Bullying? What is Bullying Anyway?

Bullying has been identified as appearing in three main forms: Physical Bullying including gesturing; Social Bullying including E-Bullying (electronic bullying in all forms), Extortion, and Exclusion; Verbal Bullying. Naturally all of these forms of bullying bring with them different behaviours and some different methods of identification, but their adverse affects are universal.

Physical Bullying can include, but is not limited to, pushing, shoving, hitting and other forms of assault, and sexual assault. With Physical Bullying there are in many cases physical signs that are noticeably apparent and this form of bullying results in the most physical harm, and in some cases, even death. The National School Safety Centre has identified behaviours to look for when assessing the potential for violence in a student, or known bully. Physical gesturing can be intrusive, explicit, and intimidating as gestures carry with them so many meanings, with meanings often changing with cultures, and very quickly this can escalate into violence and other forms of bullying.

As children of the information age our students are exposed to, and have become adept with, a variety of ever-changing technology. With this comes a new form of Social Bullying by way of the internet and cellular phones, known as Cyber, or E-Bullying. Because the use of these tools is so prevalent, it often becomes an overlooked area, and one in which it is extremely easy for things to spiral out of control. There have been numerous reported cases amongst today‘s youth where bullying through instant messages has led to violence, self harm in all of its forms, and suicide. The ability of most cell phones to film videos and snap pictures, and the ease in which this information can be spread, is alarming and holds the potential to be so severely damaging that it can maim the victim for years to follow.

Like other forms of Social Bullying, E-Bullying can lead to isolation and alienation, social violence, peer pressure, and the need to conform to groups and people with whom a student may not typically choose to socialize with in an attempt to ensure personal safety. By adhering to strict no cell phone policies within the school and outlining clear consequences for infraction, as well as through parental diligence, we can make steps towards preventing tragedy of this nature from affecting our children and our students.

Perhaps the most common form of bullying that occurs throughout the course of a student‘s life is Verbal Bullying. Aside from teasing and name calling, Verbal Bullying includes defamation, rumour spreading, antagonizing, racist and sexist remarks, and can be highly personal or sexual in nature, with no area of a child‘s life or esteem untargeted.

According the Ontario Ministry of Education, Bullying has been defined as:

"Bullying is typically a form of repeated, persistent, and aggressive behaviour directed at an individual or individuals that is intended to cause (or should be known to cause) fear and distress and/or harm to another person's body, feelings, self-esteem, or reputation.  Bullying occurs in a context where there is a real or perceived power imbalance." 

Source:  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/extra/eng/ppm/144.html   

It is thought that children are subjected to up to 213 verbal attacks a week, which equates to up to 30 per day.