Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.
Bullying can involve verbal attacks (name-calling and making fun of others) as well as physical ones, threats of harm, other forms of intimidation, and deliberate exclusion from activities. Studies indicate that bullying peaks around ages 11 to 13 and decreases as children grow older. Overt physical aggression such as kicking, hitting, and shoving is most common among younger children; relational aggression—damaging or manipulating the relationships of others, such as spreading rumors, and social exclusion—is more common as children mature.
Types of bullying
There are at least five types of bullying.
- Physical bullying can involve hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, or otherwise attacking others.
- Verbal bullying refers to the use of words to harm others with name-calling, insults, making sexual or bigoted comments, harsh teasing, taunting, mimicking, or verbal threats.
- Relational bullying focuses on excluding someone from a peer group, usually through verbal threats, spreading rumors, and other forms of intimidation.
- Reactive bullying involves the bully responding to being a former victim by picking on others.
- Bullying can also involve assault on a person’s property, when the victim has his or her personal property taken or damaged
What You Can Do
1. Beware of cyberbullying
Cyberbullying among preteens and teens has increased dramatically in recent years as young people spend more time socializing online. Cyberbullying includes sending hurtful or threatening e-mails or instant messages, spreading rumors or posting embarrassing photos of others.
Young people who are victims of cyberbullying are more likely to report social problems and interpersonal victimization. Being victimized also increases their chances of harassing peers online themselves. The Second Youth Internet Safety Survey research in the US revealed that 68 percent of cyberbullying victims spoke up about their harassment to friends, parents or other authority figures.
That disclosure provides an opportunity for parents and others to ask whether the child is struggling socially or experiencing communication problems with peers. They can then work with the child to find ways to prevent future incidents.
2. Stop office bullying
Bullying in the workplace can lead to increased absenteeism, employee turnover, even lawsuits. Here’s how employers can reduce aggressive behavior among employees:
- Foster improved communication skills.
- Teach employees to understand each other.
- Identify root causes.
- Establish a policy of respect.
3. What Parents, Teachers Can Do to Stop Bullying
Parents and teachers MUST intervene when they see bullying take place. First, they must tell the student(s) who are doing the bullying to stop. They need to document what they saw and keep records of the bullying behaviors. Victims need to feel that they have a support network of kids and adults. Help the student who is being bullied feel connected to school and home. Students who are also being bullied might benefit from individual or group therapy in order to create a place where they can express their feelings openly.
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