Bullying is aggressive behaviour that involves repeatedly physically or emotionally hurting someone else or making them feel uncomfortable. There is usually an imbalance of power where one child, or group of children, oppresses another child or group of children. The bully might find the act amusing or pleasurable while the victim experiences fear and humiliation. Occasionally a child provokes another child into bullying them through a lack of awareness of what is appropriate behaviour.
Bullies experience a need to dominate other children and are often defiant, disaffected with school, dislike rules, have a problem with handling anger or jealousy, might behave impulsively and might have low empathy for others. Some bullies – particularly children who bully verbally-are thought highly of by adults as the bullying behaviour is hidden. These children are often considered popular by their peers; indeed, part of their success at bullying can be because they are so popular and witnesses are too afraid of losing the bully’s favour to intervene.
Children who have experienced problems at home such as abuse, unemployment, divorce, imprisonment, violence, alcoholism and bereavement, or who have not had effective parenting or good parenting role models are more likely to bully than children from stable and happy home backgrounds. Sometimes over-privileged children bully because they do not see the worth in other people and think too much of their own importance. When children get involved in gangs they might carry out aggressive behaviour to curry favour with the gang members and to feel included. Sometimes children bully because they are impulsive and lack control and fail to consider the consequences before they act. Victims sometimes become bullies themselves, repeating behaviour that was carried out on them.
Discuss the Following Questions With the Class:
– What is bullying?
– In what ways do people bully? (Physical bullying such as tripping up, pushing, punching and kicking, damaging possessions or throwing them out of a window, forcing someone to do a ‘dare’, extortion, making comments involving prejudices and name-calling, splitting up of friendships, spreading rumours, gossiping and shunning people, sexual harassment and cyber bullying – using mobile phones and the internet to victimize someone.)
– Why do some children bully?
– Why are some children victims? (Children can be picked on by chance. Very often shy, timid children, with few or no friends to support them, are singled out as they make easy targets. Children who are not sporty or well coordinated are often ridiculed, as are high achievers.)
– How might someone feel if they are being bullied? (Scared, lonely, sad, worthless, stupid, weak.)
– Sometimes bullies excuse their behaviour by saying it was only a bit of fun. Is this really true? (If the child at the receiving end of the ‘fun’ does not find it fun and is made to feel scared or hurt or upset then it’s bullying.)
– Have you witnessed bullying? What did you do? (You should stand up for the victim and encourage others to join you. Get adult help.)
– What could you do if you are the friend of a bully? (Don’t go along with the bullying; try to find out what’s behind it. Suggest other ways of coping with emotional pain such as talking about feelings, getting angry with a pillow instead of a person, getting help from an adult who will listen.)
– What could you do to protect potential victims? (Don’t leave them on their own. Invite them to join you.)