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Bullying pt 6 - The 4 Types of Bullying

Bullying can largely be divided into 4 types of bullying, each working in a different way but in a very similar way.

Physical - This is probably the most obvious form of bullying, and the one that is most likely to get dealt with by the authority figures. This includes hitting, kicking, tripping, throwing things, stealing or destroying a persons possessions, etc.

Physical bullying is the most obvious and the one a lot of people will take the most serious.

Verbal - This is another form of bullying which can be just as damaging to a person emotionally. This includes things like name calling, insults, taunting, homophobic and racist comments, etc.

Verbal bullying is sometimes met with a “Sticks and stones…” sort of thinking, which at times may deter the behaviour, but verbal bullying can definitely cause serious damage to a persons mental and emotional well-being.

Social - Social bullying tends to effect older kids and adults more. This includes things such as gossiping, spreading rumors, leaving people out of group things intentionally and visibly, and otherwise attempting to hurt a persons social reputation and relationships.

Social bullying affects middle schools, high schools and work places. Social bullying can be very hard to deal with at times, and in some cases attempting to disprove or suppress things can lead to the opposite effect.

Because it attempts to draw from a herd mentality it can be very hard to deal with at times.

Cyber bullying - This is very closely related to social bullying, and could even be considered a extension of it. However the internet has allowed for anonymity, permanence and at a potential scale that doesn't occur in “real world” interactions. Posts online can spread and follow a person anywhere and practically indefinitely.


Bullying pt 5 - An Under-Reported Problem

Bullying is something that happens in schools far more then it is reported.

The thing to remember is bullying is a "power" behaviour. It is the bully making the victim feel powerless in order to raise themselves up.

As such victims often don't like talking about it, they may feel ashamed or embarrassed. Bullies often target things perceived as flaws in the victim, and talking about it would be talking about their own perceived flaws and weaknesses.

They may also be concerned that talking about it will make it worse, that they will be then bullied for being a tattle-tale or a snitch. That they will be perceived as being weak for seeking out help.

They may also fear losing privileges if they do report it. For example that telling adults about online bullying may cause them to lose access to online activities.

The important thing is to keep in mind that bullying might happen and go completely unreported. Bullying is a problem, but it is not one that can't be dealt with, however kids often need help in doing so and it is up to the adults to watch for signs and keep open and non-judgemental lines of communication.

And remember, bullying is a power and control behaviour. Solving it involves giving power back to the kid, or rather reminding them that they still have it and helping them use it. The best solutions are when they have options and make the decisions on their own. This doesn't mean don't help, but it does mean that they should be involved in the solution and not have more power and control taken from them in an attempt to solve it.


Bullying pt 4 - The "CALM" Rule

How a child deals with bully like behaviour will help effect how much bullying they are likely to be a target of.  Responding to bully like behaviour in a "CALM" way can help shut down bullying early and prevent them from becoming a target.

CALM in this case stands for "be Calm, be Assertive, Look them in the eyes and Mean it" and can provide a basis for teaching children how to interact with a bully.

Be Calm - Bullies feed off reactions.  If they are able to get you worked up or get a reaction out of you they are successful.  Picking on someone that doesn't get a reaction is noun to them and they are more likely to move on.  When you get nervous you tend to talk faster, so practice speaking slow and be mindful of how you talk.

Be Assertive - Bullying is a power game, it's an attempt to knock someone else down in order to feel in control and powerful.  Being assertive shows them that you are still in control.

Look them in the eye - similar to being assertive, bullying is about balance of power.  Looking someone in the eye is one of our primal power plays.  Practice looking someone in eyes, staring contests are a common children game, but they also teach how to appear confident.

Mean it - Don't say things you don't mean, and mean what you say.  If you say "back off or I will do X", it needs to be something that you can follow through on.  If it isn't, and they call you on it you lose credibility.


Bullying pt 3 - Kids need more then one circle

One of the simplest defences to bullying is making sure kids have more then one circle of peers.

They have one at school, which is their primary one.  It's one they spend 10 months of the year with,  5-days a week, 6.5 hours a day.  If this circle turns toxic for them at all it can be easy for them to think it is them that is the problem, at least if it is the only circle of peers they are a part of.

Kids that participate in year round activities 2-3 times a week have a built in buffer.  If school turns they have a place where they can fit in and be a part of a peer group that hasn't turned against them.  This can help keep them from thinking they are the problem, and help them bounce back from things in other environments.

Confidence is really the key to beating bullying, both in the victim and the bully.  Unfortunately confidence is sometimes slow to build and easy to destroy.  Having more then one circle provides a safety net to bullying behaviour destroying confidence.  Once that confidence starts to crack it is far easier to end up a target of bullying, or even becoming the bully in an attempt to rebuild it through knocking others down.


Bullying pt 2: On Fighting Back

Fighting back is a often debated aspect of dealing with a bully.

The case against it is that it can lead to escalation, making the situation worse for the bully.  The bully is often larger, sometimes multiple bullies, and with the possibility of a weapon being carried at older ages can prevent a real threat.

Telling a scared child to simply hit the bully in the face could very easily make the situation worse.

That said the right to self-defence is something that should never be taken away from a child, and in some cases may be the only remaining choice at a given time.

Children should be taught to use other options whenever possible, and not to escalate the situation whenever possible.

So step 1 should be tell the adults in charge.  Same as in the adult world, we attempt to bring in law enforcement or security when there is a problem.  Taking matters into their own hands when not necessary can escalate a situation.

The next thing they need to try and do, which can be hard for anyone, is to ignore the problem and not respond.  Bullies feed off of the reactions, if they get upset or worked up the bully was successful and will continue.  If they leave the bully hanging with deflection or ignoring them the bully will end up looking silly and hopefully move on.

But when a situation becomes an assault and the adults in charge are unable to, or unavailable at the time the right to self-defence of any person should never be taken away.

But without giving them the tools to do so is unfair to the victim.  Martial arts training can definitely be one avenue to provide those tools, as well as provide the confidence to avoid the situation in the first place.

The other problem with a "fight back" strategy is not all bullying is physical, so much of it is done through words, both in person and nowadays through the internet.  "Defend yourself" doesn't work quite as well when the bully is behind a screen or across the play ground.

Physical self-defence skills are a part of the answer, but not the whole answer.  The confidence from having them can do a lot to prevent being a victim in the first place, and be prepared to act in defence when the bullying is in the form of assault, but kids need more tools then just boxing and wrestling.