Bullying is an intentional negative behaviour that is repeated and is directed against a person who has difficulty defending himself or herself.
The Department published new anti-bullying procedures for all primary and post primary schools at the beginning of the 2013/14 school year. A very important element of the new procedures to help ensure greater transparency for parents and pupils is the requirement for schools to publish their anti-bullying policy on the school’s website and to provide it to the parents association.
What types of bullying are there?
The most common forms of bullying are;
- Verbal: Persistent name-calling, which hurts, insults or humiliates.
- Physical: Pushing, shoving, kicking etc., includes assaults and threats of assault and damage to property.
- Gesture: Threatening gestures or glances that convey threatening messages.
- Exclusion: Socially isolating, excluding or ignoring someone.
- Extortion: Forcing another person to give away their property or money.
How can I tell if someone is being bullied?
Bullying can sometimes go unnoticed if you have not been made aware of it. It can be brushed off, unrecognized, or mixed up as something else. Sometimes students do not want to tell you that they are being bullied.
Some signs that a person is being bullied:
- Visible signs of anxiety and distress.
- Targets may not want to say what is wrong.
- Unexplained bruising and cuts.
- Damage to property.
- Drop in school performance on tests.
- Excuses for not wanting to attend school.
- Lowered confidence/self-esteem.
- Difficulty sleeping.
- Repeated complaints of illness.
- Skipping after school sports.
Some of these signs (for example: Excuses for not wanting to attend school) can be noticed in student’s behaviour as a result of any type of bullying.
If you suspect bullying, do not ignore it. Address it.
Bullying or just messing?
- Are both students happy?
- Did the student being teased ask the person doing the teasing to stop?
- Has this happened more than once?
- Is there an audience?
- Does one student have more power over the other?
If you answered “No” to Q1 and “Yes” to Q2 – Q5 it may be bullying, ask other students like you what they think in the Discussion Forum.
What is a Bystander?
A bystander is anyone who witnesses bullying when it happens. There are several types of bystander;
- Assistants: who help the bully and join in the bullying.
- Re-enforcers: who provide support to the bully
- Outsiders: Stay away not taking sides, providing the bully with silent approval.
- Defenders: Comfort the victim, try to actively stop the bullying.
- Passive defenders: uninvolved but dislike the bullying.
Bystanders often don’t try to help a victim as they may be concerned for their own safety, don’t have the knowledge or skills, fear of being bullied themselves.
What can my school do to prevent bullying?
One of the most effective methods of bullying prevention in a community is to use the ‘Whole School Community Approach’. This involves the entire school community; staff, parents, pupils and other school staff. This approach is about bullying prevention and intervention to reduce bullying. Some examples of this are;
- Awareness days to highlight the types of bullying.
- Increased playground supervision.
- An anti-bullying policy.
Always remember that everyone in a school community has a responsibility to:
- Avoid engaging in bullying behaviour;
- Discourage and intervene when you witness bullying behaviour;
- Assist and give support to those targeted;
- Report incidents.
How can I report Bullying?
You can report bullying in a number of ways, the most effective way is to seek help from an adult.
This could be a teacher, other school staff, parents or an older sibling. The most important part is to ask for help, when you report bullying, you help the person being targeted, the bully and improve the environment where bullying is taking place.