Recently, a parent brought to my notice a case of bullying that involved his daughter. The entire story and outcome inspired this write-up, and I felt it should be a topic of focus.
What is bullying?
Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school-aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is often repeated or has the potential to be repeated over time. In order to be considered as bullying, the behaviour must be aggressive and include:
1. An imbalance of power: kids who bully use their power such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information or popularity to control or harm others.
2. Repetitions: bullying behaviours happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
Types of bullying
Bullying can be of three types namely:
1. Verbal bullying: this is saying or writing mean things about another person. Verbal bullying includes:
• Inappropriate sexual comments
• Threatening to cause harm
2. Social bullying (also known as relational bullying): this involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. This includes:
• Leaving someone out on purpose, segregation against someone or another group of children
• Telling other children not to be friends with someone
• Spreading rumours about someone
• Embarrassing someone in public
3. Physical bullying: this involves hurting a person’s body or possession. It includes:
• Taking or breaking someone’s things
• Making mean or rude hand gestures
Minimizing bullying in schools: Need for change
Bullying among students takes place mostly within the school. It is therefore the responsibility of the school authority to reduce bullying to the minimum if not get rid of it totally. Below are a few tips on how to minimize bullying in schools.
1. Proper information and orientation: children need to be taught the evils of bullying. They should be informed about the meaning, menace and means of overcoming bullying.
2. Reported cases of bullying should be well handled. Bullies should be punished adequately so as to deter them and others from such act.
3. Teachers and minders should be vigilant and watch out for traces of bullying amongst students.
4. Children should be encouraged to report all cases of bullying.
5. There should be policies in place against bullying in schools.
6. Parents of bullies should be counselled on how they can correct the behavioural defect of their ward(s).
Bullying: its impact and effects
Bullying has an enormous impact on the following;
• The individual being bullied (victim)
• The bully
• The school (leadership and management)
• The school brand
• The parents
• Student populace
The effects of bullying on the victim
The effects of bullying is mostly felt by the individual being bullied and if not properly handled, the victim can be eternally traumatised by this encounter. Below are some of the effects of bullying on the victim
1. Victims become less social: victims of bullying become withdrawn and less active in public. They rarely interact with other students or engage in public and communal activities.
2. Loss of interest in school: since majority of bullying cases among students happen in schools, victims of bullying gradually lose interest in school. They do all they can to avoid the bully which is only possible if they stay out of school.
3. Bodily harm: some bullies don’t stop at verbal abuse of their victims, they go physical too. Students who are being physically abused by bullies always try to conceal injuries as best as they can. These injuries if not tended to may cause a lot of harm to the victim.
4. Emotional torture: Beyond physical torture, bullies also inflict emotional torture on victims. Victims become emotionally disturbed and most of them do not share their hurts with others. They keep the hurt to themselves which continues to eat at them.
The effects on the bully
The bully is the one inflicting the hurt and discomfort at the moment but in the long run, he/she will also suffer the consequences. Here are some later effects of bullying acts on the bully
1. Character flaw: most bullies grow up thinking that they can always get their way at any time, this kind of mindset is the foundation of flawed character. If this notion is not corrected early enough, it might hamper the development of such individual.
2. Lack of true friends: most bullies always have people around them which they mistake for true friends. At a point in life, if they are not corrected of this habit early, they get to find out in the worst way their friendless status.
The effects of bullying on the school
School management and leadership are also affected by bullying acts in the school. Here are a few impact of bullying on the school.
1. Constant meeting with parents: school management are forced to have incessant meetings as a result of bullying acts in schools. They have to suspend other work at hand to attend to parents of the victim of bullying and parents of the bully. These meetings mostly don’t end at one sitting, thereby making them suspend other productive activities.
2. Question of competence: the case of bullying is a sensitive one to handle and if any party in the case is not satisfied with the decision of the management, they might question their competence which is derogatory to the school leadership
The impacts on the school brand
The school brand is equally affected by bullying acts of students. Here are some impacts of bullying on the school brand.
1. Bad projection: parents of victims most times withdraw their wards from schools where they are being bullied, especially when this bullying gets out of hand. Such parents will be quick to tell others of the incompetence of such schools and also portray the schools in bad light.
2. Setbacks: if schools do not manage bullying cases appropriately, it might lead to setbacks in a lot of ways for the school.
3. Negative publicity: Most dissatisfied parents of victims will stop at nothing to paint the school inappropriately. If bullying is not curtailed in schools, the school has a lot to lose should matters go out of hand.
The effects of bullying on the parents
Both parents of the victim and the bully will be affected by this act of bullying. Some of the impacts of bullying on parents are;
1. Emotional trauma: parents of the victim and bully get worried at all times when the children are away at school. The parents of the victim are always worried of the welfare of their child while the parents of the bully are constantly worried about his/her conduct in school.
2. Anxiety: parents of both parties are always anxious of their conduct and welfare when they are away at school.
3. Bad parenting projection: cases of bully most times portray parents of the bully as inadequate parents. Cases like bullying make people believe that parents of bullies do not inculcate the right values in them.
The impacts of bullying on the student populace
The student populace is not spared in the impact of bullying actions. Here are some of these impacts.
1. Thwarted judgement: most times, students are forced to take sides with the bullies even when they know that the bullies are wrong. They make the right person seem wrong which is not okay in all ramifications. They do this out of fear which might affect their sense of judgement if they continue down that lane.
2. Secrecy: students most times are forced to keep actions of bullies to themselves for the fear of being targeted. This kind of behaviour if not checked and corrected early enough might affect such students.
The effects of bullying on the society
The society, which is the bedrock of character development, requires that young minds be raised to become responsible adults. The society is also affected by the actions of bullies.
1. Societal nuisances: bullies that are not checked and corrected early end up as nuisances in the society.
2. Imbalance in the society: bullies do not wait for their turn or share. They believe that they are entitled to every and anything, thereby robbing the real owners of their entitlements.
Schools should have zero tolerance to bullying and severe punishment should be meted out on offenders in order to set others straight. Bullies cause their victims bodily and emotional harm which they might try to hide from the world, thereby affecting them in several ways unknown to the world. Bullies need to be nipped in the bud towards a better society.
Please feel free to share stories of bulling you know of and how it was stopped.
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Rotimi Eyitayo (C) 2016. All Rights Reserved.
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