Bullying IS NEVER OK!

If you read our latest blog you will have read how anxiety can affect and influence our lives, particularly in children.

A factor in anxiety can be bullying.  Most of us feel we have an understanding of bullying, however, is our picture of the problem complete?  We can feel we understand and can identify bullying behaviour but can we?

Bullies come in all shapes and sizes.  Don’t assume that all bullies are loners or of low self-esteem.  Every bully has a different style and will use different tactics to intimidate and control the target.  Researchers have been studying bullying for years and have discovered there is much more to bullying than meets the eye.  Once believed that bullying consisted of physical bullying and name-calling has now evolved into several types of bullying.  Within the six types of bullying, everything from exclusion and gossip to attacking someone’s race or religion is included.

6 Primary Types of Bullying

Physical Bullying being the most obvious and easiest to identify.  Punching, slapping, kicking, hitting etc

Verbal Bullying where the bully uses words, statements and name-calling to overpower their target.  Constant insults are used to belittle, demean and hurt.  It is common for children with special needs to be targeted.  It is difficult to identify verbal bullying as most occasions are almost always carried out when adults are absent.  This leads to one’s word against another.  Some adults believe that things children say don’t cause impact and may tell the victim to ignore it.  Verbal bullying should be taken seriously as research has shown that it can leave deep emotional scars and have serious consequences.

Relational Aggression often goes unnoticed by adults, parents and teachers as it is a sly and insidious type of bullying.  Also referred to as emotional bullying, it is a type of social manipulation, mainly occurring in the teen years, where bullies attempt to hurt their peers or sabotage their social standing.  They will ostracise their target from groups, spread rumours and break confidences to increase their own social standing.  Generally, girls tend to use this form of bullying more than boys.  Although most common in the teenage years, relational aggression bullying also occurs in later life and in the workplace.

Cyberbullying can occur whenever the Internet, a smartphone or other technology is used to harass, threaten, target or embarrass young people.  Cyber-harassment or Cyberstalking is the term used if this type of bullying is perpetrated by an adult.  Cyberbullying is an increasing issue among young people as they are ‘plugged in’ more often than not and the bully believes there is much less chance of them being caught.  Technology gives them a feeling of anonymity and detachment, which often results in them saying things they would not say face to face.  A target of cyberbullying feels it is invasive and relentless.  They feel they are vulnerable at any time or anywhere even in the safety of their own home.  This can result in significant consequences.

Sexual Bullying consists of repeated harmful and humiliating actions that target a person sexually.  Sexual name-calling, crude remarks, vulgar gestures, uninvited touching, sexual propositions and pornographic materials.  In extreme cases, sexual bullying can open the door to sexual assault.

Prejudicial Bullying is based on prejudices bullies have towards people of different religions, race or sexual orientation.  Prejudicial Bullying can encompass all of the other types of bullying.  When this bullying occurs, the bully is often targeting others who are different from them and single them out.  This type of bullying can be severe and has the propensity to open the door to hate crimes.

Bullying can happen at any age and anyone can become a victim of bullying.  Boys and girls tend to bully differently.

Bullying targets often don’t report it as they often feel embarrassed, confused or think they can handle it on their own, however, bullying can have significant consequences.  Many victims feel alone and isolated and if left unaddressed many other issues may arise including depression, eating disorders and anxiety.  It is important for parents and teachers to deal with a bullying situation swiftly and effectively.

See the Signs

A victim of bullying may:

  • Have trouble sleeping
  • Loss of appetite
  • Have trouble concentrating
  • Find it hard to cope
  • Feel down about themselves
  • Feel physically ill
  • Have a feeling of hopelessness
  • Feel alone, angry, sad, unsafe and afraid

If you think you, your child or someone you know is being bullied, it is important to address it swiftly.  In the case of children, start by listening and empathising.  Bullying at school should be reported, but ensure the target is on board with that decision.  The key is to empower the target as bullying makes a child feel powerless.  Restoring a sense of power and self confidence will help in healing bullying effects.  Cyberbullying and assault should be reported to the appropriate authority.  If you’re a young person being bullied, talk to an adult you trust.

Some resources that may be beneficial include:

https://kidshelpline.com.au/

https://bullyingnoway.gov.au/YourRole/ForTeens/Pages/Im-being-bullied.aspx

https://thebullyproject.com.au/learn/resources/

https://www.education.gov.au/aus-student-wellbeing-framework

https://www.fairwork.gov.au/employee-entitlements/bullying-and-harassment

https://www.safeworkaustralia.gov.au/bullying

You can also access more information from your state or territory health department at https://www.health.gov.au/about-us/contact-us/local-state-and-territory-health-departments

References:

https://www.verywellfamilycom

https://kidshelpline.com.au

https://www.education.gov.au/