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Bullying – Definition

Bullying – Definition

Bullying, whether in school, social groupings, at home or in the workplace is one of the most important social issue that is destroying our children (and as adults) that we are facing right now. Every child has the right to go to school and get an education, no matter what size, shape, color, race, disability or financial background they come from. Any child who mistreats another child based on their appearance, ethnic origins, sexual orientation or any other reason is a bully. It does not matter if the bullying happens just once or is occurring regularly, it should be dealt with. No child should ever be made to feel that school is a place where they will be degraded, demoralized, singled out, hounded, discriminated against or taken advantage of in a vulnerable situation. Children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood. They have a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment and criminal behaviour later in life. Bullying is painful and humiliating, and kids who are bullied feel embarrassed, battered and shamed. If the pain is not relieved, bullying can even lead to consideration of suicide or violent behaviour. In order to stop this act of terrorism, we must look at awareness as an important first step in helping parents, students, teachers and communities at large to learn more about how to recognize a bully and children who are bullied and to take steps to stop the bullying. Bullying is wrong and everyone needs to get involved to help stop it.

Most people have been a target of bullying at some point in their lives. They may have also been the person who was doing the bullying or has seen someone being bullied. It’s hurtful and harmful and is not a normal part of growing up.  Bullying is a learned behaviour and a form of abuse and as with other interpersonal violence, such as dating violence, racial harassment, child abuse, and wife assault, is based on a power imbalance between the bully and their victim(s). It is seen as repeated and systematic harassment acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group abusing those who are less powerful. It is behaviour that makes the person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable. Bullying is the intimidation or mistreatment of a person who is weaker than the bully or in a more vulnerable situation. It is also seen as a conscious, wilful, deliberate and repeated hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm, and/or a threat of aggression.

Many people have a good idea of what bullying is because they see it every day.  Bullying happens when someone hurts or scares another person on purpose with the person being bullied having a hard time defending themselves. Through their own actions and the inaction of others, bullies learn that antisocial behaviour and exerting control over others is an acceptable activity and that it works, therefore society as a whole is also impacted by bullying.

Bullying can happen at many different locations and environments:

  • School
  • Home
  • Camp
  • Social occasions / destinations, holidays
  • Work
  • Internet

When bullying goes from bad to worse, it may lead to a feeling of terror on the part of the person being bullied. Bullying is persistent unwelcome behaviour through the assertion of power through aggression. Its forms change with age: school playground bullying, sexual harassment, gang attacks, date violence, assault, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment, elder abuse and murder. Bullying is a form of abuse and bullies, whether as students or unenlightened employers often go to great lengths to keep their targets quiet, using threats of disciplinary action, dismissal, and gagging clauses.

All people have the potential to bully and anyone can experience childhood bullying

Bullying is a behaviour that is often considered to be a part of the culture of growing up and attending school

Bullying is unreasonable behaviour, both obvious and hidden, that intimidates, humiliates or causes harm to an individual or group in and out of the school environment

Often the behaviour described seems trivial until it becomes apparent that the repeated pattern of the behaviour undermines an individual’s confidence, self-esteem and health

For children in school; approximately one in 10 children have bullied others and as many as 25% of children in grades four to six have been bullied. A 2004 study published in the medical Journal of Paediatrics found that about one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. Studies have found bullying occurs once every seven minutes on the playground and once every 25 minutes in the classroom. In the majority of cases, bullying stops within 10 seconds when peers intervene, or do not support the bullying behaviour.


Types of Bullying

Bullying and harassment are methods of misusing power to degrade, humiliate and hurt someone; with the power imbalance being social and/or physical. There are many ways that people bully each other, even if they don’t realize it at the time. Bullying can be perpetrated by individuals and/or groups; can take many forms and can include may different behaviours.

When someone kicks or punches us it hurts us on the outside, while when someone teases us or calls us names, it hurts us on the inside. In many classrooms teasing and name-calling are the most common forms of bullying. Unfortunately, because they don’t leave scratches or bruises and often happen when there are no adults around, they can be the most damaging while going unnoticed by their parents or teachers.


Cyber Bullying:

Cyber Bullying is bullying that takes place on the internet or with cell phones. The cyber-bully may send the victim threatening emails, take pictures or video of them and post them on-line (Facebook or any other internet chat room) or say mean things about the victim in a chat-room. Kids who bully on-line will often be much meaner than they would be face-to-face because they can’t see the victim. Unfortunately this ability to “hide” from the victim has meant that many people, who would never bully someone in person, have started bullying on-line. Using the Internet to send unwanted messages to someone mock them or ruin their reputation. While all forms of bullying are very hurtful and embarrassing for the victim, cyber-bullying can be especially painful because of how many people may see the photos, videos, name-calling or teasing. Once something is put on a website or in a chat-room it becomes public. This means that anyone can see it anywhere in the world. It includes behaviours such as:

  • Damage reputations and friendships
  • Embarrass
  • Harass
  • Internet harassment, intimidation
  • Put-downs
  • Socially excluding
  • Spread rumours or make fun of someone
  • Threaten


Disability Bullying:

Includes behaviours such as:

  • Leaving someone out or treating them badly because of a disability
  • Making comments or jokes to hurt someone with a disability
  • Making someone feel uncomfortable because of a disability


Racial (or Religious) Bullying:

Includes behaviours such as:

  • Calling someone names (racist) or telling jokes based on his or her religious beliefs
  • Saying bad things about a cultural background and/or religious background or belief
  • Telling racist jokes
  • Treating people badly because of their racial or ethnic background
  • Treating people badly because of their religious background or beliefs


Physical Bullying:

  • Physical bullying is where the bully hurts you using his or her physical actions. Being physically bullied is incredibly scary for a victim and puts them at great risk. Many children have been seriously injured by physical bullying. Physical bullying can lead to just a scratch or bruise, to being in critical condition in a hospital, or even worse it can lead to death. Some examples are:
  • Chasing, coercing
  • Destroying or stealing belongings
  • Extortion
  • Locking in a confined space
  • Physical violence
  • Slapping, hitting, pinching, punching, kicking, poking, attacks, shoving
  • Unwelcome touching, unwanted sexual touching


Sexual Bullying:

Includes behaviours such as:

  • Calling someone gay, a fag, a lesbian, or other names that offends someone’s sexuality.
  • Leaving someone out or treating them badly because they are a boy or a girl
  • Making crude comments about someone’s sexual behaviour
  • Making sexist comments or jokes touching
  • Making someone feel uncomfortable because of their sex
  • Pinching or grabbing someone in a sexual way
  • Sexual harassment
  • Spreading a sexual rumour about someone


Social Bullying:

Also known as relationship bullying; Social bullying is where a group of people bullies a single person or a smaller group of people by being shunned or excluded from groups and events. Other examples of social bullying are:

  • Blackmail
  • Excluding from a group – When we exclude someone we make them feel unlikable and very alone
  • Extortion or stealing of money and possessions
  • Harassment and intimidation
  • Humiliating others with public gestures or graffiti intended to put others down
  • Malicious telephone calls
  • Mobbing
  • Racially or ethnically-based verbal abuse and gender-based put-downs
  • ‘Scapegoating’
  • Spreading false rumours
  • Stalking
  • Starting nasty rumours about someone or not letting them hang out with you and your friends
  • Threatening or insulting graffiti
  • Threatening notes, letters, emails, telephone calls
  • Threatening words, actions or weapons

Verbal Bullying:

  • Verbal bullying is probably the most used because it’s one of the easiest things to do without getting caught. “Sticks and stones can hurt my bones but words can never hurt me” is a lie to all our past beliefs during school. Being called names is a very hurtful abuse that we have do deal with as children. It is one of the things that can put you down the most. It can leave you wondering, self-conscious, and wanting to change the way you look, or act, or what you wear. Verbal bullying is probably one of the most painful things to have to deal with. Some examples are:
  • Name-calling, put-downs, insulting, teasing, laughing at someone
  • Racist, making negative references to one’s culture, ethnicity, race, religion
  • Sexual orientation, unwanted sexual comments, homophobic comments, gender
  • Spreading rumours, gossiping
  • Taunting, verbal taunts
  • Unwelcome teasing, sarcasm


Threats and intimidation - Being threatened is very scary and hurtful. The victims are always afraid the person is going to carry out their threats, but they often don’t know when or where this may happen. They start each day worrying they are going to come to school and find everyone talking about them or they are going to get beat up

Workplace Bullying:

  • Is unreasonable behaviour, both obvious and hidden, that intimidates, humiliates or causes harm to an individual or group within a workplace. It also is a deliberate, hurtful, repeated mistreatment of an employee, driven by a desire to control that individual. Some examples are:
  • Behind-the-back put-downs, insults, and unfair criticism
  • Deliberate sabotage and undermining of another’s work performance
  • Hostile glares and other intimidating gestures
  • Ongoing and regular demeaning comments on your work ability
  • Taking credit away from you for all your, taking credit for your work
  • That you are not good enough for your position
  • Trying to make you feel like all your work is ‘garbage’
  • Yelling, shouting, screaming

Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves but bullying does the exact opposite and can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Bullying makes people upset. It can make people feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It can make them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. People can lose confidence and may not want to go to school anymore. It may even make them sick. Bullying is destructive behaviour not just for the victims but also for those who exhibit bullying behaviour. Recognizing bullying in children or youth is an important step in stopping and preventing the emotional, physical and social scars that can last a lifetime. Children need help in fostering more positive relationships for their own well-being.

Consequences Felt by the Victim(s) after Bullying

  • Being exhausted
  • Headaches
  • Nightmares
  • Not being able to sleep
  • Panic Attacks
  • Shyness
  • Sleeping too much
  • Stomach-aches

Bullying can also hurts the bystanders since they are afraid they could be the next victim. Even if they feel badly for the person being bullied, they avoid getting involved in order to protect themselves or because they aren’t sure what to do.

Bullying has a power that can bring someone down through actions and words, and is a force that can make some one’s life miserable. Bullying has many consequences all of which are not good. If a child or adult is bullied to the point where they feel that they have no way out, it can lead to very severe consequences such as the victim killing themselves or others.

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