This week, 13 - 19 November, is Anti Bullying Week. Bullying is a pervasive and harmful behaviour that involves the repeated and intentional use of power to intimidate, harm, or control others. It can take various forms, including physical, verbal, relational, and cyberbullying.
Types of Bullying:
Physical Bullying: Involves physical aggression, such as hitting, kicking, or other forms of physical harm.
Verbal Bullying: Involves the use of words to hurt, humiliate, or harass the target.
Relational Bullying: Involves damaging someone's social standing or relationships, such as spreading rumours or excluding individuals from social groups.
Cyberbullying: Occurs through electronic means, such as social media, messaging apps, or online forums. It can include spreading rumours, sharing embarrassing information, or engaging in online harassment.
Impact on Victims:
Bullying can have severe consequences for the mental, emotional, and physical well-being of the victim.
It may lead to anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, and in some cases, even suicidal thoughts or actions.
Victims of bullying often experience difficulties in school, relationships, and their overall quality of life.
Roles in Bullying:
Bullies: Individuals who engage in bullying behaviour, often to assert power or control.
Victims: Those who are targeted by bullies and experience the negative effects of the behaviour.
Bystanders: People who witness bullying but do not directly participate. Bystanders can play a crucial role in either reinforcing or preventing bullying by choosing to intervene or report the behaviour.
Prevention and Intervention:
School Programs: Many schools implement anti-bullying programs to create a safer environment and educate students about the consequences of bullying.
Community Involvement: Communities and parents can contribute to preventing bullying by fostering a culture of respect and empathy.
Online Safety Education: Given the rise of cyberbullying, educating individuals about responsible online behaviour is crucial.
In some cases, bullying can lead to legal consequences for the perpetrators, especially if the behaviour involves harassment, assault, or other criminal activities.
Many of us may associate bullying as something that happens in school the majority of the time and while it is true that in 2016 some 12,000+ counselling sessions took place in 2016 because of bullying (NSPCC report) bullying can take place anywhere. I’ve experienced my fair share of bullying in the workplace, and online. It doesn’t matter how old or young you are, you can still experience bullying and the effects can be just as damaging.
As adults we tend to have a higher resilience or ability to develop it which means that there is perhaps a greater chance for the bullying not to affect a person quite as much as it would a young person - but there are no hard and fast rules. There are shocking statistics that demonstrate the effect bullying can have and in more recent years people have been so affected by bullying that they took their own life.
Some bullies will defend their actions as being “their right” to voice their opinion. Some will say that others need to stop being so sensitive and there is some truth to both these statements. However, when it is clear that the actions (be they words or physical) are negatively affecting a person then continuing to do these actions is bullying.
At the moment in the UK there is no law to prevent cyberbullying. However, the act of cyberbullying could mean they perpetrator is committing a crime under a number of different acts including (but not limited to) Protection From Harassment Act 1987, Malicious Communications Act 1988, and the Communications Act 2003. Cyberbullying can happen 24/7/365…it can happen at any time and there’s no escape from it - unless you do away with all technology.
The advent of “social” media has meant that people can now become a keyboard warrior and voice their opinions, no matter how controversial or inflammatory, and they can do it anonymously. In addition to this, the are writing things that they would probably not say to a person’s face. Oftentimes they will not accept responsibility for their behaviour. They will see their actions as an enactment of their freedom of speech. Free speech yes. But hateful speech is big no!
I do not condone bullying of any kind and whilst it may be true that very often the bully won’t see that they are doing anything wrong I do feel that as well as supporting the victims of bullying, we need to try and help the bullies. There may be reason why they behave the way they do and maybe, just maybe, they actually need the help. Ultimately we are all responsible for our own choices.
A big issue I believe is that if someone is different to them a person struggles. Rather than just accept we’re all different and that we all have our idiosyncrasies some believe that being different is wrong. Just because someone dresses in a way you don’t like (or approve of) doesn’t mean they deserve to be called names or have comments made about them, or worse get physically abused because of it.
The world has certainly changed a lot in my life time and it continues to do so. This is not a bad thing. The trouble is people cling on to the past and often woefully cite how great things were back in their day. Sadly though this often means that their attitudes have remained the same as they were and they don’t make the effort to learn or understand. Of course, this is not always the case and there are those who go out of their way to learn and understand…but sadly it’s not 100% of people. You don’t have to agree with everything or everyone, or anything or anyone…but you can still respect a person whether you agree with them or not, without resorting to bullying.
It's important for everyone to work together to create a culture that rejects bullying and promotes kindness, empathy, and respect. If you or someone you know is experiencing bullying, it's essential to seek help from trusted adults, teachers, or professionals who can provide support and intervention.