Ain’t no passing phrase: Stop Bullying

Bullying has been at the forefront of media discussion in recent weeks thanks to the new film “Bully” and stories related to cyber-bullying. Bullying is a very real issue in our society that often gets swept under the carpet. For students, whilst bullying may be a part of ‘kids being kids’ it is important for there to be an open dialogue about bullying so children and adolescents can learn to cope and ‘block’ bullies. Almost everyone experiences bullying at some point as they grow up and these coping techniques are important so that bullying doesn’t have lasting negative effects.

What is bullying?

Bullying is “intentional and repeated negative behaviour by an individual or group” (Headspace:http://www.headspace.org.au/is-it-just-me/find-information/bullying). Bullying can be verbal (e.g. gossip, threats, put-downs, harassment, rumours), violent (e.g. physical or damage to property), cyber (e.g. on Facebook, e-mail, YouTube, Twitter, etc.) or subtle (e.g. exclusion).

Bullying can occur by an individual or a group. It can be one-off but is usually ongoing, and may occur at any age.

Many students believe bullying cannot be stopped and that it is not worth reporting bullying. In fact, there are some actions that can be taken to prevent or stop bullying.

What can you do to make it stop?

Share the problem

Talk to someone you know and trust. They can help you by providing advice, support and having your back in difficult situations. A problem shared is a problem halved – you’ll definitely feel better if you’re not dealing with the problem alone.

If you don’t feel comfortable talking about the problem to a friend, sibling or parent, you can call Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) and talk to someone anonymously.

Stay positive and keep confident

It can be really off-putting to the bully if you don’t react negatively to what is occurring. Perhaps easier said than done, it is important to keep your chin up and not let the bully see that they are upsetting you. If the bully’s actions don’t cause any harm they will be put off and mightn’t continue.

Avoid the bully and stay with others

It might not be possible to avoid the bully all the time, but it is worthwhile keeping away from the bully as
much as possible so they don’t have the opportunity to bully you.

If you stay with friends rather than spending time at school alone, the bully is less likely to be nasty – it’s tough to be nasty when you have people with you to witness it and back you up!

Report the problem

If you don’t feel that you can solve the bullying problem alone, then it is worthwhile reporting the problem to your teachers and parents. They are simply more experienced than us youngsters and will have a better idea of how to solve the problem!

Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying is using technology to bully another person. This can happen by e-mail, Facebook, and Twitter, among other things. Using a mobile phone to bully another person or group is also considered cyberbullying.

Given most adolescents have numerous social media accounts; cyberbullying has been gaining prevalence over
the last few years. Special features include that it can be anonymous, have an infinite audience and can easily be duplicated. Cyberbullying is therefore considered a very serious issue.

Students using social media should be aware that there can be personal and legal implications if they engage in particularly serious cyberbullying. Examples of serious outcomes of cyberbullying include:

  • Suspension or expulsion (e.g. the students at one local college that were suspended for posting threatening Facebook comments about a teacher); or
  • Legal action (e.g. harassment claims).

For students experiencing cyberbullying, some of the above suggestions to ‘block’ the bullying may be effective. Students are also advised to ‘Report’ any bullying posts (which is usually an option below the relevant post), which can result in the perpetrator’s relevant account being de-activated. If cyberbullying is ongoing it can usually be resolved by reporting the problem to school and parents.

If you need more help, you can contact:

Other resources

Bully Trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZYFWUKWl8S0

http://www.hreoc.gov.au/bullying/cyberbullying/index.html

http://www.headspace.org.au/is-it-just-me/find-information/bullying

http://www.bullyingnoway.com.au/

http://www.youthbeyondblue.com/factsheets-and-info/fact-sheet-20-bullying/

http://www.bullying.com.au/

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