What is Bullying?Bullying is not always easy to define. A child may encounter bullying attacks that are:
- Physical. Pushing, kicking, hitting, pinching and other forms of violence or threats.
- Verbal. Name-calling, sarcasm, spreading rumours, persistent teasing.
- Emotional. Excluding (sending to Coventry), tormenting, ridicule, humiliation.
Emotional bullying, like ridicule and exclusion, seems to be more common than physical violence and, judging by what young people tell us, it can also be the most difficult type of bullying to cope with or prove. New methods have also followed this old problem—texting, cruel photos from a mobile, emails and web-based attacks are increasingly prevalent - this is cyberbullying.
Children who bully may seem to focus on one presumed characteristic of a child. However, do remember that a child’s alleged “difference” is not really the point of the bullying—bullies are playing with power any way they can. Children who are bright are often bullied, as are children with learning differences; tall children are bullied, as are small ones. Anything goes, but in our experience, bullying is often:
- Racist. Racial taunts, graffiti, gestures.
- Sexual. Unwanted physical contact or abusive comments.
- Homophobic. Any hostile or offensive action against lesbians, gay males or bisexuals or those perceived to be lesbian, gay or bisexual.
- Abuse of the vulnerable. For example, children with physical disabilities, on the autism spectrum, or with special educational needs. We also see bullying in children who are carers, children who have suffered a death in the family.
- Low self-esteem
- Poor academic achievement
- Threatened or attempted suicide
Possible signs of BullyingA child may indicate by their behavior that he or she is being bullied. If your child shows some of the following signs, bullying may be responsible and you might want to ask if someone is bullying or threatening them.
Children may :
- be frightened of walking to and from school
- change their usual route
- not want you to go on the school bus
- beg you to drive them to school
- be unwilling to go to school (or be 'school phobic')
- feel ill in the mornings
- begin truanting
- begin doing poorly in their school work
- come home regularly with clothes or books destroyed
- come home starving (bully taking dinner money)
- become withdrawn, start stammering, lack confidence
- become distressed and anxious, stop eating
- attempt or threaten suicide
- cry themselves to sleep, have nightmares
- have their possessions go missing
- ask for money or start stealing (to pay the bully)
- continually 'lose' their pocket money
- refuse to talk about what's wrong
- have unexplained bruises, cuts, scratches
- begin to bully other children, siblings
- become aggressive and unreasonable
- give improbable excuses for any of the ablove.