Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems.
In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:
● 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. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
● Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.
Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.
TYPES OF BULLYING:
There are three types of bullying:
● Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
o Inappropriate sexual comments
o Threatening to cause harm.
So, verbal bullying refers to the use of words to harm others with name-calling, insults, making sexual or bigoted comments, harsh teasing, taunting, mimicking, or verbal threats.
● Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
o Leaving someone out on purpose
o Telling other children not to be friends with someone
o Spreading rumors about someone
o Embarrassing someone in public.
So, social or relational bullying focuses on excluding someone from a peer group, usually through verbal threats, spreading rumors, and other forms of intimidation.
● Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
o Taking or breaking someone’s things
o Making mean or rude hand gestures.
So, physical bullying can involve hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, or otherwise attacking others.
● Other types of bullying:
- Reactive bullying involves the bully responding to being a former victim by picking on others.
- Bullying can also involve assault on a person's property, when the victim has his or her personal property taken or damaged.
(Stopbullying.org -United States government- and medicinenet.com )
WHERE AND WHY?
Bullying is likely to occur wherever large numbers of children congregate, and in most cases, this means the school (or lately, in cyberspace). It also tends to thrive wherever there is the least amount of structure and adult supervision.
Transitions are a prime opportunity for aggression of all types. Most transitions – changing classes, getting lunch, settling into a classroom – happen quickly and with a fair amount of disruption. When you look at it through this lens, it’s easy to see why these areas are popular for bullying behaviors.
The types of bullying that happen in these situations include insults and name-calling, as well as physical actions such as pushing, shoving, or tripping. One popular bullying method is to push or trip an individual and video their reaction via cellphone. In many cases, such videos are widely shared, bringing a cyberbullying element into the event.
The “why” of bullying is a complicated topic. However, the why of bullying behaviors in these transitional spaces is clear. Bullies take advantage of ever-changing surroundings with less adult supervision to quickly target their victims. Witnesses to these behaviors are unlikely to report them and victims may have difficulty proving what happened.
But bullying is the result of the bully's need to get and keep control over someone else.
BULLYING SYMPTOMS & SIGNS:
Signs and symptoms of someone who is being bullied can include:
● missing belongings,
● unexplained injuries,
● having a limited number of friends,
● declining grades, or
● being self-destructive.
It’s important to highlight that bullying is something that transcends every ethnic and cultural boundary. It occurs to some degree in every culture around the world, and no family is immune from its effects.
But good news, there are a number of approaches that victims and bystanders of bullying, as well as parents, school, and work personnel can use to discourage bullying at school or in the workplace.
Some recommendations to stop it can be: learn to deal with a bully walking away when the situation seems threatening or dangerous; it’s also important to report bullying right away so that someone in authority can put a stop on it; stay calm, so do your best to keep calm and avoid showing them how you feel because the bully may feed off of these emotions and increase their efforts.
Regarding the witnesses, how can they help? The answer is easy, if you see or hear about someone being bullied, then step in to stop the bullying right away, and if you can’t intervene yourself, then find someone who can. But the most important advice is to take bullying seriously.
Now we would like to introduce a real example of bullying with the case of Gabriel, a young French victim of this type of violence.
Interview with Gabriel, 17 years old, victim of harassment since he was 10 years old.
- Can you tell us what happened and how did you feel back then?
When I was in 6th grade, 7 years ago, people started bullying me because I was different from the others. I felt really unhappy, I had not many friends (only some best friends that helped me a lot by the way). Through ache words (because I “look gay”), insults (in real life but also on social networks), exclusions from the group (nobody selected me when it came to create sport teams in school, or group work in general), death threats (that I deserve it, that being gay is not natural, disease, virus…), my self-confidence disappeared in a few months. Most of the harassers were boys, let’s say girls were on my side before and even now.
- How did you pass through that and did you have support from anybody?
I had very good friends that helped me a lot. I wanted to live normally so I kept being strong and tried to not listen to the criticisms. My family didn’t help me because I was too embarrassed to speak with them, that’s why they learnt about it 5 years after.
- How does it impact your life today? Do you feel weakened or on the contrary stronger?
I am stronger now definitely, I passed through very hard, unhappy and sad moments. I think that from now on, not many things that come from strangers can impact me anymore.
It impacts my life a lot in the sense that now I feel all the time scared in the street. Scared that someone kills me, or beats me because I am gay.
- Was it hard to assume your homosexuality after this?
Not that much because everybody guessed it, I didn’t have to claim “I am gay”. Then, there was 2 teams : some were insulting me some supporting me. Little by little, I assumed that I am gay and that I didn’t care about people opinion.
- According to you, what can be done to improve this “mentality” and to prevent this kind of discrimination?
I think that we can do several actions to punish the harassers but it is very difficult, because they are under 18. I think that parents should create a climate of trust so that their children feel free to confide.
- How do you feel to talk about this now, is it difficult for you?
Now I feel proud of me, stronger, more confident. If I can help with my testimony, I would be glad. Yesterday I was in contact with a guy that is living the same and just by talking with him, I could feel that he got better. I think that it is really important to help each other to fight against this harassment phenomenon.
- Which advices could you give to someone that is going though the same thing?
You should assume 100% because if you transform this “weakness” (as it is seen in the society) into a strength, if you assume and you are ok with it, people won’t try to press on it, will stop criticizing because they will see that it does not touch you. Also you should surround yourself with good people if that it is possible and definitely get psychological help.
Gabriel on a videocall with our volunteer Oriane.