Bullying is repeated, unreasonable behavior that is intimidating, degrading or humiliating. Bullying has the potential to create a risk to health, safety and wellbeing, including psychological, emotional and physical health. It may take place face to face on campus, via phone or email, on-line or within residential colleges.
Bullying may be discriminatory, based on someone’s race, gender, sexual orientation, disability or religious beliefs or have no apparent cause.
Bullying may occur between individuals or groups or between students and staff.
Being bullied is a stressful experience – in fact, it is one of the most stressful experiences we can face. International research shows bullying occurs in every school. We now better understand that bullying is physically, socially and psychologically damaging, with the hurt extending beyond just the victim to the bully and the bystanders who witness the activity as well.
How to cope with bullies
“Coping” describes how we deal with stress, including the everyday stresses we face in life. Coping strategies may be described as positive strategies that can decrease the likelihood of continued victimization, such as seeking help or support from others to stop the victimization.
If you are being bullied, there are some things you can do:
- Tell someone you trust – your parents, a teacher, an older sibling or grandparent;
- Stay in the busy areas of school where there are lots of people;
- Keep a diary of who does want and who witnessed it;
- Ask your parents to write or phone your teacher;
- Change your phone SIM card if you get nasty messages;
- Walk home with other people or catch a different bus;
- If you see someone else being bullied, tell someone.
The impact of bullying
Bullying can have a negative effect on mental and physical wellbeing. People who are being bullied may experience decreased self-esteem, which can lead to reduced attendance at University and withdrawal from social activities. They may experience depression, stress related illnesses, substance abuse and display self-harming behaviors.
When bullying is not stopped or challenged by anyone it can create an environment where bullying is accepted and where everyone feels powerless to stop it.
Know your rights
You have a right to feel safe and to be treated fairly and respectfully. Bullying is a serious problem with serious mental and physical impacts. Bullying can violate many of your human rights including:
- your right to be free from mental, emotional and physical violence;
- your right to education;
- your right to a safe work environment.
People bully others for lots of different reasons: they may have a strong desire to control other people or to look cool in front of others, or even to feel better about themselves. They may bully because it is the only way they know of to deal with their own anger and frustration. Typically, they do not seem to care about other people’s feelings. A significant number of young people who bully others have been bullied themselves. They often do not even realize that what they are doing is wrong.
Does this excuse their behavior? Absolutely not. There are no excuses for bullying, but it can be helpful to understand that people who bully usually have some personal issues going on. In other words, in order for them to change (and to stop their bullying behavior), they need help, too.
What can I do now?
- Think about how you will respond next time you are facing a bullying situation. Just do not respond or try to stand up for yourself.
- Talk to someone about what you are going through.
- It is really important to look after yourself.