So, what is bullying?
The dictionary definition of bullying is:
‘abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc.’
It’s important to know that those who are ‘stronger, more powerful etc.’ are not always actually physically stronger or more powerful, but are seen or perceived in this way. In fact, recent research has shown that people who are bullied themselves are at least twice as likely to bully others. Many bullies reported experiencing difficulties at home, in their relationships or that they have experienced some sort of trauma. This shows us that bullies aren’t necessarily more powerful, but may actually be seeking power and control.
Are there different types of bullying?
When most people imagine bullying, they people think of it as something that happens in school playgrounds, with big kids pushing around the smaller kids. Bullying, however, actually affects people of all ages, of all backgrounds and in many different places.
Sometimes we may be bullied for things we already feel bad about, but sometimes bullies find ways to make us feel bad about who we are and things we have previously been happy with. As shown above, this may be more about the bully seeking power than anything else, but that doesn’t stop the things they say or do from being hurtful.
Some things people report being bullied for are:
- Physical appearance
- Academic performance
When bullying happens in person, it may be physical – like pushing or hitting, but it can also be emotional – like name calling. Sometimes we can feel like emotional bullying isn’t as bad as physical bullying because you can’t see it. Emotional bullying can actually affect us deeply and stay with us for years.
Sometimes, the people bullying us may be people we know and trust, or people who are in a position of authority that should be taking care of us. It is important to know that regardless of your relationship with someone, that does not give them the right to bully you or make you do anything you don’t want to do.
In 2017, we have increasing access to technology and social media. This means that we are accessible to bullies at all times, wherever we are. Cyberbullying is become an increasing problem, with up to 56% of young people reporting having been bullied online.
Am I the only one being bullied?
Absolutely not. The largest bullying survey ever taken, found that 50% of young people (aged 12-20 years old) have been bullied. If this is even partially representative of older generations, who may have been bullied at this age, then a huge percentage of our population has been bullied at some point in their lives. Unfortunately, bullying doesn’t stop as we get older, so these numbers may be even higher.
It’s not all bad though!
Even though many of us experience bullying at some point, there are things you can do to help yourself and others. It is important to know that just because it happens frequently, bullying is never okay. We are all different, which means that we won’t all get along and we won’t always like each other, but we are all equal, and at the very least, we all deserve to be treated with respect.
Tomorrow, we will be exploring some things that you can do if you are being bullied, or are worried about someone you feel is being bullied.
Remember, if you or someone you know is being severely affected by bullying or any other issues, you can reach out to a person you trust, or organisations like Childline, who are there to support you with whatever you are going through.