly idolize someone, but at the same time discredit everything they do, embarrass and or belittle them in public.
Signs of facing a bully include:
- Lack of ability to express themselves in a constructive manner
- Casts veiled insults at those in authority (teachers/parents) to undermine them
- Constant indulgence in violent, or vulgar video games
- Oversensitive to any form of constructive criticism
- Picks on a person (or persons) they feel is weak or vulnerable
Concerned teachers should note negative behavioral patterns in students and also be prepared to discuss these issues with parents and teens, if they notice disruptive behavior developing. Timely consideration in dealing with a case of bullying can put an end to the problem and prevent impending tragedies such as the Megan Meier incident.
Who Was Megan Meier? Did she face a bully?
Megan Meier was the victim of cyber bullying by a neighbor who she knew and trusted. Lori Drew, her daughter and former employee all pretended to be friends with Megan on MySpace by impersonating a young boy. Their constant insults caused Meier to commit suicide. She died on October 17th, 2006. This form of persecution is harder to put an end to because it is more difficult to trace. People are not dealing with the intimidator face to face, but instead, through electronic means.
What Can Be Done when facing a bully?
Although it is impossible to constantly monitor a child, there are preventative measures that can be taken to protect teens and minimize e-stalking. Many student activities involve Internet media and most students I know retrieve homework assignments and questions from friends online via Facebook when they are absent. For teachers and parents:
- Be aware of online games, forums and email contacts that the teen is a part of
- Make sure extracurricular activities are outlined in detail as to what the student partakes in
- Teens must report all forms of online harassment and/or abuse they experience
This tip may sound overbearing, but if your students are huddled in a corner laughing loudly at something, ask in a casual and friendly manner what they are looking at and if you can see it. Nine times out of ten I have discovered that it was a photo or video of a student that was either being made fun of, or something embarrassing had happened to them and someone caught it on camera.