Bullying ©

The Oxford dictionary describes a bully as, A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker.


Bullying is repeated aggression, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against others. Bullying is defined as unwanted negative behaviour, verbal, psychological or physical conducted by an individual or group against another person (or persons) and which is repeated over time.


Types of Bullying


Cyber Bullying

This is a new strain of bullying which has emerged amongst children which utilises web pages, e-mails, and text messages. They are all used to intimidate, abuse and attack others either directly or indirectly by excluding, rumour mongering, criticising, falsely accusing, etc. Studies have shown that bullying is more prevalent now than it has ever been and due to swiftly evolving modern technology it has become more sophisticated and sinister. It is most unfortunate that many parents are unaware of the methodologies used in cyberbullying and therefore the punishing aftermath. In fact, some parents are unaware of its existence.


Exclusion Bullying

This style of bullying is particularly hurtful as it isolates the person from his/her peer group and it is extremely difficult for a child to counteract as it directly attacks their self-confidence, and image.


Extortion Bullying

Extortion bullying includes demands for possessions, finance, lunch money or food. This type of bullying is frequently accompanied by threats.


Physical Bullying

This type of bullying can often be misunderstood and thereby dismissed as horseplay, or that the bully is just pretending or playing a game. It is most important to be aware that these so-called games could be a precursor to future physical assaults and that boys and girls partake in physical bullying. Boys physical bully more than girls as they have a greater tendency towards physical aggression.


Verbal Bullying

Verbal attacks can be of a highly personal and sexual nature. This type of bullying can leave children feeling angry, frightened, and powerless. The bullying may be directed towards a child’s family, creed, race, colour or religion. When a child is unable to share their feelings with someone else it can leave them emotionally exhausted. Malicious rumours can be an indirect form of bullying. When this occurs, a child’s power of concentration will suffer and in turn will affects their ability to learn.   


Why do people bully?

While people can have a natural aggressive constitution, it is recognised that factors within the home, school or wider society influence the development of aggressive behaviour. If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, then there is the danger it can become habitual. Research indicates that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood.


Bullies search for any reason to taunt and ridicule their peers, where bullying puts the aggressor in a position of power and dominance while relegating the bullied person to a position of submission. When people get bullied, it is possible to turn the tables on bullies but this often requires adult intervention.


The reason why people get bullied stems from their socioeconomic standing, their behaviour, religious background, a speech impediment, their sexual orientation, race, ethnicity, physical appearance, mannerisms, their academic performance and disabilities or quite simply because they are independent thinkers.


The vast majority of bullying happens to schoolchildren within the school setting; however, it can also occur outside school. It is imperative that parents and teachers recognise the reasons for which children become targets for bullies.


The effects of bullying include:

  • A desire for revenge

  • A feeling of being trapped

  • A feeling of being undesirable

  • A fear of going into buildings

  • A lack of control

  • Aggressive behaviour

  • Alcohol, drug, substance abuse

  • Anxiety about going to school

  • Attempted suicide

  • Avoiding group situations

  • Bitterness

  • Bowel problems

  • Comfort eating

  • Conflict avoidance

  • Depression

  • Deterioration in school work

  • Disconnected from school

  • Exhaustion

  • Feeling like an outcast 

  • Feelings of isolation

  • Feelings of loneliness

  • Frequent crying

  • Greater incidence of illness

  • Helplessness

  • Humiliation

  • Inability to focus

  • Incompetence

  • Insecurity

  • Irrational thinking

  • Lashing out 

  • Loss of confidence

  • Lack of appetite

  • Lack of energy

  • Lack of motivation

  • Lack of quality friendships at school

  • Loss of interest in activities once enjoyed

  • Low levels of resilience

  • Low self-esteem

  • Lower academic outcomes

  • Mood swings

  • Nightmares

  • Panic attacks

  • Reduction in concentration

  • Sadness

  • Self-loathing

  • Shyness

  • Sleeping problems

  • Social withdrawal

  • Stomach problems

  • Stress

  • Suspicion of others

  • Vulnerability

  • Wanting to be left alone


Therapy for victims of bullying

If you are feeling any of the above, remember that you are not alone and that it is not your fault. Help is always available. Find someone you can trust and who will listen to you. You need a supportive and safe environment to address your feelings in counselling or therapy. A trained therapist will help you to better understand how this bullying is/has impacted on your life. The therapist will teach you the correct coping skills to move forward. These include boundary-setting and assertive communication.


Therapy for bullies

Although bullies may be reluctant to acknowledge their bullying, they equally benefit from therapy. This is a confidential environment where they learn to understand the impact their hurtful behaviour has had on their victim. It is a safe place for them to explore the reasons for their bullying. The therapist can teach them skills that will enable them to communicate positively with others and to address their personal experiences that may have contributed to their behaviour. Here they can resolve personal issues and wounds that may have contributed to their bullying. Addressing these wounds and identifying social issues will assist them in stopping their bullying.

 

Gene Barry Psychotherapist

© Gene Barry