It's Happening More Than You Might Think
1 in 7 children are involved in bully-victim interactions. All children lose when aggression is tolerated; the bullies, the victims and the bystanders.
Some of the more common forms of bullying include physical, verbal (i.e. teasing and name-calling) and emotional (i.e. humiliation) assaults. Bullying can also involve intimidation, ethnic slurs, social isolation and/or exclusion from a group. Typically boys and girls bully very differently. Boys, who make up 70% of bullies, tend to be physically aggressive. Girls are usually more verbal, using teasing and social isolation as their form of attack.
Research has shown that there is not one standard bully profile. Some bullies have high self-esteems and are leaders amongst their peers; while others tend to have difficulty making friends and may be insecure and lacking in confidence. One common finding within the research shows that bullies are often angry individuals who feel justified in dominating others. Many children who are aggressors are also victims at home and/or witness one parent victimizing his/her spouse. It has also been shown that young children learn to be aggressive through watching television shows that display violent and negative behaviour. Therefore, it is important that parents monitor what their children view.
The flip side of the bully profile would be the victim profile. Surprisingly, victims are not always that different from their peers. They do not always wear glasses, they are not always overweight and they do not always entice bullying with annoying behaviour. Generally, these children are vulnerable, less confidant and have low self-esteems. They also tend to be withdrawn from others and lacking of supportive friends. Due to being bullied, victims often display nervous and anxious behaviours in and out of school. As well, they often experience a drop in grades and reluctance to go to school. Victims tend not to fight back and can be prone to mood swings and outbursts of anger resulting from suppressed emotions and the inability to express themselves to their attackers. Some of these children may be victims of abuse at home, whereas others may come from homes where their parents foster dependence by being overprotective.
How Can Counselling Help?
The frequency of bullying has increased in recent years and continues to be on the rise. Studies show that bullying usually takes place at school and is directly correlated with the violence we see in our communities and society in general. As a result many schools are adopting a zero tolerance policy toward bullying. Research has shown that interventions by parents, schools and counsellors can help bullies and victims. However, timing is everything; the earlier the intervention is implemented, the more effective it will be. To help deal with bullies many schools have set up anti-bullying programs. Nonetheless, schools can only do so much on their own; they need to work as part of a team with parents and society. Counselling can prove to be helpful on many different levels.
Schools would find it beneficial to have a counsellor visit. Through a workshop, the counsellor can provide the teachers, principal and other core staff members with information to help identify possible bullies and victims, as well as strategies to best deal with them. A counsellor can also assist the school in setting up an anti-bullying program.
Parents who choose to seek counselling for themselves and/or their child, may do so whether their child is a bully or a victim. Counsellors can help parents of a bully set up a behaviour modification program in the home and they can work with the child to learn more appropriate ways of dealing with anger. Parents of victims often feel helpless; they want to protect their child, but cannot. These parents can utilize counselling as an outlet for their own feelings while at the same time learning how to provide comfort and support to their children. Victims can gain a lot of confidence through attending counselling; they can learn how to better respond to a bully and how to stand up for themselves without having to fight.
An article in the Toronto Star discussed the results of a survey taken through the Starship Starphone. 80 readers called and described their problems they had had with bullies; many gave good solid advice that worked for them and could work for another child being bullied…
Ignore Them "I got referred to as a beached whale and I got teased a lot at the beginning of the year. I ignored it. When bullies told me I was fat, I Said 'Yeah I know. Thanks!' Now, the kids have Stopped teasing me and some have become My friends." ----Melissa
"Just ignore the comments. It may be hard, but if you let them know it bothers you, they will just continue to do it. If the teasing continues, talk to your friends and tell your parents."----Jacqueline
Have a positive attitude
"Just laugh at yourself if they tease you; they get bored and go away."-----Adam
Bullies think they're so cool and "hot", but really nobody likes them. Don't let stuff like that get to you." ----Stephanie
"I take Karate. I find it's a good way to deal with bullies. They stay away from you knowing that as you progress you know a lot of moves." ----Rachel
"If a bully is bullying you, tell a teacher. Don't fight back."----Lisa
"Be a friend to a bully and they'll be nicer to you. Bullies are people who don't have friends. Show Respect to them, complimenting them on their Clothes and stuff. They'll be nicer to you and they Might be nicer to everyone else."----Anonymous
Bullying has become a serious epidemic in our schools and in our communities. However, as people begin to pull together to deal with the situation, bullies and victims will be taught the skills needed to develop into confident, well-adjusted adults.