As schools go back this month, there will have been children up and down this country with mixed emotions about the start of the new academic school year. There will have been the children who were excited, due to starting school for the first time, or to see their friends again after a long summer break, or even because the new school year means a new teacher, new uniform or new experiences ahead. Of course, there are some children who are fully immersed in the school environment and learning and have been longing for the day they can get up and go back to the classroom to see what they might learn in the coming weeks leading up to Christmas. There is also the group of children who have been suffering significantly at the hands of their summer caregivers and will simply be relieved to be returning to the classroom, if only for respite from the abuse they have suffered.
Children Not looking forward to September
Of course, there are other children who will not be looking forward to the school year, there are many reasons for this. Some children don’t feel that they are very academic and therefore feel like they tread water in the classroom rather than achieving, maybe because their strengths lie in more active hands-
The Most Famous School Starter
We thought however, that before we get into the serious business of exploring bullying, we would look at possibly the most famous school starter in this academic year. That child of course is Princess Charlotte, the second born of Prince William and Catherine. She is joining her brother at Thomas’s Battersea, which will cost £6,000 per term for Charlotte, less than that of her older brother Prince George as she is the second sibling attending the school.
We think it is fair to say that both children looked smart and rather cute in their school uniform on the first day of term, as I am sure all parents will be dreading later in the term when they no longer look that smart in the uniform. We wish both Prince George and Princess Charlotte well in their upcoming school year.
School Uniform Policy
One more story that we have been made aware of this last week is the story of a school that has been accused of over enforcing the school uniform policy. Several parents have informed The Chronicle Live that their children have been threatened with isolation for wearing shoes that include bows. Walbottle Campus in Newcastle has a dress code which states ‘shoes with bows or other extraneous adornments’ are prohibited. The secondary school has admitted that names of children have been taken who have fallen foul of the dress code and a text has been sent home to parents to ensure the children attend school in appropriate dress code shoes, ‘maintaining their high standards’.
What difference does a bow on a school shoe make in relation to the child’s learning? We would make the argument that it absolutely makes no difference, some parents have reported that shoes without the extraneous adornments are difficult to find. However, as the school has the policy it should be adhered to, to ensure that all children comply and are therefore not able to become a victim of bullying for having the wrong shoes or even shoes that are seen by some as being different.
So, let’s turn our attention to our main article subject for this month and that is the rather serious subject of bullying. We intend to consider what bullying is, the differing types of bullying, the signs and symptoms of bullying, how bullying can be tackled and the victim supported, as well as how it has changed over the years.
What is bullying?
According to the Oxford dictionary, bullying is:
The repeated use of threats or violence in an attempt to harm or intimidate others.
A bully will identify something in their victim that they can use against them in the first instance and then will use this to intensify their campaign against the victim further and occasionally bring others into their campaign.
The types of bullying:
- Verbal Bullying,
- Physical Bullying,
- Indirect Bullying,
Verbal bullying is when someone uses insulting or demeaning language in order to mock, degrade, embarrass or insult another person.
Verbal bullying involves name-
In many cases, verbal bullying is something which is usually meted out by girls. Although this is not always the case. It is true that girls are seen as being more subtle in their approach and, at times, can be even more devastating because of this subtlety. Girls also use social exclusion techniques to dominate others and to show their superiority and power. It is fair to say though that there are boys who also possess the skills and subtlety to invoke verbal bullying and the social exclusion techniques.
How does verbal bullying affect?
Verbal bullying can affect victims in a wide range of ways. It can:
- Lower self-
- Lower self-
- Cause depression,
- Cause anxiousness,
- Isolate the victim,
- Make them withdrawn,
- Make someone feel humiliated,
- Cause anger,
- Cause the victim to believe what is being said,
- Aggravate problems at home,
- Start substance abuse,
- Make a victim try suicide.
How to deal with verbal bullying
It is important that verbal bullying is dealt with. There are many ways that it can be dealt with, but it can be difficult for schoolteachers to spot as the bully can be very subtle in their delivery and therefore it can go missed and not stopped for longer than is necessary. Of course the victim will have the worry that should they report the bully for their treatment of them that the bullying may not stop and in actuality get worse.
To stop the verbal bullying the following things should be tried:
- Report the bullying to a trusted adult,
- Be assertive with the bully telling them to stop and that their name-
calling is boring and making them look silly,
- Ignore the bully and walk away.
These strategies can work very effectively, however they can be hard to action, in particular when it comes to ignoring what the bully is saying as it is always easier to hear a negative and see the negative thing that is being said to them, as opposed to looking into the positives of themselves. This is even harder to do having had the bully weaken their self-
Physical bullying is a serious issue for all concerned, this includes the bully, victim, others witnessing the episode and the adults involved in dealing with the aftermath.
There are a lot of negative physical interactions between children and young adults, which include:
- Practical jokes,
- Sexual harassment, and
However, these are not considered physical bullying unless the following occurs:
- The same victim is targeted repeatedly,
- The bully or bullies intend to hurt, humiliate, or embarrass the victim,
- The incident takes place when there is a real or perceived imbalance of power.
Physical bullying is in some cases worse than verbal bullying as it involves a level of physical harm being caused to the victim by the bully. Actions that constitute physical bullying include:
- Spitting at,
- Stealing, and/or
- Destroying possessions or work.
Physical bullying can also veer into sexual assault or sexual harassment.
In the reverse of verbal bullying, studies show that in the majority of cases males are the bully as opposed to girls, although some studies show that when a girl physically bullies another, the resulting injuries can be worse than in the male bully circumstance.
Physical bullying is most likely to occur at school, however it can occur on the way to or from school. There are many reasons why the bully picks on a particular individual, it may be so that they have power, or may be in order to fit in. Generally speaking, the bully will have friends who condone the behaviour that the bully is dishing out, and the bully is likely to be stronger and/or bigger than the singled out individual.
How can you identify physical bullying?
Signs of physical bullying include:
- Coming home from school with:
- Cuts, and/or
- Other unexplained injuries.
- Having damaged clothing, books, or possessions.
- Often ‘losing’ things that they take to school.
- Complaining of frequently not feeling well before school or school activities.
- Skipping certain classes.
- Wanting to avoid going to school or going to school a certain way, such as taking strange routes home from school or not wanting to ride the bus.
- Acting sad or depressed.
- Withdrawing from others.
- Saying they feel picked on.
- Displaying low self-
- Mood swings, including anger or sadness.
- Wanting to run away.
- Trying to take a weapon to school.
- Talking about suicide or violence against others.
It is important that a victim of physical bullying is reassured and told that they are not to blame, and what the bully is doing to them is wrong. It is important that the details of the bullying incidents are discovered including when, where, and who was involved; this will help build up the picture and, where serious assaults are concerned, the police can then take action. The victim should never be advised to fight back, the simplest way to deal with a bully in the short term is to avoid the bully, stay with friends or where there is an adult around supervising the activities taking place.
A bully should be spoken to and explained to that their behaviour is unwanted and not appropriate; they, like all children and young people, should be taught to respect others.
Indirect bullying is arguably one of the most damaging types of bullying. It is where one person or a group of people undermine or try to damage your reputation by spreading rumours and/or lies behind your back. This is a type of abuse that is prevalent in girls and is usually an indicator of more serious girl-
It is also one of the harder types of bullying to assist a victim with as it is all verbal and very difficult to prove.
The dangers of indirect bullying should be taking seriously, just because the victim doesn’t have any visible scars, the internal damage to the victim can be very detrimental to their continuing development. It is important at this stage to note that as children are growing up, particularly girls, they care about their reputation.
It is important also to remember that just because someone spreads a lie about you or says something nasty about you behind your back it is not always deemed bullying, and this is because bullying has 3 very important elements to it that defines an action as bullying and these 3 elements are:
- Bullying is repeated,
- Bullying is purposeful,
- There is an imbalance of power.
Examples of indirect bullying include:
- Gossiping about someone behind their back, just for the sake of it, to be mean.
- Purposefully not allowing someone to sit on your lunch table, or even participate in the group activities.
- Mocking or making fun of someone because of their:
- Religious beliefs,
- Sexual orientation,
economic status etc.
The effects of indirect bullying are closely aligned to verbal bullying, and these concerns should be taken very seriously and supported as much as is possible, bearing in mind that this particular type of bullying is all verbal and therefore very difficult to prove.
This is the type of bullying which has really developed over recent years with the advent of technology being used in the way that it is today. In our day at school, bullying would have taken place in the school playground, or on the way to and from school, whereas in this day and age bullying can now continue into the child’s own home and bedroom.
Cyberbullying is any type of bullying which takes place online or through smartphones, tablets and other internet connected devices.
In a recent national bullying survey:
- 56% of young people said they have seen others be bullied online, and
- 42% have felt unsafe online.
Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week and it can go viral very fast.
Types of Cyber Abuse:
This is the act of sending offensive, rude, or insulting messages as well as being abusive. It also includes posting nasty or humiliating comments on posts, photos and chat rooms as well as being explicitly abusive on gaming sites.
This is where someone sends information about another person that is fake, damaging and untrue. It includes sharing photographs of someone for the purpose of ridicule, spreading fake rumours and gossip. This can be on any social media or app, it has been known of people altering photographs of others and posting them in the interest of bullying.
This is where someone purposely uses really extreme and offensive language and gets into online arguments and fights. This is done in order to cause reactions and enjoy the fact it causes someone to get distressed.
This is where someone hacks into another person’s email or social networking account in order to use the person’s online identity to send or post vicious or embarrassing material to or about others. This also includes the making of fake profiles on social network sites, apps and online which can be really difficult to get them closed down.
Outing and Trickery
This is where someone may share personal information about another or trick someone into revealing secrets and forward it to others. They may also do this with private images and videos too.
Cyberstalking is the act of repeatedly sending messages that include:
- Threats of harm,
- Intimidation, and/or
- Engaging in other online activities that make a person afraid for his or her safety.
The actions may be illegal too depending on what they are doing.
This is where others intentionally leave someone out of a group for example group messages, online apps, gaming sites and other online engagement. This is also a form of social bullying and is very common.
Effects of Cyberbullying
The effects of cyberbullying include:
- Low self-
- Withdrawing from family and spending a lot of time alone.
- Reluctance to let parents or other family members anywhere near their mobiles, laptops etc.
- Finding excuses to stay away from school or work including school refusal.
- Friends disappearing or being excluded from social events.
- Losing weight or changing appearance to try and fit in.
- Fresh marks on the skin that could indicate self-
harm and dressing differently such as wearing long- sleeved clothes in the summer to hide any marks.
- A change in personality i.e. anger, depression, crying, withdrawn.
So, what can be done about cyberbullying? A lot of people believe that they are safe from being identified in the cyber world as a bully if they use a fake account, and/or name, however this is not the case. The company that hosts the website where the bully is uploading their comments, and other content, onto will keep logs which detail where uploads have been made from, whilst we as the general public are unable to access these, the police are certainly able to.
One way to deal with any comments that are being made to a victim would be to advise them to print out the comments and then hand them to a trusted adult, who can potentially contact the police if the comments are harassing in nature or threatening.
It is important that an adult who a cyberbullying victim turns to assists the victim in the best way they can. Bullying UK suggests that the following strategies are used:
- Reinforce that no one deserves to be treated in this way and that they have done nothing wrong.
- Ensure that they know that there is help available to them.
- Encourage them to talk to a teacher that they trust so they feel they have somewhere safe at school to go to.
- Encourage them to talk to their parents/carers and if this isn’t possible to write a letter or speak to another family member.
- Take screenshots of the cyberbullying so that they have proof this is happening.
- Report all abuse to the relevant social media networks by clicking on the “report abuse” button.
- Keep a diary so they have somewhere safe and private to write down their innermost thoughts and feelings which will help to avoid feelings bottling up.
- Give praise for being so brave and talking things through which will hopefully empower them to take responsibility and get help.
- Sending abuse by email or posting it into a web board can be harassment and if this has happened make a complaint to the police who can trace IP addresses etc.
- Ask the school if they have a School Liaison Police Officer that can help in this situation and talk to the school about the dangers and effects.
Bullying is wrong,
Bullies should be taught to respect others,
The victim has done nothing to justify being treated in this way.