What is bullying?
People of all ages can be cruel to one another when they are in a bad mood, but this in itself does not constitute bullying because it is usually a ‘one-off’. Bullying, on the other hand, is repeated relentlessly. It involves either physical intimidation or verbal abuse, or both, and thanks to modern technology it does not even need to be face-to-face – cyberbullying through chat-rooms, emails and mobile phones is becoming increasingly common. Psychological bullying involves gossiping about the target or starting a cruel rumour about them. Verbal bullying includes teasing and taunting the victim.
Who are the bullies and why do they do it?
Both boys and girls can be bullies. Boys will bully both boys and girls, whereas girls tend to bully girls rather than boys. Bullies are people who take pleasure in belittling and scaring others cruelly so that they can dominate them. The bullies are often not happy people, but may have suffered abuse themselves. They often have low self-esteem and can only raise their opinion of themselves by putting other people down. Unfortunately this is a very short-term policy and they end up, according to statistics, having less successful lives than some other people.
How do bullies choose a victim?
Certain types of people attract bullies: targets tend to be smaller than the bully, younger, shy, passive, easily dominated and not to have a large circle of friends. Bullies head for people who look like they don’t fit in.
What can you do if you are bullied?
The most obvious answer is to tell a responsible adult – a teacher, a counsellor, a coach, etc. It is worth remembering that adults may even be able to sort out the problem without the bully finding out how the situation was discovered. Apart from that, it is important to remember that bullying takes place in certain locations more than others (playgrounds, bathrooms, school buses, on the walk home, etc.), so avoid being alone in these places when possible. In fact, bullies are unlikely to pick on a person who is at the centre of a group of friends so, as far as possible, stay in a friendly group – there is safety in numbers! Also, it is worth plucking up courage to be assertive with a bully – assertive but not aggressive. It is vital not to fight back, however much you might want revenge. This is because the bully’s main aim is to wind you up. If you lose your temper, the bully has won because s/he has successfully wound you up. It is a much better idea to simply stand your ground, put your foot down and insist, calmly and clearly, that the bully leave you alone. You can even practise what to say beforehand so that it sounds right, and having said your piece, walk away. Such simple behaviour (along with ignoring taunts, etc) can eventually stop bullies because they are just not getting the reaction they want from you. Remember, bullies bully more than one victim. If you speak out against a bully, many other people will support you, either because they simply think you are right or because they too have been bullied.
Quick Quiz: Read the clues below and write the solutions on a piece of paper. Then take the first letter of each answer and rearrange them to find the hidden word connected with this Talking Point.
1. __________ through chat-rooms, emails and mobile phones is becoming increasingly common.
2. Boys will bully both boys and girls, whereas girls tend to bully girls __________ than boys.
3. It is important to remember that bullying takes place in certain __________ more than others.
4. Bullies are __________ to pick on a person who is at the centre of a group of friends.
5. If you speak out against a bully, many other people will support you, __________ because they simply think you are right or because they too have been bullied.