Bullying in school age children: Part 2

bullying-part-2-picture

September 2016

Note: The response to Part 1 has been so encouraging that I decided to publish the Part 2 of the series incorporating some of the reactions I received to Part 1 (which was on understanding what is bullying). This article will enhance our understanding and help us tackle some aspects of preventing it from happening at all.

I will begin this part of the series by picking up from what some of the readers of this blog have shared. What construes an act of bullying? What really are the qualifiers of an act or a person that it can be understood as that of bullying and a bully? One thing that is clear from our definition of Bullying in Part 1 was that there is an imbalance of power. That, the people who bully have some sort of unhinged power over those they bully.

Sharing a video here (about 2.16 minutes) as a starter. You may want to watch the 98 minute documentary Bully (PG13), directed by American director Lee Hirsch.

http://m.imdb.com/title/tt1682181/

You may also consider discussing the topic of bullying before and after watching movies like : Billy Elliot, The Fat Boy Chronicles, Ben 10 Alien Force, Cyberbully, Hercules, Jimmy Neutron, Justice League Unlimited, Spy Kids, The War and Bully, The Avengers. The 2015 film – A Girl Like Her, with teenage girls, is running on NetFlix now and has been shared by one of the readers of this blog as yet another film that one could watch for evoking strong emotions followed by discussions.

October is declared in America as the National Bullying Prevention Month. Parents and schools in various parts of the world are grappling with this and making efforts to prevent and stop bullying by advocacy and awareness. Today’s PTI news item is in all the news papers mentioning that actress Kate Winslet was bullied for being overweight through her school years. http://www.ptinews.com/news/7904110_Kate-Winslet-was-bullied-for-being-chubby- In Bangalore, a community support page for the victims of bullying was started this July and is actively sharing information to stop bullying –https://www.facebook.com/bullying.is.evil/

Here are some facts that you might want to keep in mind while defining the act or the person:

Fact no. 1 – Bullies usually pick on those who have less of social power (peer), psychological power (knowledge and potential of below the belt hurting capability) and of course physical power (in size and/or strength, training/swiftness).

Fact no. 2 – Often enough, people who bully, have suffered the same at some point in time i.e. they have themselves been victim of bullying.

Fact no. 3 – Sometimes, the people who are bullies and have been bullied, suffer with depression and anxiety. More than if they were only bullies or only victims of bullying. These individuals might need more help and counseling as they are likely to swing in their behavior from delinquency to risqué.

Fact no. 4 – Actions like spreading rumors, name calling, willfully excluding a child or group of children from a group activity, subjecting another child/ren to an embarrassing situation by creating it themselves or making them embarrass themselves in front of others are forms of social bullying that need to be recognized by students and teachers. As school is the place where it happens most.

Fact no. 5 – It is assumed that most often bullying has a bias for boys. More often than not, physical bullying does happen in boys but social and psychological bullying happens among girls as well. More often, as the girls grow older.

Fact no. 6 – Many children who bully are insecure about some aspect of themselves and as such have a sense of low self-esteem, many of them may have poor social skills and are anxious or depressed. However there are enough instances when bullies are actually popular boys/girls and have positive self-esteem. These children often are boastful of their behavior and wear bullying prowess as a chip on their shoulder.

Fact no. 7 – It is known that the act of bullying usually happens in secluded spaces, when no other student/teacher/parent is around. However, there are many instances when students pay attention, collude and laud act of bullying and the bully him/herself. Often times, the adults in the environment rarely recognize it as bullying even if they are in the vicinity of the act.

Fact no. 8 – Very often adults and children ignore the bullying, assuming that the issue will resolve itself over time. On the contrary, bullying reflects imbalance of power and it repeats itself. Ignoring indicates to the bully that their action and intention can continue without any consequence. Adults and children, both need to stand up and speak up about bullies and bullying to ensure an incident does not become a habit.

We have understood what construes bullying and are working on possible ways of preventing it we should keep in mind that one of the best ways is to equip our children with the information in a manner that they can prevent it on their own. By giving them scenarios and vocabulary. And keeping the channels of communication open at all times. For example, when you read story books dealing with the subject together at leisure or at bed time often enough, they tend to open up dialogue and helps you understand your child’s emotions and situations better.

Here are some references for your home library:

The Sneetches by Dr. Seuss, for all ages.

This deals with the common peer problems of exclusion and prejudice. The Star Belly Sneetches have a star on their bellies to symbolise superiority and prestige, and the reject the Plain belly sort.

Move Over Twerp by Martha Alexander, for grades 1 to  3 

The first day that Jeffrey rides the bus to school, older boys shout at the youngster and remove him from his seat in the back of the bus.

What a Wimp, by Carol Carrick, for grades 1 to 5

Barney and his family move from the city to the country where his mom said that people were so friendly. But, he soon becomes the target of Lenny Coots who targets Barney as his easy, smaller and younger victim.

Bully on the Bus, by Carl W. Bosch, for grades 1 to 6

Written in a “ choose your own ending” format, the reader decides what action to take while dealing with a bully. The reader can choose from many alternatives that including ignoring, talking to an adult, confronting the bully, fighting, and reconciling. There are many options and opportunities for excellent discussions with this book.

Check some more of these popular books listed on these sites:

https://www.goodreads.com/shelf/show/bullying

https://www.commonsensemedia.org/lists/books-about-bullying

http://www.parenting.com/blogs/mom-congress/melissa-taylor/best-5-bullying-books-parents

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/book-list/life-experiences-values/books-about-bullying-grades-1-2

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/book-list/life-experiences-values/books-about-bullying-grades-3-5

http://www.scholastic.com/parents/resources/book-list/school/books-about-bullying-middle-schoolers

More on bullying, in part -3 when I will be talking about signs of bullying, effects of bullying, talking about and responding to bullying . Please send in your views and concerns, thoughts and queries. Especially situations that according to you were incidences of bullying and how was it handled. Or was it? How else could it have been handled differently and/or better? Please exclude or change names as necessary to maintain confidentiality. I will include it in the next discussion in this AskNiv series on Bullying. You can post your mail id if you want to be notified when it is published.

 

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7 thoughts on “Bullying in school age children: Part 2

  1. Again – great read punctuated with enough resources accumulated in one place that leaves no room not to understand bullying – causes and effects — thanks Niv

    Prevention of buying maybe an uphill task as the diagnosis of the same takes time especially since bullying usually happens in stealth – may I ask the writer to delve more on the remedies that can be offered – Counseling is highly overrated and involves adults while programs involving children of the same age from peer and friends seem to work better.. While adults may tend to over analyze and over complicate the remedial process

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  2. Thank you Ms Niv for this very informative post and the references .Its heartbreaking to read the statistics on bullying . Bullying / ragging was a such an accepted part of school and college culture in my growing up years and was tantamount to an organised crime ! Often times it took on bizarre proportions with gut wrenching consequences . The attempts to stop them were too feeble and did not deserve mention ! I thought things had changed for the better over the years and that there was a paradigm shift in approach ! But no ,not really . I learned about the depth of sadness and the brutality of loss when a dear friend lost her teenage son to suicide ( grade 10 , bullying on the bus )
    When I first heard of DoSomething.org and similar initiatives it warmed my heart to know that there was some help at hand . I agree with Sridhar65 . Prevention is a huge challenge yet I nurture the fond hope that in the not so distant future this problem with be dealt with finesse . Looking forward to more from you ❤️️

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  3. Sometimes bullying though gets noticed does not get reported becoz of fear . The aggrieved either starts believing that what the bulky is saying about him or her is true or is afraid of the consequences of reporting the matter to higher ups. This is an extention to the point on bullying goes u noticed becoz parents and elders feel they will get corrected on their own. The fear of reporting can be seen both in the minds of the person being bullied as well as their elders too sometimes becoz of various reasons .
    School children bully yes but bullying need not take place in the schools. On the contrary they wait to catch the vulnerable ones outside the premises

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  4. Hi Peeu
    As always u write beautifully. This is a much talked about much dreaded and much researched topic yet the more one reads the more one feels the need to push the preventive thru . The more ones blood boils at what these kids learn and ate subjected to at an age when their whole being should be a personification of innocence . But I guess merely expressing shock at their behaviour is not going to help. Action and prevention is what is the need of the journey. Let’s start by educating on bully free society. With u on this.

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  5. A very needed discussion for the teachers,parents and children of all ages. As very rightly put by you communication is one of the major factor to deal with this menace and stories can act as a catalyst to help children become safe,kind and proactive.
    Surprisingly I have noticed that not only the children but sometimes parents too become the bullies to their own children and exhibit almost the similar traits as stated by you or even worst. Its quite a helpless situation,may be you can touch upon this in your part 3.
    Looking forward to read it.

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  6. Thank you Nivedita maam for giving an insight in to different types of bullying and related details. I was wondering as an educated group we are able to get the information regarding how to handle bullying, prevention etc., But how can we educate uneducated people about how can they protect from getting bullied by educated people. I look forward to educating them in this journey with you.

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  7. Dear Ms.Nivedita,
    Each child will have a different take away from movie. Some will look at characters to write a story, some will like to play the role of the good character in their real life and some would like to play the role of the bad character as well. This also connects to neo-natal parenting actions. My team has conducted few workshops for would-be moms and dads. It was eye-opener for them to know that the movies viewed during the neo-natal stage also has an impact on developing a personality.

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