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What is bullying?
At first, it might appear that this behavior is easy to define. A common image of bullying would be a physically intimidating peer beating up a smaller classmate. While that is still considered bullying, it's important to know that bullying behaviors can be much more complex and varied than historical stereotypes.
As a starting point, there are elements that are included in most definitions of bullying. Although definitions vary from source to source, most agree that an act is defined as bullying when:
- The behavior hurts, humiliates, or harms another person physically or emotionally.
- Those targeted by the behavior have difficulty stopping the action directed at them, and struggle to defend themselves.
- There is also a real or perceived “imbalance of power,” which is described as when the student with the bullying behavior has more “power,” either physically, socially, or emotionally. Usually they have higher social status, and are physically larger or emotionally intimidating.
- Bullying comes in many different forms. A person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker are known as a bully. There are 4 different types of bullying:
- Physical Bullying involves hurting a person's body or belongings. This includes hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, and making mean/rude gestures.
- Verbal Bullying is saying or writing mean things that include teasing, name calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, and threatening to cause harm.
- Social Bullying involves hurting someone's reputation or relationship. Leaving someone out on purpose, telling others to befriend someone just because, spreading rumors, and embarrassing someone are also forms of social bullying.
- Cyber Bullying is the use of electronic communication to bully a person, typically by sending messages of an intimidating or threatening. This includes attacking one another on social media, creating fake accounts to bully/harass their peers, leaving hurtful/rude comments, and provocative insults or racial/sexual/ethnical slurs.
Impact on Students who are Bullied
Students who are bullied are more likely to:
- feel disconnected from school and not like school
- have lower academic outcomes, including lower attendance and completion rates
- lack quality friendships at school
- display high levels of emotion that indicate vulnerability and low levels of resilience
- be less well accepted by peers, avoid conflict and be socially withdrawn
- have low self-esteem
- have depression, anxiety, feelings of loneliness and isolation
- have nightmares
- feel wary or suspicious of others
- have an increased risk of depression and substance abuse
- in extreme cases, have a higher risk of suicide, however, the reasons why a person may be at risk of suicide are extremely complicated
Impact on Bullies
Students who bully others are more likely to:
- have psychological distress
- abuse alcohol and drugs
- drop out of school
- join a gang
- carry a weapon
- develop antisocial personality disorder
- have trouble with long term relationships with children/spouse due to previous history of violence
Recent Bullying Research has shown...
- Every 7 minutes someone is bullied
- 160,000 students miss school every day due to bullying
- Suicide is the 3rd leading cause of death among young people and at least half are due to bullying
- 1 out of 7 students are either a bully or victim of bullying
- 1 out of 10 students drop out of school due to repeated bullying
- 75% of school shooting have been linked to harassment and bullying
Who can I go to for help?
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