Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. It includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
To put this into a more kid-friendly definition of bullying, you could say that, It is when you keep picking on someone because you think you’re cooler, smarter, stronger, or better than them.
Myths about bullying
Bullying is a normal part of growing up. WRONG. It doesn’t end when one reaches adulthood (as the high incidence of bullying in the workplace clearly shows.) Contrary to this myth, It is not a normal part of growing up, extends beyond childhood, and can have legal and psychological ramifications for the youth and community involvement.
It is impossible to Stop. WRONG. There are in fact many schools where bullying and victimization are rare. Tackling bullying requires dealing with bullying at several levels including in the home, at school, and in the community. Tackling bullying also requires positive adult leadership in schools, positive student leadership, and healthy relationships between everyone involved.
Physical Bullying is more damaging than verbal or relational bullying (aka “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me.”) WRONG. This is a dangerous bullying myth, especially for those living in some states in the US (e.g., Georgia) that have limited the definition of bullying to only physical acts – a definition that ignores the fact that most acts of bullying are not overt, physical actions. Relational Bullying, excluding victims from group activities, can be even more damaging and unlike a physical definition of bullying is often invisible and so can go on for years without being noticed. This can make Verbal Bullying and Relational Bullying even more insidious than physical bullying.
Components of Bullying
There are two components in the above definitions for kids that make it unique.
- It is a repetitive act that occurs over time. This differentiates bullying from aggressive acts that occur only once.
- It involves an imbalance of power between the bully and the victim.
Of course, bullies need not be physically stronger than their victims. Instead, this imbalance of power that occurs in bullying can come from numerous sources including:
- Being more popular
- Being stronger
- Being smarter
- Having a higher social status
Types of Bullying
Physical bullying is using one’s body and physical bodily acts to exert power over peers. Punching, kicking and other physical attacks are all types of physical bullying. The effects can be easier to spot.
The definition of verbal bullying is when an individual uses verbal language (e.g., insults, teasing, etc) to gain power over his or her peers.
For example, a less athletically inclined peer may be called a nerd or wimp. Unlike physical bullying, by definition verbal bullying is harder to see and stop. It tends to occur when adults aren’t around to stop it and the effects of it are not obvious.
It can be very damaging and may have long-term psychological effects on the victim.
Relational / Social
Relational Bullying is common amongst youth, but particularly so among girls, and involves a bully trying to hurt a peer and/or that peer’s standing within a particular peer group.
It can be used as a tool by bullies to both improve their social standing and control others. Unlike physical bullying which is obvious, relational bullying is not overt and can continue for a long time without being noticed.
Signs your child might be experiencing bullying include an aversion to going to school, drop in grades, sleeping problems withdrawal from family, extracurricular activities, and spends all their time in their bedroom with the door locked. complaints of stomach aches, headaches panic attacks, nightmares, etc.