Australia is known for being a beautiful country with a large diversity of activities tourists can enjoy. However, not everyone knows that Australia, just like every other country in the world, has to deal with bullying. Bullying in Australia is a problem that is being addressed by officials. This is beneficial to its citizens since bullying can affect everyone within the social community in which bullying exists.
Physical bullying is where some act of violence is committed by a bully against someone else whom they feel is inferior to them. This can be by physically fighting with slaps, punches, grabs, pushes, trips, spitting, or kicks. It may also include property damage of some kind. The bully may steal one of the victim’s possessions such as an office supply or a personal letter. They may also destroy the property of the victim. It is possible the bully will try to make the destruction of property look like an accident. While these actions having taken place only one time might be considered a single attack, doing these things repeatedly is called physical bullying. Many times, groups of people are targeted such as a certain race, gender, or sexual orientation or preference. The fact is, many bullies feel their group is superior to the victim’s group.
Verbal abuse from bullies was the highest reported type of bullying in Australia. When a person is verbally assaulted, it can be extremely damaging to their self-esteem. This is especially true when children are verbally abused by adults. They may take every attack as fact and carry that into adulthood. In the workplace, verbal bullying is often sexual in nature. Women are often, but not always, the victim of these verbal assaults. Any time a boss or someone in authority is a bully to those under him, the workplace can become a very hostile place to be. Verbal bullying often happens when one individual attempts to keep another individual, whom they have deemed inferior, under their control. Some types of verbal bullying are:
Social Bullying / Relationship Aggression
Most people are aware of both verbal and physical bullying in Australia. There is another kind of bullying that wasn’t very common before the advent of social media and the Internet. It is called social bullying. Social bullying can be just as emotionally harming to its victim. With social bullying, also called Relationship aggression, the bully uses their relationship with the victim as a tool against them. They may get a group of people to “gang up” on an individual and exclude them or verbally abuse them. They may spread gossip, lies, or personal information. They use this information to publicly embarrass the victim in any way they can. Another way bullies find to socially bully others is to gain the victim’s trust only to break it soon after. They may decide to become friends with the victim to gain information about them or to simply hurt them. An example of social bullying may be when everyone in a class was invited to a birthday party except for one. Many schools in Australia now have a policy that if invitations are handed out, everyone gets one. In other situations, a co-worker may befriend another co-worker in order to gain information about their personal life. They may then spread it around the office to publicly embarrass the victim.
Australia is the number one country for cyberbullying. The reason for this is not clear, however officials are working to make sure the number of cyberbullying cases drops. Some of the mediums which people use to cyberbully are:
- Mobile phones
- Social media
- Chat rooms
The popularity of the Internet as well as social media certainly plays a role in the high number of cyberbullying reports in Australia. According to one study, teens ages 14-17 reported that they go online at least 1 time per week. Many go online much more often than that. Not surprisingly, Australian bullies are typically the same people who bully both online and offline. Females are more likely to get bullied online. One reason for this may be that social media is reported as being more important to females than males. The sad fact is, with new technology coming, tech savvy teens are going to be more and more likely to both bully and be bullied.
Covert Bullying in Australia
Covert bullying is another emotionally damaging form of bullying for the victim. It is not easily detected and too easily dismissed by authority figures as being harmless when it is anything but. Covert bullying is where an individual or a group of people are passive/ aggressive in their attempts to bully the victim. They may purposefully exclude or isolate certain people from social groups or activities. During class, students may make verbal jabs at certain groups of people during discussion time. It is not likely to be an obvious verbal assault on one individual, but rather a general statement meant to be passively insulting. They may use quiet intimidation to keep their victims “in their place.” Bullies using this tactic will often do what they can to damage the victim’s other relationships and make them appear and feel unwanted. Also, when confronted by an adult or other authority figures, bullies will often deny the victim’s accusations and state that their motives were pure. They may try to turn the situation around by making the victim look like a bully. Evidence that the exclusion or intimidation was done maliciously might be difficult to come by. Studies have reported that covert bullying in Australia may be present as early as Year 3.
Where Bullying Occurs
Bullying in Australia can occur in a number of places. It is often seen in schools by teachers and school administrators. Children bullying other children is common in Australia as it is in other parts of the world. Also, just like other places are beginning to see more often, teachers and school administrators have also been accused of bullying other students. Although bullying is often thought to happen only with children and at school, this is not the case. Bullying can occur among adults as well. Other places bullying occurs are:
- In the work place
- Among family members
- Among members of social clubs
- Between neighbors
- Among members of the same or opposite sports teams
Causes of Bullying in Australia
There is not one or two reasons that bullying occurs as often as it does. A number of factors have been found to be associated with bullying. It may be jealousy, low self-esteem, or lack of anger management or coping skills. There is almost always a lack of empathy for others by the bully when it comes to any form of bullying. Also, there is a great deal of research suggesting that most bullies have been the victim in other situations such as by a parent or sibling. They may also be the victim of bullying by a person in authority. Parents and spouses are sometimes known to take out their frustration for being bullies on their child or spouse. It could be behavior that is learned at a young age from television or adults in the child’s life. Often, bullies need to learn new and better ways to cope with their stress, anger, and low self-worth.
Effects of Bullying on the Victim
Victims are many more times likely to experience depression than an average person. While bullying is not the direct cause of suicide as is portrayed in news stories and other media outlets, bullying can be a huge factor in suicide. Victims of all forms of bullying are more likely to deal with thoughts of suicide at some point in their lives. Other factors of suicidal thoughts are difficult family lives, drug or alcohol abuse, other mental illnesses, and other unhealthy relationships. It should be noted that most children who are bullied, whether by an authority figure or another child, do not commit suicide. There is often something else going on in their lives. There is also a greater chance of bully-victims to develop psychotic symptoms and abuse drugs and alcohol. There is a chance that the victim will become the bully in many situations. Retaliation can be a deadly problem for leaders, bystanders, and the bullies themselves.
Bullying Affects Everyone
Bullying in Australia does not just affect the bully and the victim. All the other people who work, attend school, or socialize at the place the bullying occurs are more likely to experience depression and anger. They may develop a hopeless feeling that is difficult to express. They are also more likely to abuse drugs and alcohol. When a person witnesses acts of bullying, they often begin to experience feelings of danger. A place that they once viewed as safe may feel more uncomfortable. This can affect a young school aged child as well as a working adult. Siblings who witness physical bullying can feel scared even if they were not the victim.
Resources to Stop Bullying in Australia
There are many organizations committed to ending bullying in the country down under. Some of these are working to change the country’s laws to include stiff punishment for bullies. Others are working with groups that may experience more bullying than others such as minorities. Still others are concerned with gaining awareness for bullying so that more people can join the initiative. Educators have a wealth of resources in Australia to learn how to teach their students about the effects of bullying. Those who volunteer their time on behalf of the victims of abuse by bullies are greatly appreciated all over Australia.
Although many excellent resources exist in Australia to end bullying, the trends tend to show that bullying offline is increasing. With the addition of more and more new technology, the figures will only rise for online bullying as well. It is the job of parents, teachers, and other concerned citizens to do what they can to get educated on bullying topics and step in where they can help.