May 31, 2010

We need to talk about bullying

I think that every single person who reads this blog has come across bullying in some way or another. Some of you may have been bullied, seen bullying or were bullies (or any combination of those three), so it isn't hard to learn that bullying exists in some capacity in almost every school around the world.

In my opinion, bullying is a major problem in schools today and can lead to long-term suffering for the victim in the form of depression, anxiety, low self-esteem and even suicide. It is estimated that in the UK anywhere from 15-25 children will commit suicide due to bullying. Isn't that scary?

So what exactly is bullying?

Bullying includes, but is not limited to, name-calling, alienation and exclusion, punching, pinching, kicking, teasing and coercion. Victims of bullying often become isolated from their peers because of their exclusion from group activities, the bullying of their friends (who eventually stop associating with them) and criticising them based on the way they dress, physical features, disability, race, class, hobbies or gender.

Schoolyard bullying can happen in the classroom, in halls, toilets, on the playground, on the way to and from school (on buses or on the route walked home) and anywhere that isn't under the eye of a teacher. It is horribly common and the results of bullying can be sometimes devastating.

A lot of people who are bullied will often not report it to their teachers or parents, or they did so at one point and nothing was done about it. Bullying can often be dismissed by adults in power which only reinforces the individual's feelings of low self-esteem.

So what can be done about bullying? In a lot of schools here in Australia there are a growing number of students and teachers starting anti-bullying campaigns and this increased awareness of the severity of bullying will lead parents and teachers to be more alert for bullying and to take reports of bullying seriously. I think bullies need to start being punished rather than be let get away with it. Bullies will never learn that their behaviour is wrong if they do not receive any form of negative response.

Obviously the one thing you can do is report it if you are being bullied or if you see someone being bullied. Be brave, stand up and say something... you could save someone's life.

1 comment:

  1. Yes, when I think back I remember a school where bullying was not tolerated, so there was very little of it. But that was part of the school's culture, not just a campaign. Also, that school provided plenty of other ways for bullies to outgrow their lack of self-esteem, so dealing with it was not simply a matter of punishment.

    At another school the head teacher was himself a bully. He bullied his staff, pupils, governors...everyone. So bullying was rife, and a campaign would have achieved very little.