What is Bullying?

It was said..general information on bullying

A negative physical or verbal actions that have hostile intent, cause distress to victims, are repeated over time, and involve a power differential between bullies and their victims (Olweus, 1991; Pepler, Craig, & Connolly, 1997). With repeated bullying, the power relations between bullies and their victims become consolidated: bullies increase in power and victims lose power. In such a relationship, children who are being bullied become increasingly powerless to defend themselves.

Bullying is defined as any kind of ongoing physical or verbal mistreatment where there is an imbalance of power — usually a bigger, older child picking on a smaller or weaker one. Bullying is a game of “one-upmanship” — an attempt to win while the other loses. Another characteristic of bullying is that the victim appears to be very upset by the incident, while the bully is matter-of-fact, saying things like “What’s the big deal?” or “The kid asked for it,” according to William Porter, author of Bully Proofing Your School.

This difference in attitudes distinguishes bullying from more normal childhood conflicts — fisticuffs during a kickball game or a heated argument over whose turn it is on the swings, for instance — where both children are equally upset and angry over what happened. It’s really important for adults not to mistake bullying for normal childhood conflict. Some conflict between kids is expected. Bullying, on the other hand, shouldn’t be tolerated at all.

The Bully

It is generally accepted that bullying is a learned behaviour. Students who bully tend to display aggressive attitudes combined with a low level of self-discipline. They can lack a sense of remorse and often convince themselves that the victim deserves the treatment.

Students who bully can also be attention-seeking; often they set out to impress bystanders and enjoy the reaction their behaviour provokes. They tend to lack the ability to empathize. They are unaware or indifferent to the victim’s feelings. Others seem to enjoy inflicting pain. Many bullies, but not all, suffer from a lack of confidence and have low self-esteem.

It is not uncommon to find that students who engage in bullying behaviour are also bullied. They tend to be easily provoked and frequently provoke others.

The Victim

Any student through no fault of his/her own may be bullied. It is common in the course of normal play for students to tease or sometimes taunt each other. However, at a certain point, teasing may become a form of taunting and bullying behaviour. Students are particularly quick to notice differences in others and as a result those who are perceived as different are those more prone to encounter such behaviour. However, the students who are most at risk of becoming victims are those who react in a vulnerable and distressed manner. The seriousness and duration of the bullying behaviour is directly related to the student’s continuing response to the verbal, physical or psychological aggression. Some students can unwittingly behave in a very provocative manner which attracts bullying behaviour. The student with Attention Deficit Disorder (ADD) is particularly vulnerable as is the child with a physical disability!

Why does a child become a bully?

There is no one particular thing that turns a child into a bully. However, studies show that the problem is generally triggered by something at home in the youngster’s environment. This could include having parents who are overly punitive or verbally or physically abusive. A bully also could have been victimized himself, perhaps by a sibling or another child. It becomes very easy for a child to turn around and do to someone else what’s been done to him because he knows exactly how it feels. So, how do you discourage a child from becoming a bully? Here’s what to watch out for:

Take a look at your parenting practices. Are you a bully at home? Do you frequently criticize your child or demand unquestioning obedience at every turn? Do you use spanking as a punishment? If so, you’re sending the message to your child that anger, violence, and intimidation are ways to get what you want. Very likely, your child will turn around and use similar tactics on peers.


Watch your tone — and your message.
 It’s important for parents and caregivers to examine the tone of voice they use when speaking to children. Avoid undue criticism. Children learn by example, and someone who is belittled at home may resort to such tactics when dealing with peers.

Start to teach the art of negotiation early on. The preschool years are the time to begin to teach children to mediate their own disputes. If your toddler is wrestling a toy from the hands of a playmate, swoop in and offer an alternative. With toddlers, parents and caregivers need to watch and intervene when trouble arises. Then try to move things from “might makes right” to “let’s make a deal.”

Don’t be a “wimp.” Parents may also breed a bully by being overly permissive. By giving in when a child is obnoxious or demanding, they send the message that bullying pays off. Children actually feel more secure when they know parents will set limits.
If you do discover your child is acting like a tyrant, don’t panic. It’s important for parents to realize that all kids have the capacity to bully. Here’s what to do if it’s your child who’s doing the bullying:

Make it clear that bullying will not be tolerated. Although it’s important to determine why your child is behaving like a ruffian, emphasize that you won’t allow such actions, and outline the consequences. If the problem occurs at school, tell your child that you respect the school’s right to exact punishment if it persists.

Have your child walk in the victim’s shoes. Since bullies have trouble empathizing with their victims, it’s important to discuss how it feels to be bullied. How would your child feel if it happened to her?


Help your child feel successful. 
It’s important to emphasize your child’s good points, so he can start to experience how positive feedback (rather than negative attention) feels. Is she good with animals? A math whiz? Proficient at team sports? Then put her in situations where her strengths make her shine. Find opportunities for your child to help others, perhaps by volunteering or helping a teacher after school. Doing good increases a child’s sense of self-worth.

Where does Bullying Happen?

Bullying takes place in the schoolyard where there are hidden or obscured parts that provide an environment conducive to bullying. Many of the games which students play present possibilities for bullying because of the physical nature and the relative ease to single out and harass another student. The noise level can also mask much of what is going on.

Washrooms, locker areas, changing rooms and showers may be the scene of verbal, psychological and physical harassment. The behaviour of students in those areas needs careful monitoring.

Bullying may also take place in class. It may occur subtly through glances, looks and snickering but may take the more overt form of physical intimidation. It may also be exacerbated if a classroom atmosphere prevails whereby students are allowed to make derogatory comments about their classmates or other teachers. However, teachers need to be alert to the underlying reasons for such comments in case students are trying to disclose something which is disturbing them and thus needs further investigation.

Copyright Bullying Awareness Network 2019
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