Bullying is an aspect of a school system that is often neglected and not approached properly. Schools will come to consider more pressing concerns in administrative and academic work than to give focus on the issues of bullying. However, this shouldn’t be the case at all. Bullying can have long-term effects on students emotionally, mentally, and even at times, physically. Before anything else, the well-being of the student should be the main concern if we want to produce more well-rounded, compassionate, and capable adults in the future by confronting the issue head-on and from the very root of it.
Unfortunately, even when schools have rules against bullying, it can still go rampant. Bullying doesn’t have to be grand and obvious such as what people see in the movies. Sometimes simple teasing can escalate into full-on bullying if this is not addressed appropriately and immediately. Sometimes even false rumors circulating in the classroom can also be a form of bullying. Students who have experienced being bullied will come out of school two ways: they can grow to be tough in the end or they can be scarred and pained.
It is defined as an aggressive behavior by which someone intentionally and repeatedly harms and discomforts another person. With this being said, an act can be considered bullying if it is done on a consistent basis and there is intent to torment or inflict hurt (physical or otherwise) to another.
Bullying can come in through different scenarios and as such there are five kinds of bullying that are most seen or common.
As the term suggests, verbal bullying involves speech. Usually, verbal bullying has the intention of humiliation towards another or to plant terror to the victim. Verbal bullying can range from name-calling, insults, making threats, or making racist remarks. It should be noted that harshly spoken words can affect a child just as much as physical abuse can. This is because they are still growing and learning their identity and worth. When a bully attacks them verbally, their self-worth and confidence will take the brunt of it.
This type of bullying can also be hard to distinguish. Some bullies will claim they mean no harm for their remarks and insist it’s just for fun, while the bullied may also think it’s normal. Remarks that may seem harmless at first can grow into something bitter over time if not addressed immediately.
Physical bullying is more aggressive than any kind of bullying. This includes physically hurting their victim through kicking, tripping, hitting, and also causing havoc to their victim’s belongings. Usually, perpetrators of physical bullying go in groups to pick on their target. There can also be instances when a larger student picks on the smaller one.
This type of bullying can be easily spotted as there will likely be physical evidence to the bullying such as the previously stated destruction of the target’s personal properties, injuries done to the target, and so on. Physical bullying can result in major trauma for the child and may cause them to have a deep-seated fear that can result in them not wanting to go back to school.
We’ve mentioned bullying in the form of spreading rumors about the victim before and that falls under covert bullying. This is also one of the more common types of bullying in a school setting because it’s not directly done to the victim, but to their back. The victim’s reputation takes the brunt of this type of bullying.
Covert bullying has one goal and that is to humiliate the victim so the bullies have various ways to do that without making it obvious to the adults around them. It can range from spreading false rumors, making unkind jokes at the victim’s expense, doing faces, or mocking the victim when they aren’t looking with the intent of making the victim look laughable. Since this is done when the victim isn’t looking or behind their backs, adults also can’t easily detect this kind of bullying making it difficult to address.
As the term suggests, victims are made to feel like aliens in their environment. This type of bullying intends to make the victim feel like an outsider and usually happens when a group of conspirators (the bullies) precisely make them feel so. Isolation can be a very difficult thing to overcome and if there are people who aim to keep the student that way, they may even have a harder time creating friendships and growing in their environment. This type of bullying can be seen when the victim is deliberately being outcasted whether in school group projects, social gatherings or even during breaks.
In a modern world where almost every child has their own devices, cyber bullying is a new way to cultivate terror on an individual virtually. This type of bullying can be a combination of all of the mentioned types of bullying, however, the medium used relies upon the cyber world. This means victims can receive them through emails, chats, instant messages, etc. Some bullies would even make fake accounts to torment their victims.
This type of bullying is the one where the victim may feel helpless and the type that’s most likely inescapable. Something posted on the internet can never truly die. If the bully continues with the bullying, the victim may feel trapped in constant attacks and humiliation and may think their life is over.
First and foremost, the child should be given a safe space where they can speak out about the bullying done to them. It’s important for the parent to help their child feel that they are on their side. If the child is scared of speaking up about the incident in which they were bullied, read them a story of a similar situation or even relate a situation of your own to help them open up. This is so the child doesn’t feel alone and gain more courage to speak up about the situation.
When the child has finally opened up about the situation, it’s now time to give them some ways to deal with the bullies. Give them encouraging words and positive words about themselves. There may be instances wherein the bully’s words get to them and you as parents, should help them understand that they shouldn’t be listening to them. Teach them also how to be assertive in the face of bullies and to stand up for themselves. In other cases, bullies like getting reactions from their victims so avoiding them could also help with the situation. Advice the child to go in groups and avoid isolated palaces in school where bullies may linger. It’s also important to help the child understand that opening up to adults is alright and it will help their situation sooner. Let them understand as well that there is no shame in getting help.
It will be tempting to go to the school administration to report the incident. It would even be more tempting to go to the bully’s parents. However, it would be wise to properly document the incident before going to the authorities. Why is this important? It will not only help the case of the child but shreds of evidence will also support the claim and the parent will not fall on the trap of an argument “he said, she said”. There’s a certain reason courts need evidence to make judgments, otherwise, it’ll only be your word against others.
After documenting the incident, it’s also best to get the adults involved. However, do so with proper precaution. It can turn ugly for both parties if not done right. Naturally, as parents, they will take the side of their child as you will take yours. Confrontation is a tricky concept all to itself and especially more so if the parent is not in close relation with the bully’s parents. However, it also should be considered that confrontation can lead to the parents working together to come up with solutions to the problem.
If the bully’s parents aren’t open to working together, it’s time to get the school administration and their teachers involved. Since these incidents happened inside the school and under their watch, it should also be their concern. Parents can ask teachers and administrators to keep a better eye on the victim as well as the bully. This will give them a better position to catch the bullying if it happens again.
A confrontation between an adult and a child can even be messier. It will not help both parties and can even blow up the issue. As a parent, it’s understandable that you want to fight for your child but it’s not right to get involved especially if there’s intent from you to also bring terror to the bully. As such, you will also be inviting the bully’s parents for another confrontation instead of working together to resolve the issue.
There’s no reason to downplay the effects of bullying. Many schools have also taken the subject seriously and even implanting rules and regulations against bullying. They are also giving more awareness to the issue in the form of seminars and talks with experts. These initiatives are only the beginning to helping lesser chances of bullying incidents become more achievable.
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