What Constitutes Bullying?
This is a subject that many parents tend to shy away from – be it because they have suffered at the hands of bullies themselves during their own schooling – or because they tend not to want to believe it can happen in their child’s school.
Unfortunately – as is becoming painfully obvious nowadays – the issue of bullying is one that will not simply go away and requires both parents and teachers alike to understand it and be able to spot the signs of it before it reaches an unacceptable and dangerous level.
Common Forms of BullyingBullying can take many different forms and is sometimes hard to describe but the most common forms of bullying are:
- Verbal Abuse: A pupil or group of pupils name-calling, using racially unacceptable words, profanities and religious slurs against one or perhaps more children in the school.
- Physical Abuse: Again a pupil or group of pupils causing physical harm to another pupil or pupils in order to affect as much discomfort and pain as is possible. For the most part this can be best described as kicking or punching but can also be representative of spitting, pushing, tripping up and in the main any sort of unnecessary or unwarranted physical contact between your child and another pupil.
- Racial Abuse: Making disparaging remarks about ones colour or religion in order to cause offence or upset by one or more pupils. Again something that is difficult to detect unless you – as a parent or teacher – are witness to it; and again one form of bullying that many children suffering it are reluctant to discuss.
- Cyber-Bullying: A relatively new but nonetheless unpleasant form of bullying, which can take on more than one form. It can come in the form of a text message sent to your child’s mobile telephone, illicit picture messages and hoax telephone calls and also has now swept across the realms of Internet usage. Instances of cyber-bullying are on the increase especially with the advent of Instant Messaging and so-called ‘Community’ websites where children post personal details and photographs of themselves. Recent studies show that this particular kind of bullying has increased sharply over the last few years especially as technology has evolved and also become more affordable.
Within the school environment there are now moves to ban the use – and indeed the possession – of mobile telephones during school hours and also restrictions placed on what access children have to the Internet whilst at school.
Likewise it is worth mentioning that although a lot of instances of bullying go unreported they are not perhaps as isolated as we might think and we as parents also have to play our part in what our children do and have access to. Of course no parent wants to consider the possibility that their child is either a bully or on the receiving end of a bully’s unwanted attention but the fact remains that it does happen and we must – as both parents and teachers – do all we can to ensure that bullying at whatever level is prevents before it reaches proportions which can leave our children in a highly emotional and deeply distressed state.
As a parent you can contact your child’s school and ask them for details on their anti-bullying policies or speak with the school’s Parent Teacher Association.