Children can bully in several ways, including direct, indirect and cyberbullying.
Direct bullying is perpetrated face-to-face and is easier to see. Examples of direct bullying include physical and verbal aggression, and intimidation. Physical Aggression includes behaviors such as hitting, kicking, slapping, and destroying property. Verbal Aggression includes behaviors such as name calling, teasing, threatening, verbally aggressive phone calls, hurting another person’s feelings on purpose (talking bad about a person to that person), and insulting another person (putting another person down). Intimidation can be perpetrated through a dirty trick; taking possessions; and coercion.
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Indirect bullying is perpetrated behind someone’s back, and is much more difficult to identify and often is more difficult to remedy. Examples include social and written aggression, and cyber bullying. Social Aggression includes behaviors such as spreading rumors, excluding someone from a group, and giving someone the silent treatment. Written Aggression includes note writing, graffiti, and slam books (slam books are spiral notebooks that are passed around among junior or high school students for each person to contribute written comments about a subject).
Direct and indirect bullying behaviors include relationship bullying, sexual harassment, and bias based bullying.
Relational aggression is a type of social manipulation where tweens and teenagers try to hurt their peers or sabotage their social standing. Relationship bullying includes behaviors such as refusing to talk to someone, spreading lies or rumors about someone, manipulating situations, breaking confidences, ostracizing someone from a group, or making someone do things he or she doesn’t want to do. In general, girls use relational aggression more than boys. Terms such as “mean girls” or “frenemies,” are often used to describe girls who engage in relational bullying, peer pressure and manipulation to control another person. Relational aggression also can carry into adulthood in the form of workplace bullying (Gordon, S., 2016).
Sexual harassment includes comments or actions of a sexual nature which are unwelcome and make the recipient uncomfortable. Examples of sexual harassment include: rumors of a sexual nature, inappropriate touching, grabbing, and comments about someone’s body.
Bias-Based or prejudicial bullying develops when bullying behavior and bias motivation intersect, for example, bullying someone because he or she is gay or lesbian. Gay, lesbian, transgendered and questioning youth are the highest targeted in schools. Racial and ethnic harassment are types of bias-based bullying. Examples of racial and ethnic harassment include comments or actions containing racial or ethnic content which are unwelcome and make the recipient uncomfortable, including ethnic jokes, racial name calling, and racial slurs. This type of bullying can be a crime under the New Jersey Bias Intimidation Act.
Cyberbullying by definition is when someone repeatedly harasses, mistreats, or makes fun of another person online, or while using cell phones or other electronic devices. The person who bullies uses electronic means such as email, instant messaging, group chat exchanges, web site posts, or will send digital message or images to a cellular or personal digital assistant to bully others.
Perpetrated by both boys and girls, cyberbullying is just as serious and can be even more hurtful than face-to-face bullying. It has been the cause of distress for many young people. One may not realize the psychological harm that cyberbullying can cause, but imagine if someone obtained an unflattering or deeply personal photo of you and posted it onto a website for the world to see, or if someone repeatedly posted mean comments or comments of a sexual nature about you on social networking sites, such as Facebook. Imagine how awful it could feel.
Cyberbullying can be more hurtful than face–to-face bullying because of the virtual nature of the attack. Since the child may see the messages while at home on a computer, being bullied at home can take away the place that the child feels safest. It can be harsher because often kids say things online that they wouldn’t say to someone in person. The audience can be quite broad, and kids can send emails making fun of someone to their entire class or school with a few clicks, or post them on a website for the whole world to see (Robinson and Segal, 2016).
The anonymity of cyberbulling allows the person doing the bullying to hide behind screen names and email addresses that don’t identify who they are so a child who is being cyberbullied may not see or identify his or her harasser. Not knowing who is responsible for the bullying can add to that child’s insecurity.
Children who are cyberbullied may be more likely to feel isolated, dehumanized or helpless at the time of the attack because being cyberbullied may seem inescapable. Although it may seem easy to get away from cyberbullying by just getting offline, for some kids not going online takes away one of the major places they socialize. It isn’t as easy to retaliate against cyberbullying (Robinson and Segal, 2016).
Sexting, which is the sending or receiving of sexually-explicit or sexually-suggestive images or video via a cell phone, can also lead to cyberbullying. This is particularly important to know for those who have adolescents in their care.
Some of the effects of bullying include increased feelings of sadness, loneliness, and depression. Children may experience low self-esteem and low confidence. They may become very quiet and want to spend a lot of time in their room, or lose interest in social activities with peers and activities they used to enjoy. This can affect school performance, which may decline, and children may suffer anxiety about going to school, riding the school bus, and they may become truant.
Some children experience changes in sleep patterns, nightmares, bed wetting, health complaints, eating problems, and physical symptoms such as an upset stomach or headache.
Feeling desperate, children who are bullied may resort to carrying weapons or try bribes, such as money or toys, for protection. Some children may start to bully others.
If bullying continues for any length of time, youth are bullied may suffer from chronic depression and post-traumatic disorders, exhibit self-destructive behaviors, and may retaliate with extreme violence.
Bullying has been linked to cases of suicide by youth who were bullied. Although youth who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).
If given immediate help through adult intervention or counseling from a health care professional, children who are bullied are more likely to have limited long-term effects, and not suffer from the trauma of being bullied.
The effects and behaviors of children who bully will vary depending on each individual child. While some may experience anti-social and delinquent behaviors, others may become very successful in society.
Children who bully may demonstrate problem behaviors such as fighting, vandalism, shoplifting, truancy, and dropping out of school. In adolescence they may abuse alcohol, frequently use drugs, and engage in early sexual activity (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016).
If bullying behavior is not addressed and stopped at a young age, children who bully may grow into adolescents or adults who bully. As adults, they may abuse drugs and alcohol; have criminal convictions and traffic citations; abuse their romantic partners, spouses, or children; or bully or harass others in the workplace (U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, 2016). According to Utterly Global, an organization dedicated to anti-bullying, children who were bullies in grades six to nine are 60 percent more likely to have a criminal conviction by the age of 24 (Lloyd, 2014).
Not all youth who bully have obvious behavior problems or engage in rule-breaking activities. Some of them are highly skilled socially and are very charming with teachers and other adults. For this reason, it is often difficult for adults to discover or even imagine that these children engage in bullying behavior (Hazelden Foundation, 2016).
Bullying incidents in schools became so alarming that lawmakers were awakened to the issue, which caused the passing of stronger anti-bullying laws and revised school policies. We will now discuss the New Jersey Anti-bullying Bill of Rights Act and New Jersey school policies for handling bullying in and around school grounds.
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