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Bullying is not easy to define. Sometimes it involves hitting or kicking. But threats, teasing, and taunting are more common and can be more damaging.
The word ‘bullying’ is used to describe many different types of behavior ranging from teasing or deliberately leaving an individual out of a social gathering or ignoring them, to serious assaults and abuse. Sometimes it is an individual who is doing the bullying and sometimes it is a group.
The important thing is not the action but the effect on the victim. No-one should ever underestimate the fear that a bullied child feels.
This advice sums up the most important actions to take – If someone in your family is being bullied at school – you have to do something to help: you must talk to a teacher.
If you are worried that someone in your family may be bullied – discuss this with a teacher.
If you want to help rid schools of bullying – work with the teachers to make schools safer and happier.
If you are not satisfied with the school’s response, do not give up – other sources of help are available.
Support and understanding at home are important in helping people to cope with bullying – do all you can to help children and young people value themselves.
Children and young people who witness or become aware of bullying may be unsure what to do and whether they should tell someone. Make sure they know that they should talk to a parent or teacher, and why.
The key messages to get across to the person being bullied are:
– It’s not your fault that you are being bullied
– You don’t have to face this
“When I was at primary school I got picked on non-stop for two years. No-one talked to me. I hadn’t done anything to get blamed for, and I still don’t know the reason I got picked on. I wasn’t any wealthier or poorer or a different race.
I used to cry myself to sleep every night. I was miserable. My parents knew and they talked to the headmaster but he wasn’t interested and said he couldn’t do anything about it. My parents knew all the bullies’ parents. One girl even lived in the same street and we had been friends since we were two. Like a sheep she dumped me because no-one else talked to me.
This all happened in primary 6 and I have lost nearly all my self-confidence and hate being on my own. I’d hate to think this was happening to anyone else. I have a fear that if one girl doesn’t talk to me they will all start again and it will never stop. I don’t want it to go on for the rest of my school life. I couldn’t cope.” (girl, 14)
“I have never actually set out to bully someone myself. It usually comes about when someone is being annoyed and provides an amusing reaction that I begin to join in. At the time you do not see it as bullying, although you may have doubts later. I do not think there is anyone at school who has not bullied someone in one way or another.” (boy, 16)
“My daughter has been bullied since she was at primary school. Daily she is called names like ‘bitch’ and ‘slag’. We have tried everything but no-one listens. She has threatened to kill herself. All she wants is to be a happy kid at school with friends. I don’t want any parent to suffer what we have suffered. I shall continue to fight.”
“People could either say, ‘That’s a terrible school because they have bullying’, or they could say, ‘That’s a good school because they are facing up to it,’ – we decided to take the risk.” (Headteacher whose school decided to launch an anti-bullying programme)
Bullying is when someone keeps doing or saying things to have power over another person.
Have any of these things happened to you? Have you done any of these things to someone else? Really, bullying is wrong behavior which makes the person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable.
There are a lot of reasons why some people bully. They may see it as a way of being popular, or making themselves look tough and in charge.
Some bullies do it to get attention or things, or to make other people afraid of them. Others might be jealous of the person they are bullying. They may be being bullied themselves.
Some bullies may not even understand how wrong their behavior is and how it makes the person being bullied feel.
Why are some young people bullied?
Some young people are bullied for no particular reason, but sometimes it’s because they are different in some way – perhaps it’s the colour of their skin, the way they talk, their size or their name.
Sometimes young people are bullied because they look like they won’t stand up for themselves.
Some people think bullying is just part of growing up and a way for young people to learn to stick up for themselves. But bullying can make young people feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. It makes them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. They lose confidence and may not want to go to school any more. It may make them sick.
Coping with bullying can be difficult, but remember, you are not the problem, the bully is. You have a right to feel safe and secure.
And if you’re different in some way, be proud of it! Kia Kaha – stand strong. Spend time with your friends – bullies hardly ever pick on people if they’re with others in a group.
You’ve probably already tried ignoring the bully, telling them to stop and walking away whenever the bullying starts.
If someone is bullying you, you should always tell an adult you can trust. This isn’t telling tales. You have a right to be safe and adults can do things to get the bullying stopped.
Even if you think you’ve solved the problem on your own, tell an adult anyway, in case it happens again.
An adult you can trust might be a teacher, school principal, parent, someone from your family or whanau, or a friend’s parent. If you find it difficult to talk about being bullied, you might find it easier to write down what’s been happening to you and give it to an adult you trust.
If you see someone else being bullied you should always try to stop it. If you do nothing, you’re saying that bullying is okay with you.
It’s always best to treat others the way you would like to be treated.
You should show the bully that you think what they’re doing is stupid and mean. Help the person being bullied to tell an adult they can trust.
Have you ever bullied someone else? Think about why you did it and how you were feeling at the time. If you are sometimes a bully, try to find other ways to make yourself feel good.
Most bullies aren’t liked, even if it starts out that way. Remember, it’s best to treat others the way you would like to be treated.
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