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Bullying Awareness: Students

What is bullying and what is not bullying?

Bullying involves an imbalance of power where one person uses their power and control to bully victims who may have a more difficult time defending themselves. It involves intent to cause harm and distress to a victim, and it is an action that is repeated to the same person over and over again by the same individual or groups of individuals.

Bullying comes in many different forms including physical, social, verbal, and cyberbullying.

  • Physical bullying involves shoving, pushing, hitting, and throwing with the intent to cause harm.
  • Social bullying involves spreading rumors, trying to isolate someone from others, and excluding a person on purpose.
  • Verbal bullying involves teasing a person, calling them names, or threatening them.
  • Cyberbullying is a newer form of bullying that is initiated over the internet, on cellular phones, or other digital devices. It can include sending cruel, humiliating messages; creating a website with the sole purpose of making fun of a person; posting pictures online with the intent of embarrassing a person; accessing a person’s email and sending embarrassing material to others; and taking a picture and sending it to others without the person’s consent.

How do you protect yourself from being bullied?

To protect yourself from bullying it is important to understand how a bully thinks. A bully looks for differences and weakness, so if you understand differences and do not show weakness then you can protect yourself from being bullied. Let the bully know that everyone is different and being different does not bother you. If a bully were to make fun of your red hair, the way you talk, or anything else, just smile, agree, and leave them alone.

A bully thrives off of getting a reaction and seeing someone get upset. If a bully knows they can get to you, it will encourage them to continue the behavior. Since this is what they want, the key is to give the bully the opposite – try not to show it even if you are feeling upset, angry, or sad. Instead, do something unexpected. Laugh and give them the opposite of what they want.

If you are bullied it is important to tell someone whether it be a parent, teacher, or anyone else you feel comfortable telling. Remember not to be afraid to talk to someone if you are being bullied as much of the problem lies with the bully and not with you.

If you are being bullied on Facebook, what can you do?

  • Report as abuse
  • Delete the person from your friends list
  • Block the person entirely
  • Ask the person to stop
  • Ignore the other person
  • Talk to someone you trust
  • Talk to police
  • Ask your parents to talk to their parents
  • Call Kids Help Phone – 1-800-668-6868

What are the repercussions of bullying?

Bullying has serious short term and long term effects and consequences on those who are victimized. These include having a higher likelihood of developing anxiety and depression; changes in sleeping and eating habits; decreased levels of self-esteem; and the loss of interests in activities that one had previously enjoyed.

Bullying also negatively affects perceptions of school-aged children towards their school environment. Being victimized by a bully is associated with decreased academic achievement and a higher likelihood of skipping class or dropping out of school altogether.

Children who are bullied are much more likely to have suicidal thoughts or ideations, and as a result of being victimized are more likely to act out violently when experiencing distress.

Being victimized by a bully during childhood and adolescence has long term consequences, as much of the effects of bullying extend into adulthood, turning into a lifelong battle that more can be done to prevent.

Short-term Effects:

  • Lower self-esteem
  • Headaches
  • Stomach aches
  • Depression
  • Illness
  • Absenteeism
  • Anxiety
  • Eating disorders
  • Sleeping problems
  • Constant fear in school
  • Drop in grades

Long-term Effects:

  • Severe depression
  • Suicidal thoughts
  • Self-destructive behavior
  • Suicide
  • Alcohol or substance abuse

It is important to note that the bully also faces short-term and long-term consequences from initiating the bullying. Some of the short-term effects include difficulty making friendships, academic difficulties, and a high risk of alcohol or substance abuse. Some long-term effects include an increased likelihood of being convicted of a crime by the age of 24, increased dependency on drugs, increased likelihood of spousal or child abuse as an adult, and a difficulty in developing and maintaining long-term relationships.

Can my parents be bullies?

Bullying can occur amongst adults and in different social environments including the workplace. That is why many places have rules and guidelines to follow to remind adults of when their behavior is becoming inappropriate.

Where can I go if I’m bullied?

  • Talk to a teacher or someone in your school who you trust and would be comfortable talking to. The school can’t help you if they don’t know about it.
  • Tell your parents. Some children are ashamed to tell their parents but they want to be involved in your life and are there to help you if you ever have any issues. Chances are they have been through it before and will help you deal with it.
  • Tell a friend or another student you trust. Ask them for advice or just tell them how you feel so you do not feel alone.
  • Check out the links below for more online tips and services to help you deal with bullying.

How do I know if I am a bully?

  • There’s a classmate who you have repeatedly shoved, punched, or pushed.
  • You had a friend or classmate hurt someone who you didn’t like.
  • You have spread a nasty rumor about someone online or offline.
  • You have purposely left someone out from hanging out with you and your friends, from playing with you, playing sports with you, or any other group activity.
  • You have called people names, made fun of their appearance, or the way they dress or act.
  • You made a website to make fun of someone who you didn’t like.
  • You harassed a person during a live chat.
  • You sent offensive graphic material to someone.
  • You have been part of a group who has done these things, even if you were only part of the crowd.

Many people have done one or more of the above, which are all forms of bullying. Bullying is a serious problem and if you have realized that you are a bully there are ways that you can have a more positive impact and become a solution to bullying rather than being a part of it in a negative way.

Do people bully because their parents are bullies?

There are many reasons why young people bully others and the influence of parents on their children’s bullying can be either positive or negative. In many cases it is important for parents to be made aware of the signs that their child is bullying. While the parents of some bullies may have also been bullies, the parents of bullies could also have been victims of bullying just as easily.

Is saying anything mean being a bully?

Saying something negative to a person about their religion, race, appearance, orientation, or other individual characteristics is bullying. Bullying means there is an intention to do harm to someone, and verbal bullying can be very traumatizing for an individual even if it only occurs once. Even if you do not believe that what you said is ‘mean’, people can perceive the situation much differently, so simple teasing can even be considered bullying if the victim is distraught by it.

Why do people bully me because of where I live?

Sometimes people are bullied for no apparent reason. Other times people are bullied because they are different in some way, be it the color of their skin, the way they talk, or the place they live. It could be as simple as being where you live is different from where the bully lives, and for the bully this can be a “reason” to give you a hard time about it. Since no two people are alike it isn’t a very justifiable or valid reason, and reflects more on the bully than on you.

My friends tease me does this mean they are bullying me?

Teasing occurs when you playfully poke fun at each other and neither party feels hurt. Everyone may have a good laugh but it is all in fun. Most importantly, playful teasing is not directed at someone’s difference, such as religion, ethnicity, speech or appearance.

Bullying however is a behavior that is meant to intentionally harm another person. It involves in imbalance of power and is an aggressive and negative behavior. If someone says something to you and you end up being upset or hurt from it then no longer is it teasing but instead an act of bullying.

How can I stop others who bully?

Everyone needs help from time to time. It is easy to stand and watch someone else get bullied, but chances are if it were you, you would want someone to step in and help!

If you see someone getting bullied there are several options that you can consider:

  • Stand up for them: This can embarrass and surprise the bully to the point where they leave the victim alone in the future.
  • Don’t become involved in the bullying: Walk away if the bully tries to get you to help them bully.
  • Help stop the rumor: If someone tells you a rumor, let it end with you and don’t pass it on to anyone else. You can even say you are not interested in hearing it.
  • Tell an adult.
  • Offer help to make sure the victim is okay.

Can it be a joke?

No. Bullying involves intentionally harming another person and is a very serious issue. Playful teasing is different and involves playfully poking fun with a friend and neither side is hurt. It is all in good fun and is not directed at someone’s appearance, beliefs, or any other important aspects.

Testimonials – Real Life Examples of Cyberbullying

  1. A group of girls at his school had been taunting Alan through IM, teasing him about his small size, daring him to do things he couldn’t do. They dared him to commit suicide. He discussed this with them. The girls thought it was a big joke. One afternoon, Alan got his grandfather’s shotgun, loaded it, and killed himself. He had deleted everything from his computer, except for one message, “The only way to get the respect you deserve is to die.”
  2. Unknown middle school students created a website all about Raymond. On this site, they posted Raymond stories, Raymond jokes, and Raymond cartoons. They posed questions about Raymond’s sex life. They invited anyone visiting the site to submit their own comments and had an email link for people to send comments directly to Raymond.
  3. Sitting around the computer with her friends at a Friday night sleepover, Judy asked, “Who don’t we like? Who can we mess with?” They chose Sara, who was always trying to fit into the group. Sure enough, Sara was online. So Judy started IM-ing with her – with all of the other girls providing suggestions. “Ask her who she likes best, Jack or Nathan,” they urged. The next Monday, the girls were passing Sara’s IM at school.
  4. Greg, an obese high school student, was changing in the locker room after gym class. Matt took a covert picture of him with his cell phone camera. Within seconds, he sent it to classmates. Soon the picture was flying around to cell phones at school. By the time Greg left the locker room, all the students were laughing at him.
  5. Joanne saw some girls bullying Jessica at school and reported the bullying to the office. By the time Joanne got home from school she had 35 angry messages in her email box and even more angry text-messages on her cell phone. Most of the messages are anonymous. Some appeared to be from strangers living in other parts of the country. Now, on a daily basis, Joanne gets many email and text messages using vulgar and insulting language.
  6. Sara watched closely as Emma logged on to her school Internet account and was able to determine Emma’s password. Later, Sara logged on to Emma’s account and sent a scathingly cruel message to Emma’s boyfriend, Alex.
  7. An anonymous group of students from school have created a web site. The web site contains partially nude images of the girls, apparently taken in the girl’s locker room. The web site offers visitors the opportunity to post comments about each girl. Many derogatory comments have been posted, including some that are sexually explicit.
  8. When Annie broke up with her boyfriend, Sam, he sent her many angry, threatening, pleading messages. When Annie blocked his email account, Sam continued to send messages either by email or text message. When Annie still refused to get back with him, Sam posed as Annie in a sex-oriented discussion group and posted a sexually suggestive picture Annie had given him, along with her email address and cell phone number.
  9. After he beat another boy in an online game, several of the boy's friends threatened Michael in the game site chat room. "We’ll make you pay for this." Now when Michael tries to play on the site, a group of other players gang up on him and restrict his activities so that he cannot participate.

More Testimonials

"If someone has ever said or did anything to you online that made you feel sad, please give an example of what was done and how it made you feel

  1. “They called me a fag and it made me feel crappy” (Male, 13 years old).
  2. “While I was on Facebook I was chatting to a person (friend) who was calling me mean things which made me really upset and angry” (Female, 13 years old).
  3. “While I was on MSN one day this guy in my class started calling me very mean names and I did not appreciate it and it made me feel useless” (Female, 13 years old).
  4. “Someone said I was dumb” (Male, 14 years old).
  5. “Called me a bitch, I disliked it, but it didn’t make me all that sad, I get that a lot” (Female, 15 years old).
  6. “Someone said something it caused my parents not to trust me and it feels like I can’t trust anyone and nobody trusts me” (Female, 14 years old).
  7. “Someone once said no one would be my friend because I was too tall” (Female, 14 years old).
  8. “They called me names because of a guy” (Female, 13 years old).
  9. “People that I barely know and never talk to comment on my Facebook status, basically just joking around with their friends, saying things like “you’re a fag” and although I know they are probably joking, it annoys me” (Male, 14 years old).
  10. “They have put me down trying to start fights and it made me feel bad” (Female, 14 years old).
  11. “Someone told me to go on weight watchers, it made me feel fat and not good about myself” (Female, 13 years old).
  12. “My used-to-be friend turned out to be not all that great. He started out with pleasant chit-chat then it became more insulting. It made me feel alone and that I couldn’t do anything” (Male, 13 years old).
  13. “Calling me fat and a pig has made me feel mad and upset” (Female, 12 years old).
  14. “It made me sad and scared when someone sent a threat to kill me. I told my mom and it was brought to the police” (Female, 15 years old).
  15. “One person told me I was the fattest and ugliest girl at the school. It made me feel like I didn’t know my own identity” (Female, 12 years old).
  16. “I posted a picture on Facebook and someone commented that I was emo” (Female, 14 years old).
  17. “Somebody told me I looked like a retard on Facebook, it made me mad” (Male, 14 years old).
  18. “Well someone got mad at me because I got in a fight with his brother then he told me to f**k off and to go cry to my mom when he knew my mom died” (Male, 15 years old).
  19. “Someone said that I have no friends and that I’m poor which didn’t make me feel well” (Male, 14 years old).
  20. “Someone sent me an instant message saying I was ugly and smelt bad. It made me feel bad but I kept it to myself” (Female, 14 years old).
  21. “Someone in my class made a piczo site about me and some other friends. This made me feel sad” (Male, 12 years old).
  22. “I was tricked when I was 12 years old into giving someone a number on the computer that gave access to it. He then hacked my computer and I had to have my grandpa go to his house and talk to his dad about it, which we found out that the dad was immature and was part of it” (Female, 14 years old).
  23. “Three girls in my class posted a picture on Facebook talking about me and saying my face is dirty because of the pimples on my face but they are not my fault because I’m allergic to my hair” (Female, 14 years old).
  24. “They said they wanted me to show my privates” (Male, 13 years old).