Bullying recently has been a massive part of what schools have focused on in the last few years. Lately, there has been a controversy about what bullying is. Children are friends with other children and are teasing one another. Adults have said that teasing others is bullying, and others say if they are teasing each other back and forth, it is not. Before you read on, I want you to think about when you were in school and if you were teasing other children in your classroom (maybe it was some cute girl/guy you liked). I want you to now think about what the bullying policy when you were in school, was there one?
What is bullying?
The National Centre Against Bullying states, bullying is when a person or a group of people, intentionally and repeatedly harms or hurts another person who feels helpless to defend themselves. Bullying can occur over an extended amount of time and is generally hidden from adults. Bullying is a broad definition and could mean a variety of things. So I am sure you are still wondering what bullying is?
There are four different forms of when bullying can occur:
- Physical bullying: This included kicking, tripping, hitting, pushing, or damaging personal property you own.
- Verbal bullying: name-calling, insulting, forms of teasing, homophobic, racial slurs, verbal abuse, and intimidation. It is easy to say harmless teasing remarks on and off for a while, but it can quickly escalate to bullying behaviors.
- Social bullying: is not easy to prove since it is happening behind the person’s back. The bully might not even talk to the person they are bullying. Examples being spreading rumors and lying about someone to ruin their reputation. Additionally, mimicking, excluding and encouraging others not to be friends/ include them, playing mean jokes, humiliating
- Cyberbullying: this has been a rising concern with social media becoming popular with younger aged children. Cyberbullying is utilizing technology (computers, phones, texting, and any form of social media) to do public or private bullying. It could be used with help spread mean rumors, sending nasty emails, pictures, videos, and messages. It is similar to social bullying and verbal bullying, but all online.
What bullying is not?
We have discussed what bullying is. You might be thinking, oh my goodness, my child is being bullied. Before you call the school, I encourage you to sit down with your child and listen to what is happening. Find out if it is a recurring activity, and if they usually are friends. It might even be worth contacting the school and speaking with the teacher to see what behaviors they are seeing. Children get into a disagreement with their friends in school. If you do not know the full story, the conflict could be seen as bullying.
What bullying is not:
- one time situation where a student is not liked or said could not be included
- one time situation of mean words or act of unkindness out of spite
- random acts of aggression where they are not being sought out to be bullied
- mutual arguments, disagreements or fights
- teasing back and forth where one could not determine when another person is kidding anymore, or they are serious
Bullying and Side Effects
When children are being bullied at school, there can be severe side effects. Side effects can affect your child’s learning, emotional state, and or physical state.
Imagine you were being made fun of day after day, and you no longer have any friends because of rumors being spread about you. I know that I would not want to go to school if this was my day. Bullying can create a school phobia where your child does not want to go to school.
Another huge factor that affects your child long-term is their self-confidence. A person is mean to you, and you might not know why this is happening to you. Over time you begin to dislike yourself because other people do not like me and do not want to be my friend. It can feel like you are alone. If one’s self-confidence is low, then how do you expect someone to succeed in a learning environment. Your child is going to focus on the person who is bullying them, instead of the math lesson.
Bullying in the Workplace
Bullying is known to happen to children who are school; however, it can happen to young adults, and older adults in the work field as well. It is essential to recognize if this is happening to you and not having a desire to go to or your older child not wanting to go to work. Most places of employment have policies against workplace bullies even though it is not discussed often or has posters around the office as school buildings do. Talk with your human resources department or a supervisor to further discuss this factor. Being bullied as an adult can affect your mental health.
Bullying is a serious matter that would need to be addressed if it is a concern. Calling your child’s school and talking with the administration and their teacher. Bullying usually does not stop unless it is addressed at school.
Contact Perspectives Therapy Services to find someone for your child to talk to about the bullying they might have experienced and help boost their confidence.
Perspectives Therapy Services is a multi-site mental and relationship health practice with clinic locations in Brighton, Lansing, Highland, Fenton and New Hudson, Michigan. Our clinical teams include experienced, compassionate and creative therapists with backgrounds in psychology, marriage and family therapy, professional counseling, and social work. Our practice prides itself on providing extraordinary care. We offer a customized matching process to prospective clients whereby an intake specialist carefully assesses which of our providers would be the very best fit for the incoming client. We treat a wide range of concerns that impact a person's mental health including depression, anxiety, relationship problems, grief, low self-worth, life transitions, and childhood and adolescent difficulties.