Dr. V.S. Gayathri
5 Things You Didn't Know About Bullying!
Updated: Jun 29, 2022
"Bullying is never fun; it's a cruel and terrible thing to do to someone. If you are being bullied, it is not your fault. No one deserves to be bullied, ever." - Raini Rodriguez
This almost summarizes our topic today, but there is much more to be said and heard about bullying.
Bullying is a social evil that has been there like a parasite in human minds and claiming lives. Both the bully and the victim fall prey to emotional upheavals, which lead to unforeseen circumstances. In this article, we will try to understand the underlying reasons and look at some of the facts.
Bullying can happen at every stage of life, anywhere and everywhere. We will specifically talk about bullying in school and among kids.
According to a 2019 report by UNESCO, 32% of students are bullied at school worldwide. And the number has risen and is quite alarming. According to recent statistics, the percentage of students varies anywhere between 9% to 98%. Check out the report to understand the concerning numbers on different aspects of bullying.
What is bullying?
Though we do not need a specific definition to understand what is bullying, still we will clarify it. Bullying refers to the aggressive behaviour of one person towards another due to a preconceived mindset or power imbalance where the bully demeans and disgraces the victim at a personal and social level.
We see such trends among students the most. According to an old report, as many as 42% of students of Class 4 to 8 and 36% of Class 9 to 12 said that they had faced harassment and bullying from their peers in school at some point in time.
Harassment can be in the form of teasing, making fun, spreading rumours, intentional exclusion, taking undue advantage, insulting or being ridiculed to even physical fights. The most detrimental effect of bullying is on the victim's emotional well-being and strength. And, we have often seen grave consequences in form of suicide or other drastic steps taken. It is also always not forgiving for the bully as well as many might receive punishments depending on the severity of their actions. Most of the time we see bullies being ignored or go unnoticed, but for many, it can be a life-changing situation as well.
The bully's perspective
There could be many reasons why someone chooses to bully, and often unjustified ones. The power game, feeling of being superior, social status disparities, racial discrimination, urge to control others, enjoying rewards from bullying, and short-term mental satisfaction can be some of the reasons for bullying. Often, the personal insecurities of the bully himself/herself lead to such aggressive behaviour.
In most cases, bullying is a learned behaviour. Either kids learn from observing people around or they might see their parents or friends doing it. They can sometimes unconsciously pick up the cues as well. Bullies lack empathy, show narcissist traits and love to intimidate others.
The victim's perspective
This is probably the most traumatized person because in most cases they do not express the fear of getting bullied more. They suffer in pain and this mental trauma takes a toll on them. It can lead to health issues, sleep deprivation, feeling of loneliness, suicidal thoughts, withdrawal from activities, absence, dropout, and others.
Most of the time, cases go unreported and they tend to suffer in silence. Often, they are ignored as well by adults saying that it will pass or you should deal with it etc. They are at risk of depression and lower academic performance as well.
According to a study, bullied students indicate that bullying has a negative effect on how they feel about themselves (27%), their relationships with friends and family (19%), their school work (19%), and physical health (14%).
5 hard-hitting facts about bullying that makes you think
Bullying is not an identity; it is learned behaviour: We have discussed before how bullies often learn from people and situations at home or in their growing environment. Kids pick up things very easily, and such displays of such behaviour from adults don't go unnoticed.
More than half of bullies stop when another peer intervenes: Studies show that 57% of bullies will stop when another classmate or friend intervenes. So, it is important for kids to know how they can intervene and hold their friends.
Children with disabilities are more likely to be bullied: How painful and bad it may sound, this is a hard fact. Up to 60% of kids on the autism spectrum face bullying. Many kids feel that having a disability makes them inferior to others and less talented. So, it is okay to bully them.
Bullies can influence other students: More than half of the students in the age group of 12-18 years feel that bullies have the power to influence other students, and hence they also start bullying them. This is actually true because kids tend to get influenced by other kids. And, in the trend to look 'cool', they also start bullying, willingly or unwillingly.
School-based policies and programs help, but prevention is often ignored: In the current scenario, every school must have an anti-bullying program in place. It has been seen that this leads to around a 25% reduction in problems. However, just having some policies won't help. The main action-oriented program must be proactive to look at prevention. Ignorance should never be tolerated.
There are different types of bullying like social bullying, cyberbullying, physical bullying, verbal bullying etc. which we will take up in another article.
You will be shocked to know that Indian kids are the most cyberbullied in the world. What is cyberbullying, how does it happen and how you can prevent it? Stat tuned with us for more details on this.
The bottom line is that bullying needs to STOP. And, it is everyone's responsibility to do so. There is not a single way, but rather a combination of various options that work in different situations. The main idea is to understand that someone is being bullied or someone is bullying someone and that action needs to be taken. We cannot ignore it in any way. Because, as we know things can go out of hand, and consequences can turn out to be pretty ugly.
We will talk about some effective ways to identify, handle, and prevent bullying in another article.