November 13 to 17 is Anti-Bullying Week, and is set up to encourage students, parents and teachers to stand up and speak out against a form of behaviour that the NSPCC claims “affects almost all children in some way”.
The charity cites some alarming statistics about bullying in the UK, such as Childline performing 24,000 counselling sessions related to bullying during 2016/17, and more than 16,000 missing school due to bullying fears.
But bullying by no means stops when we leave school; there are countless examples of grown adults experiencing bullying in the home, at the workplace or online, where cyberbullying has given misery-makers a whole new way to torment and upset people.
What’s interesting though is that a lot of bullies don’t really mean to be bullies. Without realising it, they are engaging in behaviour that’s aggressive or intimidating and exerting power over people. Here are four examples, and it’s important to ask ourselves whether we, unwittingly, can sometimes be perpetuators of bullying:
1. Taking banter too far
Among a group of friends, gentle mickey-taking and jokes can help strengthen friendships, and there is even evidence to suggest that it can have benefits in the workplace. If one person is constantly the butt of the jokes though, it can lead to a situation where that person is purely there for the entertainment of the rest of the group. That person may not feel able to express their unhappiness at the situation to the group and may simply put on a brave face, meaning banter gradually develops into bullying.
2. Excluding people
We think of bullying as being verbal and physical abuse, but sometimes, the things we don’t say or do can be just as hurtful. An example could be a segregation among a group of friends, meaning friends start inviting each other out in front of an isolated person, making a passive-aggressive statement to that individual. This person might then feel lonely, confused and self-conscious.
If there’s a genuine reason why a group of friends is experiencing strain, it might be better to talk honestly to that person about the possible reasons for it, remembering why you became friends in the first place and considering how you can overcome any disagreements. Making a point of ignoring them will only make the tension worse.
3. Repeating rumours
We’ve all done it. “Did you hear what Dave did last night?” “You’ll never guess who Jenny is going out with now?” Starting rumours, especially if they’re false, is certainly bullying, but repeating them is helping the bullying cause. We don’t have to be saying things to people’s faces in order to be bullying them.
4. Online harassment and trolling
Adding to the misconception that if it’s not face-to-face, it can’t be bullying, is the growing problem of people who use the internet to torment or ridicule others. There’s often a feeling that the internet is not the real world, and that because you can’t see anybody suffering behind their computer, being a ‘keyboard warrior’ is all a bit of a giggle. Surveys suggest, however, that around half of teens have been bullied online, with so-called ‘revenge porn’ being a particularly distressing and humiliating form of online abuse.
Setting up a fake Facebook account is another common technique used to harass internet users and make fools of them. If this has happened to you, we now have an eBook that can help you trace the person or people behind the account just by following some simple steps.
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