¿What is Bullying?
Bullying is the continuous harassment against a child or adolescent perpetrated by another more powerful kid or group of kids, whether in terms of physical strength or social status, and those who perpetrate it usually brag about their power and have a desire to intimidate and dominate their surroundings. Bullying usually occurs among youngsters of similar ages in elementary schools or high-schools and usually involves one or more people, leaving the bullied kid completely defenseless. The term bullying comes from the Dutch and means harassment.
The first person to implement the term “bullying” to school harassment was the researcher Dan Olweus, who carried out a long-term study in the 70s in Sweden that would result in a complete anti-bullying program for schools in Norway.
In the past, school harassment was not a very spread-out topic, but given the increase in cases of bullying and aggressions in school centers in which many kids have experienced truly terrifying situations, it has become an issue that deserves special attention.
Bullying is present in almost any environment, it is not exclusive to a certain sector of society or gender, although the aggressor’s profile does indicate a tendency for the male gender. There are no differences regarding the victim either.
Aggressors harass their victims when they’re alone, in the bathroom, on the hallway, at the lunch room, the yard. For this reason, teachers are usually unaware of these situations.
It’s not just a shove or a spoken insult. It’s a situation that, unless it is stopped in time, may result in serious emotional damage for the victim.
This practice is quite frequent in elementary and junior high school. In other parts of the world, kids are adapting to new technologies, resulting in what has been called cyber-bullying, or online harassment, specifically in websites, blogs or by email.
Consequences of bullying on the aggressor (s)
Bullies could develop into criminals. These persons are frustrated because it is difficult for them to coexist with others and think no effort will be enough to generate positive relationships with their classmates.
Consequences for the victims
Evident low self-esteem, passive attitude, loss of interest in school which may lead to failure in class, emotional disorders, psychosomatic problems, depression, anxiety, suicidal thoughts. Unfortunately some kids take their lives to escape these situations.
How does an aggressor behave?
Bullies usually act to impose their power over their victims, subduing them for months or even years.
The kid, or group of kids, usually has an aggressive and threatening attitude for no apparent reason against other kids.
To them, anything can be a reason to make fun of the victim.
Their way to solve conflicts is through aggression.
They are not empathic, so they’re unable to put themselves in the victim’s shoes.
Bullying victim behavior
They are commonly shy and slightly unsociable kids. Facing constant harassment, they are obviously anguished, tense and very scared.
They show aggression towards their parents or teachers.
They use excuses or different arguments not to go to school or participate in school activities.
Victims begin to lose material goods with no justification or ask their parents for more money than usual to cover their bully’s blackmail.
In more severe cases, they show bruises or evident signs of aggression on their face and body.
How to prevent bullying in the family
Family is the children’s main source of love and education. Based on family values, norms and taught behaviors, kids learn to socialize. We must avoid letting our home become a hostile environment, while also avoiding excessive permissiveness, since these extreme environments are likely to bring about aggressive behaviors in kids.
Another role of the family is being well informed. There are workshops to orient parents in how to keep their kids away from bullying, usually based on love and parent-child communication, observation to detect unusual conducts right away, being on top of the kid’s activities, establishing boundaries and ground rules, and enforcing them.
These workshops pay special attention on emotional intelligence, teaching parents how to help their kids control their emotions and behavior towards others so that they can coexist in peace.