Being a kid is tough without all of the extra stress of being picked on. While most school aged kids are picked on at some point, there is a vast difference between innocent joking with each other and bullying. By definition, bullying is continued aggressive behavior by one or more individuals that makes another individual or individuals feel uncomfortable or threatened. So, what is bulling? If there are kids that always make fun of you or try to hurt or fight with you, they are bullies. If they take your things and won’t give them back, they are bullies. If your “friends” on Facebook keep writing mean things on your wall or if they post mean pictures of you, they are bullying you. If they are telling other people lies about you and those people tell more people, then that is bullying.
If you watch older television shows, you will see the stereotypical definition of what is bulling in just about every show. When you compare the bullies in these shows, you will see they all have something in common. Most of them are larger boys who used their size to intimidate smaller boys into giving him their lunch money, taking a different way home from school or doing his homework for him. While this does still happen in today’s society, this is not even the most common type any longer. Gone are the days when children only had to worry about someone trying to take their lunch money or pushing them down in the halls at school.
What Is Bullying?: The Basic Definition
Before delving into the various definitions that describe different types of bullies, it is essential to understand the basic definition of what is bullying. According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, bullying is defined as “to treat abusively” or “to affect by means of force or coercion.” When you look deeper into the meaning of bullying, you will see that these definitions shine through in the meaning of all these types, giving them a common thread that ties them together under one large umbrella. In no sense of the word is bullying ever an appropriate behavior, whether among children or adults.
In addition to the dictionary definition of bullying, there are other factors that determine if the behavior qualifies. For instance, bullying behavior is often deliberate and executed repeatedly over a period of time. Bullies rarely attack their victims once and then move on to someone else. When they identify a target, they go after that individual time and time again. Those who are targeted often have a difficult time getting the behavior to stop, even when they seek assistance. Anything that falls under one of these categories can be listed as bullying.
What is Bullying: Types of Bullying
- This is anything that does bodily harm to someone. It includes hitting, tripping and throwing objects at someone.One of the most common types of bullying that comes to mind is physical bullying. Those who participate in this behavior are the ones who physically lash out at other people, either by physically intimidating them or by causing actual harm to the victim. They may push, hit or spit on their victim, causing physical damage and exerting their power over the person. However, this type of bullying doesn’t even have to involve laying your hands on someone else; it can also be classified as threatening the person with physical violence.While not commonly thought of as physical bullying, there are other elements that can fall under this category. Stealing and hiding items from the owner can be classified under this category. It can also mean intimidating someone into doing something they don’t want to do. This type of bullying may also cross over into other types, blurring the lines of the various definitions.
- This type of bullying occurs when someone is repeatedly tortured by things that others say. This can include telling lies about another person, telling a person that they are worthless or stupid, threatening to hurt someone, and always making fun of someone.
- Cyber Bullying
- While this bullying is much newer than the other two, it has become much more damaging. With all of the social networking sites available, cyberbullying is rapidly increasing. This kind of bullying can be anything from always posting mean things on a person’s Facebook wall or Twitter feed, posting embarrassing pictures online, posting fake pictures for the purpose of embarrassment or posting harmful videos on YouTube. This bullying is so damaging due to the fact that once it is online, it is always online. It can be deleted from the original source, but once others share and repost, it can be everywhere within minutes, making it very difficult to remove.
One of the newest types of bullying classifications is cyberbullying. When you ask someone what is bulling, they may not consider the behaviors individuals participate in online aren’t often the first thing that crosses their mind. In fact, cyberbullying is so new, few parents even realize what is happening online. In basic terms, cyberbullying is defined as negative behavior online that targets individuals as a method of harassment. It often follows many of the same examples as verbal and emotional bullying because it is done through communication. This type of bullying can take place on any website where individuals interact with each other, such as gaming sites, social media and chat rooms.So, what do the numbers say about bullying? 77 percent of kids have been the victims of school bullying. This includes physical, mental and verbal abuse. Studies also show that 85 percent of kids have been cyberbullied. Between all of these, that is one of every four kids bullied in some way every day. What’s worse is the fact that 160,000 children miss school every day because they are afraid.
- While intimidating someone into doing something he or she doesn’t want to do classifies as physical bullying, there is also an emotional element to this type of bullying. Other examples of verbal or emotional bullying can include:
- Name calling.
Sometimes these insults and names are about the person who is being bullied. In other cases, they may be about the victim’s loved ones, giving a personal undertone to the bullying. The bully doesn’t care about what they are doing to the other person. In many situations, verbal or emotional bullying can carry more long-term effects than other types of bullying, making it a dangerous game.
- Relationship Bullying
- Some people want to control those who are in relationships with them, whether it is a romantic relationship or a friendship. In either case, relationship bullying is about controlling the other person. Some bullies will use the silent treatment as a way to get what they want from the other person, refusing to talk to them until they comply. Others enjoy spreading lies and rumors about the other person. This often happens in school settings when teenagers are looking to damage the reputation of one of their classmates for just about any reason. In most cases, it is because they are mad about something relatively minor.
- Workplace Bullying
- Bullying isn’t something that only affects children who are going to school or interacting with their peers online. It can also happen in the workplace environment. Sometimes a boss can act as a bully by keeping an employee from advancing in his or her career or giving one employee the types of jobs no one wants on purpose just because no one else volunteers. This behavior can also take place in retaliation if an employee reports inappropriate behavior by another employee. If that employee finds out who made the report or simply thinks he or she knows who did it, the bullying behavior may begin. Some employers even use bullying tactics to get an individual to quit rather than firing them. Most of this behavior is unethical and should be reported to human resources or the owner of the company if there is no HR department.
- Financial Bullying
- Another adult form of bullying is financial bullying. This often appears in long-term romantic relationships or marriages. One individual will gain control over the couple’s money and then dictate whether or not the other person can spend the money. They may give their partner a specific allowance for their own needs or to buy groceries, but all other purchases must go through the one in control of the money. If the other party doesn’t “behave,” the money may be revoked. This can be a sticky situation, though, because some individuals simply aren’t good with money and need someone else to take control.
What Is Bullying for Kids?
The following are actual examples of kids who have been bullied at school:
- The young lady moved to a new school for seventh grade and from the first week, she was bullied. She was called names and her bully was always trying to get her to fight. She was bullied in P.E. class and had her coat stolen. This continued until tenth grade.
- A high school senior with a learning disability was bullied by his classmates. He had done a dance at the prom and his classmates kept making fun of him for it. They would get him to do the dance in class and they would film him and post the video on Facebook and YouTube.
- A young boy in fourth grade who was an A/B student. Suddenly his grades started dropping more and more. He kept telling his parents that nothing was wrong. It finally got to the point where this young man was lying in the floor screaming and begging not to go to school. He finally told his parents that there were certain students who were physically and verbally bullying him. It was worse at P.E. and all of the fourth grade classes were in that class together – almost 100 kids and one teacher. Some of the students would throw sports equipment at the boy’s head and chest, and would trip him during activities. The following year, the boy was in a different school and the same things began to happen.
Many children aren’t sure what is acceptable and what isn’t, especially in new situations. If they see a lot of bullying behavior, they can easily begin to think it is the acceptable way to act. This can lead to more bullying behavior and less intervention by adults or others in charge because no one is reporting it. This is why it is essential for you to teach your children about what is considered bullying behavior so they can help put a stop to it.
Sometimes all it takes is telling your child that bullying behavior is anything that hurts or harms another individual, whether it is physically or emotionally. Just because something you say hurts someone’s feeling doesn’t mean it doesn’t qualify as bullying. Role playing with your children can give him examples against which he can compare the behavior he sees and determine for himself if it qualifies as bullying. He can then use that information and decide whether an adult is needed to defuse the situation.
So who is helping these kids? Unfortunately, 25 percent of teachers are okay with bullying and teasing, and only intervene 4 percent of the time. Although most schools now have anti-bullying policies, not all of the adults help kids who are bullied. Most kids suffering from bullying won’t tell anyone. As for the above scenarios, the results are these:
- The young lady tried her best to ignore the bully and eventually the bullying stopped.
- A substitute teacher witnessed what was happening with the high school senior and told the bullies that they needed to stop what they were doing and leave him alone. The boy told the teacher that they always did that and they were his friends.
- The parents of the fourth grader talked to the P.E. teacher at the first school and she did nothing. They then sent a letter to the principal who gave a copy to the boy’s teacher. The teacher confronted the accused bullies and reprimanded them and the principal complained to the board of education. As a result of the complaint, the board put the P.E. classes back on their original schedule with each class happening separately. The parents complained to the principal at the last school the boy attended and she did nothing. She said the kids were just playing. The boy is now home-schooled.
As shown, either the kids won’t tell anyone they are being bullied, they don’t realize it’s bullying or the administration won’t do anything to stop it for the majority of the time. Luckily, there are some good administrators.
What is Bullying: Signs of Bullying
Most parents can tell when something is wrong with their child. If a child who has normally been happy and outgoing suddenly seems quiet, reserved or worrisome, there is likely something wrong. If a child is an honor student who suddenly or gradually starts doing worse, find out what is going on. Sudden outbursts over seemingly minor things can be a sign that there is a problem.
Those that bully and their victims are both likely to show signs of the behavior. Your child may be a victim of this behavior if he or she exhibits the following:
- Unexplained injuries.
- Lost or damaged items.
- Feeling sick often.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Trouble in school.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Self-destructive behaviors.
- Withdrawing from family and friends.
- Low self-esteem.
It can also be useful to learn the warning signs that your child may be a bully. No one wants to think they have raised a bully, but you must recognize the signs to stop the behavior.
These signs include:
- Frequent fights, physical or verbal.
- Unexplained money or belongings.
- No sense of responsibility for actions.
- Hanging out with other known bullies.
- Aggressive behavior.
- Blaming others for problems.
- Frequent visits to the principal’s office or being sent home from school.
What is Bullying? How to Handle a Bully
If you are being bullied, the most important thing to do is remove yourself from the situation. Someone isn’t going to be able to bully you if you aren’t there to bully. However, it is also important to reach out to someone for help. For children, this can be a parent, teacher or other trusted adult. For adults who are being bullied, reaching out to a boss, partner or trusted friend can help them deal with the negative impact of the bullying behavior. Always report the bullying to the proper authorities. For instance, cyberbullying should be reported to the website or even the police if it is serious enough. Workplace bullying should be reported to the human resources department or a manager who isn’t involved.
The tactics needed to handle a bully when you are a witness to the actions is fairly similar. However, instead of walking away yourself, approach the person who is being victimized and help them get away from the situation. Place a hand on his or her shoulder and talk gently. Encourage him or her to walk away and join you. This will most likely diffuse the situations because many bullies pick on someone when they are alone. You should also encourage the victim to reach out for help. This will ensure the problem is handled in an appropriate manner.
Some of the best ways to teach children to handle bullies is to:
- Ignore the behavior.
- Don’t cry or become visibly upset. This typically eggs on the behavior as the goal is often to get a reaction.
- Respond calmly and firmly.
- Turn it into a joke.
- Remove yourself from the situation.
- Take a deep breath and remind yourself the bully is the one who has a problem, not you. Don’t let his or her words affect you.
Many schools have taken clear steps in putting an end to bullying behavior. Now that they recognize what is bulling and can understand how it happens in their schools, many of them are creating bullying prevention plans, as well as plans to handle the problem when it arises. This can give children peace of mind that they will be protected if they find themselves a victim. These plans detail to parents, teachers and administrators how everything will be handled.
The key to putting a stop to bullying behavior is to educate students and teach them how to avoid participating in bullying behavior. Many schools use assemblies and classes to teach their students how to identify bullying, what the consequences of participating are and what they should do if they are bullied or witness the behavior. This can help reduce the number of instances that take place on school grounds and could even carry over into the student’s home life. Any step toward prevention can be a useful asset for students, parents and faculty.
In addition to focusing on prevention, schools usually have a set strategy for dealing with bullying behavior. Before you send your child to any school, make sure you understand this policy and the steps needed to report this type of behavior should you need it. In most cases, you will need to talk to your child’s teacher first, then the administration and finally the school board if action isn’t taken. This will ensure all students are heard.
What is Bullying? Home Prevention
Many parents turn to the schools to educate their children in practices that should be at least partially the responsibility of the parents. For instance, many parents want their children to learn sex education at school. The same is becoming true in relation to bullying. However, it can be much more effective when parents are backing up what the schools are saying in regard to this type of behavior. Talk to your child about what he or she sees in school and what he or she should do if they are a victim or see someone being bullied. These lessons are just as valuable at home as they are in school.
Teaching your children about this at home can also help protect them online. Many students use computers at home as a method of communication with their friends, to do homework and to play games. However, the instances of bullying online have greatly increased over the years. Helping your children understand that harassing someone online and making them feel bad is just as unacceptable as physical bullying or saying something directly to a person can help rein in the behavior and make a difference. Education is key in putting a stop to bullying behavior.
When it comes to what is bulling , If You Aren’t a Part of the Solution, You Are Part of the Problem
This may sound cliche, but it is the truth when it comes to what is bulling. Once you understand what the behavior is and what you can do to make a difference and stop it, doing nothing should not be an option. When you allow the bullying to continue, you are putting yourself in a position that is no better than the behavior itself. Do something. You don’t have to put yourself in the middle of the action, but something as simple as talking to someone else about it can make a difference. For instance, if a child tells a teacher about something he or she witnessed in the hallway, the teacher can then take action by talking to the students involved and determining if further repercussions are in order. The bully may think again before subjecting someone else to the same treatment.
You Can Make a Difference
You may be just one person, but remember that you can make a difference in the world of what is bulling. The bullies prey on those who are weak and aren’t likely to fight back. If just one person steps up and fights back, it can cause a bully to think about whether it is worth the effort. The more people who stand up to bullies, the less likely the behavior will continue with new victims. It begins to put an end to the vicious cycle of bullying.
What is Bullying? Bullies Need Help Too
Many bullies participate in the behavior because they are suffering in some area of their life. Some of them have emotional difficulties due to their upbringing while others are simply struggling with school. They lash out as a way to get attention from adults, even if it is negative attention. When you reach out and do something about the bullying behavior you witness, you can get the bully the help he or she needs. When adults get involved and identify the reasons for the behavior, they can step in and suggest counseling, tutoring or other services that can help the bully overcome his or her behavior.
Bullying has been around for a long time. The likelihood that it will end completely is not incredibly high. However, there are things that can be done that can curb the behavior and help reduce the number of kids who have to experience this problem. It all begins by understanding what is bullying. Those who don’t truly understand what it is and what type of behavior qualifies won’t be able to effectively stop it. This includes understanding the myths and other misconceptions that often surround the topic. Many people blindly follow what they have been taught about bullying and don’t understand the serious nature of the problem.
Once individuals are able to identify bullying behavior and the signs, it can help them take action and fight against those who feel the need to bully others. It is only with the action of numerous individuals, all fighting for the same cause, that children can be free of their bullies and not suffer from the negative effects of this behavior on the victims. This is not an innocent part of childhood; it is something that has to end for the sake of future generations.
What is Bullying? The Triggers of Bullying
Now that you understand what is bullying, it is important to learn more about the potential triggers. Many experts really don’t know for sure why people bully others. However, there are plenty of theories that can explain the behavior of many of the bullies. Some of these theories are relevant to most bullies, while others only relate to a select few. In any case, understanding why people choose to bully can help you understand their behavior better and focus on stopping it to save the pain and humiliation of others.
Some of the most common triggers of bulling include:
- Feeling as if the victim deserves the treatment.
- The popularity of the victim and the bully.
- Cultural differences.
- Social issues, such as poverty, jealousy or a lack of social skills.
- Family issues, such as a cold home environment or lack of parental involvement.
- A desire for power.
- A personal history of being bullied. Many bullies do it to others because it’s what they’ve learned.
It can be difficult to pinpoint exactly why someone chooses to act like a bully. However, in most situations, it is something that is wrong on the bully’s side of the relationship versus something the victim has done or said. This can often cause a lot of confusion with the target because he likely doesn’t know why he has become the target of bullying behavior.
What is Bullying? Misconceptions of Bullying
Many individuals hear things about bulling that lead to misconceptions. These misunderstandings can actually lead people to feel as if bullying is okay, at least in some situations. The bottom line is that bullying is never okay. Understanding what these misconceptions are can help you avoid this dangerous trap. Some of the most common sources of misconstrued information regarding this process claim that bullying is:
- A normal rite of passage for children. Everyone goes through it.
- It’s just a part of growing up.
- Physical bullying is the worst kind. It’s the only one you really have to worry about.
- Parents would know if their child was a bully. No parent wants to accept his or her child is the one bullying others.
- Bullies aren’t popular and are looking for ways to fit in. The most aggressive bullies are often more popular than others.
The motivation of each bully is different, as is the situation from which the victim comes. However, when these myths make it seem as if bullying is really no big deal, it belittles the experience for the victims and makes them feel even less than what they already do. This is why it is so important to bust any misconceptions related to the behavior to strengthen individuals to fight back against the bullies and put an end to the behavior.
What is Bullying? The Negative Impacts of Bullying
Another important element in understanding bullying and its definition is to understand the negative impacts it can have on the victim and the bully. Bullies are not victimless in this behavior. Many bullies are suffering from mental anguish and require some assistance of their own. However, the effects on the bullied can often be far more severe and last longer than those of the bullies, making it essential to learn about the negative impacts.
Bullying can have a negative impact on the quality of education children receive. Many children who are bullied don’t enjoy attending school and do whatever it takes to avoid going. They are more likely to pretend to be sick or come up with other excuses to stay home. Their schoolwork will suffer because they are unable to concentrate on the subject at hand for fear the bully will be ready to attack around the corner. These students are also more likely to skip school without parental permission out of fear for what may happen.
In many cases, the health and overall well being of the victim is at risk due to the bullying behavior. There are many negative health impacts that can affect individuals based on the situation and their health before the bullying begins. For instance, someone who is bullied is more likely to experience low-self esteem and sleeping problems. Some of the other potential health impacts include:
- Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder
Because of the nature of these ailments, many children who are bullied exhibit warning signs that can help their teachers, parents and other caregivers identify if the child is going through bullying.
The safety of the bullied is also often at risk because of the way they often react to the behavior. Many students will act out because of the way they were treated, causing more destruction in their wake. Some of these negative impacts can include:
- Increased aggression
- Self-mutilation or cutting
- Thoughts of suicide
- Fear of others
All of these problems can cause safety issues, either with the student or for those with whom the student comes into contact. If you look at many of the recent school shootings in which the shooter was a student, the motivation behind the act was often found to be bullying behavior to some degree. While these reactions are not appropriate, neither is the behavior that pushes these students to act out in retaliation.
Who Is at Risk for Being Victimized with bullying?
The next step is to identify which types of children or adults are more likely to become victims of this type of behavior. In many cases, the victims may be experiencing a weakness of some type that makes them more vulnerable or attracts the attention of others. Some of the most common factors that can indicate your child is at risk for bullying include:
- Being different from their peers.
- Appearing weak or defenseless.
- Suffering from depression, anxiety or low self-esteem.
- Having fewer friends.
- Not getting along well with others.
The key that ties all these factors together is appearing different from their peers. Due to the way they were raised or simply the way they perceive things, many children want to spend time with others who are like them. This causes them to identify differences in other children, which can be targeted to allow for bullying. While this is not the right way to treat people, it happens far too often.
What is Bullying? Who Is Likely to Bully?
Just like some people are more likely to become the victims of bullies, there are others who are more likely to become bullies themselves. Those who have suffered under the thumb of a bully, whether it was at home, in the neighborhood or at school, are more likely to bully other kids as a way to feel better about themselves. Other risk factors include:
- Being overly aggressive.
- Less parental involvement in the home.
- Thinking badly of others.
- Difficulty following the rules set by adults.
- A positive outlook on violence.
- Having friends who are bullied.
Bullies come from all walks of life. They may be popular or they may be loners. Some are suffering from many of the same things as their victims, while others are more well adjusted. This is why it is so important for parents to keep an open mind and understand that no matter how hard they try, their child may still have bullying tendencies. If parents would identify the signs of being a bully, they could help put a stop to the behavior before it becomes a more serious problem.
What is Bullying: What Can Parents Do?
The best thing parents can do is pay attention. Parents know their children better than anyone and they know when something is off. Parents should be interested in what their kids are doing. Ask them how their day was and if everything is okay. When kids know their parents are interested in them, they will be more likely to let someone know if something is wrong. NEVER brush something off that your child thinks is important. Even if it is something they made with their Legos. It is important to them so it should be important to you. This will show them that everything about them matters to you. If your child comes to you and tells you that he/she is being bullied or even that someone said something that they didn’t appreciate, let the school administration know. If nothing is done, the parent should go to the board with a complaint. Make sure to put each complaint into writing so there is proof. Many school systems see parents who could care less, so they act in the same manner many times. Be involved; your school will love you for it.
On the other side, parents should also make sure they aren’t creating a bully. Editor and publisher of Mothering Magazine, Peggy O’Mara stated “The way we talk to our children becomes their inner voice.” DO NOT compare your children with others and do not badger them about things. NEVER tell them they are worthless. If correction is needed, use constructive criticism and do it with a calm, caring voice. Many bullies are made by their parents. In their minds, they hear all of the negativity and that is how they presume things should be. What a child sees and hears at home is what they do. Be that positive example.
So, what is bulling? Bullying is an ever-growing problem. With the right tools, it can start decreasing. Parents need to make sure that their child’s safety and well-being are first and foremost. Kids need to tell someone when something is wrong. Administrators need to step in and do what’s right. Together, bullying can be a thing of the past.
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