Debunking the myths of bullying
By Jenny (coolkid98)
Most people will experience bullying at some point during their lives and will know someone who has previously been bullied or who is currently being bullied. There are many myths about bullying which can make it hard for those being bullied to reach out to get help to deal with it. According to research conducted by the NSPCC 46% of children and young people in the UK say they have been bullied at school at some point in their lives. [Source.]
Myth: Bullying is physical contact only. Fact: The main types of bullying are physical, verbal and cyber. Bullying is unfair, aggressive or threatening behavior towards an individual that is regularly repeated, and can be classified as indirect or direct. Direct bullying can include physical attacks, while indirect bullying is non-violent behavior that can include spreading rumors or name-calling.
Myth: Bullying can only occur in schools. Fact: Bullying typically takes place wherever there is a large group of people. Although bullying is a significant problem in schools, it is also a problem in any community, including the workplace and other public areas. Bullying can even occur through electronic devices and this is referred to as cyber-bullying.
Myth:Bullying is a part of growing up and it will make those who are bullied become stronger. Fact: Bullying can do the opposite of this; it can destroy an individual's self-esteem and confidence. In some cases, it can lead to self-harm, depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues, or even suicide. It can make the individual feel alone, and can lead to withdrawal from home, school or work life. The phrase, "Sticks and stones can break my bones but words can never hurt me", is not true as the effect of name-calling can last a lifetime, and may hurt whenever they are remembered.
Myth: Reporting bullying makes it worse. Fact: Reporting bullying enables individuals to be protected, as it allows for others to monitor the situation, and therefore prevent any further incidents. Bullying is about power, and by not reporting it, the perpetrator is given the message that they can get away with it. Reporting the bullying also gives the individual the opportunity to have somebody to talk to about the situation, which can help them deal with the bullying.
Myth:If someone stands up for someone else being bullied, they will get bullied too. Fact: Most young adults and children are educated to know that bullying is wrong, but they might not stick up for someone for fear of being bullied themselves. Also, it's instinct that we disapprove of others' marginalisation, and therefore disapprove of bullying. It is suggested that if one sees an incident where someone is being bullied, they should not laugh or encourage the person, but instead show disapproval and tell the person to stop. However, this should only be done when it is safe to do so. Onlookers are also advised to tell a trusted adult such as a teacher or parent, as soon as possible, who can take action against the bullying and prevent it from happening again.
Myth:Those who bully are popular or think highly of themselves. Fact: People can bully others for a variety of reasons; it could be because they feel sorry for themselves, or due to the fact that they feel powerless in their own lives and believe bullying will give them control through someone else. Other reasons people may start to bully can include family issues or a perceived lack of attention or praise.
Myth: Bullying is the victim's fault. Fact: Bullying is never the victim's fault, nor is anyone bullied because they are weak. Victims of bullying never deserve it, either. In the majority of cases, those who have been targeted are kind, honest, sensitive and respectful people. Many celebrities have been bullied when they were younger, for example, Prince Harry was bullied in school for having red hair; he was also teased about it in the Army.
Myth: Ignoring the bullying will help make it stop. Fact: In reality, it can actually make situations much worse, as the bully gets the impression that the victim is unable to do anything about the bullying. If anyone is being bullied, or knows someone who is being bullied, they should report it immediately to an appropriate person. It is a good idea to keep a log of bullying, including the times and the location where the bullying took place. If it was cyber-bullying, print off the evidence and give it to the local police force or another appropriate person. Although all digital communications can be recovered, evidence of cyber-bullying should never be deleted in an effort to make it go away or to forget what was said.
Myth: Bullying is easy to spot. Fact: Those who bully can be selective as to where they choose to bully, and will do it where there are limited witnesses. For example, in a school it may take place in an empty corridor or in another area where responsible adults aren't supervising. Those who bully can also be extremely good at hiding the fact that they are bullying someone; this is why it is important to report any incidents.
There are many types of bullying, which can take place anywhere and aren't just limited to schools or the workplace. It's important to remember that bullying is never the victim's fault and if bullying is observed, the victim should be supported if it's safe. All bullying should be reported as soon as possible. If you are unsure about whom you can talk to about bullying, it is suggested to utilise the Who can help me? thread.