Schools are considered students’ second home and are supposed to provide an environment that is healthy and safe. These days, however, with the continuously rising number of bullying incidents reported at various schools, many parents are getting apprehensive and worried about their children’s safety. Bullying has become a common scenario in schools, which is alarming not just for parents but to school staff and administrators as well. This is indeed a big problem that needs to be addressed and a fact that every parent needs to understand in order to protect their children.
Bullying and the Characteristics of Bullies
Bullying refers to treating a person abusively through repeated, unreasonable attacks. Both boys and girls have the tendency to turn into bullies, and their aggressive behaviors can have long-term effects on their victims, from emotional to health consequences; some even carrying the effects into adulthood. While some bullies are outgoing and aggressive, some may act reserved and modest, and may attack in subtle and deceptive ways. Bullies can physically harm their victims, publicly humiliate them, threaten them, or damage their properties and possessions.
There are many known causes of bullying. Two of the most common factors are social insecurity and jealousy. The bullies’ insecurity makes them rude and rebellious, causing them to harm others. Jealousy, on the other hand, makes them hurt and punish others for whatever it is that they are jealous about. For bullies, bullying makes them look and feel better, and more interesting than their victims. Bullying also makes them feel they are more popular and superior to their victims.
A person’s appearance and social status are also known factors that draw children to bully. Bullies tend to pick on a person who they think does not fit in the environment they are in, for instance, a person of different race, religion and sexual orientation, someone who is shy or withdrawn, or a person who simply looks different because of their skin and hair color, or their height.
Types of Bullying
Bullying can be done in four different ways.
Physical Attack. A physical attack, which is considered the most common form of bullying, is anything that involves physical contacts or actions. Examples include hitting, tripping, kicking, slapping, choking, and biting. Some of the signs that a person has been bullied physically include bruises, cuts, scratches, and broken bones.
Verbal Attack. Verbal attack is the use of negative words and remarks with the purpose of upsetting, degrading, and humiliating a person. Examples of verbal attacks include name calling, insulting, and giving out unkind jokes, negative remarks, and threats. Parents need to pay extra attention to their children’s behavior to confirm whether or not they have been bullied. Some of the signs include prolonged depression, refusal to go to school, and a drastic change in their performance at school.
Psychological Attack. Psychological attack refers to causing psychological harm to the victim, either through words or actions. Examples of this type of bullying include excluding a person from a group and making them feel isolated and ignored, and intimidating, stalking, and manipulating the victim. Children who have been bullied have low self-esteem and self-worth, and suffer from depression and anxiety. They become upset about going to school because they develop a perception about their school being a dangerous place.
Social Attack. Social attack can be done either through words or actions. Examples of social behaviors that are considered bullying include making fun of the way the victim speaks, how they look and what they wear; mocking any achievements that the victim has made; making fun of the victim’s culture, race or religion; gossiping; and humiliating their victim in front of other people. Signs include depression, low self-esteem, anxiety, and social isolation.
Cyberbullying. Cyberbullying is another type of bullying that is becoming common nowadays. Cyberbulling, which has emerged along with the onset of internet technology, refers to repeatedly sending out emails, posting on online forums, and sending text messages for the purpose of harassing, embarrassing, threatening, and harming a person.
Various research and studies have shown that a large percent of students, specifically those in elementary schools, report bullying incidents. These include a report from the Family and Work Institute that says roughly one-third of school children are being bullied each month. The National Crime Prevention Initiative, on the other hand, reported that about six out of 10 children witness bullying incidents each day. The rate is indeed disturbing, and school officials would need to exert extra effort to ensure every single student is safe and protected not just from bullies but from other types of school violence as well. Parents, on the other hand, would have to pay extra attention to their children and be wary of any changes in their behaviors and attitudes toward school.
Community-Oriented Policing Services, “Bullying in Schools, U.S. Department of Justice.
National Center Against Bullying, Five Kinds of Bullying.
“Why Do People Bully?” Buzzle.com.