What You Should Know About Bullying

What You Should Know About Bullying

What is bullying?

Bullying is exposing a person to abusive actions repeatedly over time.1 Being aware of children’s teasing and acknowledging injured feelings are always important. Bullying becomes a concern when hurtful or aggressive behavior toward an individual or group appears to be unprovoked, intentional, and (usually) repeated.

Bullying is a form of violence. It involves a real or perceived imbalance of power, with the more powerful child or group attacking those who are less powerful. Bullying may be physical (hitting, kicking, spitting, pushing), verbal (taunting, malicious teasing, name calling, threatening), or emotional (spreading rumors, manipulating social relationships, extorting, or intimidating). Bullying can occur face-to-face or in the online world.

Bullying is also one or more acts by a pupil or group of pupils directed against another pupil that constitutes sexual harassment, hate violence, or severe or pervasive intentional harassment, threats, or intimidation that is disruptive, causes disorder, and invades the rights of others by creating an intimidating or hostile educational environment, and includes acts that are committed personally or by means of an electronic act, as defined.

An “electronic act” is defined as transmission of a communication, including, but not limited to, a message, text, sound, or image by means of an electronic devise, including but not limited to, a telephone, wireless telephone or other wireless communication device, computer, or pager.

What are the consequences of school bullying?

Bullying among children often leads to greater and prolonged violence. Not only does bullying harm the targets, it also negatively affects students’ ability to learn and achieve in school.

Since 2012 our BMA team have dealt swiftly to respond to complaints. Students found to have been involved in harassment of others have been treated in a variety of ways; some have been suspended, required to receive counseling, lost dorm privilege, been dismissed as the situation warranted, or reported to the authorities.

What can students do about school bullying?

Bullies rarely stop bullying on their own. A bully’s aggressive behavior will most likely escalate and over time, he/she will devise bolder methods for hurting people. Telling a teacher, dean or administrator at BMA about the bullying and asking for help are essential. BMA provides several ways for students to report bullying and abuse.

Students can also express disapproval by not joining in the laughter, teasing, or gossip. Stand up for and befriend those being targeted.

What can parents of students do about school bullying?

Bullying behavior may be complicated by other factors for high school students. Sexual harassment, bias or hate-motivated bullying, and the aggressive and humiliating hazing done as part of tradition or initiation into a club, sports team, or other group may come into play. As well as being there, parents must remain proactive and reinforce respectful behavior. During a child’s life, parents must remain a strong force by anchoring the values that guide their children’s actions and decisions. Parents may not know it, but they are still powerful teachers. They should keep in mind the following suggestions in maintaining guidance of their teens:

  • Bullying is disrespectful and can be dangerous even if perpetuated in the spirit of team building or as the price to pay for joining a group. This behavior, or hazing, is illegal and is humiliating at the least and life threatening at the worst.
  • Bullying of a sexual nature constitutes sexual harassment and is also illegal.
  • Bullying based on race, ethnicity, religion, disability, or sexual orientation is a form of bias or hate and cannot be dismissed as teasing.
  • Bullying behavior that continues into adulthood escalates to violent behavior toward strangers, friends, and even family.
  • A lifetime of consequences may follow both the target and the bully.

Parents of teens should remain vigilant and understand school policies regarding bullying and the consequences of bullying. Parents must keep communication flowing between them and their children, teachers, and staff. If they become aware of bullying problems at school, parents must report it to the school immediately and ask for and accept help from the school whether their child is the bully, the target, or a witness.

Parents must continue to be a positive role model in any setting and refrain from using foul language or “put-downs.” Maintaining friendships with others based on trust and respect, acknowledging and accepting diversity, and resolving disputes peacefully are positive ways to model appropriate social behavior.