Courage is fire, and bullying is smoke – Benjamin Disraeli
Everybody has likely been bullied…or been a bully…at some points in their life. Personally I have been bullied throughout my life, and it really affects your self-confidence for a long time. I am lucky that I have had outlets such as my martial arts to re-focus my energies on and start feeling positive again. However, for you or your child, the outlets may not be so obvious. Therefore, we all need to keep an eye on the signs of somebody being bullied or doing the bullying.
According to www.stopbullying.gov, bullying is unwanted behaviour that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. It is also behaviour that is, or has the potential to be, repeated over time. This is why it is so worrying, as it can have lasting serious problems, such as:
- the victim – can include depression, anxiety, health complaints and decreased academic achievement. In addition, the victim may go to extremes by retaliating in extremely violent fashion (i.e. weapons);
- the bully – this can include a greater likelihood of abusing alcohol and drugs, getting into fights, vandalism, dropping out of school, have criminal convictions, or be more abusive as adults (this can include their partner, spouse or their children);
- the bystanders – this can include increased use of tobacco / drugs / alcohol, depression, anxiety, miss or skip school or work.
Bullying can take many forms, such as:
- Verbal – this can include teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting and threatening to cause harm;
- Social Bullying – this involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. It can include, leaving someone out on purpose, telling other people not to be friends with someone, spreading rumours about someone, and embarrassing someone in public;
- Physical Bullying – this involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. It includes hitting, spitting, pushing, breaking somebody’s things, or making mean hand gestures.
Bullying can happen anywhere and anytime. This is why it is so hard to track. However, statistics show the following:
- Girls bullying – usually starts at Year 1 – 2, with put-downs about clothes or hair being typically used. In Years 3 – 4, tactics change with cliques isolating the bullied person from groups or promise of inclusion for favours. In Years 5 – 6, situations can worsen. This can include intimidation or threatening notes, gossiping and spreading embarrassing stories;
- Boys bullying – this typically involves physical aggression (or the threat of using it). They are often quick physical attacks that hurt and are over before anybody sees it. There is a genuine fear of the physical attack or the threat some abuse may happen. Boys see bullies as strong and powerful. This can peak in Years 4 – 5;
- Corporate bullying – is usually repeated and hurtful remarks about you or your work, sexual harassment, exclusion from groups, playing mind games, intimidation, giving pointless tasks that have nothing to do with your job, given impossible tasks, deliberately holding back information, or actual physical attacks at work.
In order to prevent bullying, as parents and teachers / management, you can consider the following:
- Help the “bully” understand bullying. Talk about what it is and stand up to it safely. Let them know that bullying is unacceptable. Make sure kids know how to get help;
- Keep the lines of communication open. Check in with your children or co-workers often. Listen to them. Know who their friends are and ask about school / work;
- Encourage children and co-workers to do what they love. Interests and hobbies boost confidence, helps them make friends, and protect them from bullying behaviour (especially martial arts);
- Be a role model for those around you. If you treat others with kindness and respect, your children, friends and co-workers will mimic that behaviour.
If you need to respond to bullying, consider the following:
- Stop it on the spot. When parents and teachers respond quickly and consistently to bullying behaviour, it sends the message that it is not acceptable. So, intervene immediately (or get somebody to help). Separate the people involved. Make sure everyone is safe. Stay calm and do not add more tension to a situation. Model respectful behaviour when you intervene;
- Find out what happened. Keep the parties separated. Get the story from several sources (if possible). Listen without blaming. Understand what happened before judging, especially with children;
- Support the person being bullied. Listen and show them that you want to help. Assure them that bullying is not their fault. If people are being bullied, they may struggle talking about it, so refer them to a professional counsellor. Give advice about what to do (e.g. role playing if it happens again). Work together to resolve the situation. Be persistent. And make sure that you regularly follow up with the bullied person;
- Address the behaviour with the person doing the bullying. Make sure that they know what the problem behaviour is and that it harms others. Respectfully show them that bullying is taken seriously and will not be tolerated. Work with the person to understand some of the reasons on why they bullied in the first place (i.e. they may be trying to fit in, or they may have other things going on in their lives). Use consequences to teach (such as leading a discussion on what it is to be a good friend or write a story on the affect of bullying). Involve the person who bullied to help make amends, so they can see how their actions affect others. Follow up with the person who did the bullying to help them, such as praising acts of kindness.
Every single one of us are unique in our own way. Everybody has the right to be happy. Always focus on what makes you special. If someones tries to put you down, they are focusing on you and not them. It is very often not something they dislike about you, but rather something they do not like about themselves. So, continue to hold your head high, because you are worth it.
If you ever wish to speak about any matters, including bullying, we at Quantum Martial Arts are here for you. Please let us know if we can help with anything.
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