Tuesday 11 June 2019

Let's Talk About ..... Bullying

We need to have a yarn. About Bullying.

This is something that we have always had to deal with in superhero headquarters. O has always been subjected to bullying from the moment she started school at the age of almost four years old. During her first two years of school, there was one child who was relentless in seeking out O at school and physically backing her into a corner to verbally lash out at her. It got to the point that O would stop wanting to use the toilets at school because this other child would chase her into the toilets whenever O needed to go to the bathroom. When we took this issue up with the school we were asked "are you sure O is telling the truth?"

Excuse me? We changed schools soon after this.

However O's very first experience of bullying was at a playgroup that we attended when she was roughly 18 months old. At this playgroup a group of other 18 month and two year olds would corner her in the play area and physically lash out at her. At that point in time, she was physically unable to defend herself so I would step in. We stopped attending that playgroup after a month as the other children were relentless in cornering and lashing out at O. The parents of the other children would always respond with "oh they're just being kids" and "they're just working out the pecking order." The other parents would sit and laugh at the antics of their own children, while my daughter would be begging to go home.

No. No they're not. It is parent attitudes such as "they're just being kids" that perpetuate instances of bullying. So from that day forward, we've been conscious of ensuring that O and L know what bullying is. We want both O and L to have the power to stand up for not only themselves but also their friends.

So what is the definition of bullying?

In the dictionary, the word bully is defined as ...

"someone who uses superior strength or influence, to intimidate (someone) 
typically to force them to do something."

The dictionary also states that bullying is to "hound, harass and intimidate."

Put simply bullying is unwanted and aggressive behaviour that involves a real or a perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated over time, must be aggressive and must include ...
  • an imbalance of power. This could be through the use of physical strength to control or harm another person. It could also be through intimidation of another person; and
  • there must be repetition of the behaviour. The behaviour must occur more than once or have the potential to occur more than once.
There are some train of thoughts that bullying only includes instances in which an individual is physically attacked by another but this is definitely not the case. Bullying can also include making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone verbally, excluding someone from a group on purpose and many others.

Verbal bullying can include things like teasing, name calling, taunting someone and making verbal threats.

Social bullying is another form of bullying and occurs when someone is left out on purpose or when someone tells others not to be friends with a particular person as well as spreading rumours about a person.

It is important to remember that bullying is not simply disliking someone. However this can, unfortunately, easily lead to bullying.

Bullying occurs for many reasons, in fact there are unfortunately too many reasons to mention. It could be that the person doing the bullying has low self esteem, they could be angry or unhappy within themselves. The bully may have been subjected to bullying as a child and they unfortunately have not broken the cycle. 

The bully may want to be seen as cool or want to be one of popular people at school. The bully may just want to fit in. The bully may have issues out of school. The bully may think it is amusing seeing other people suffer. The bully may just be copying others. And finally the bully may not have respect for others who are different from themselves.

Many children who bully others, do it so that they feel stronger or better than the other child. And unfortunately many children who are bullies do not see anything wrong with what they are doing. Especially when the bullying is not physical.

A lot of verbal bullying issues comes back to the perception that words don't hurt.  And this attitude, unfortunately comes from the attitudes of adults who believe that because "they are just words," the effects of the verbal bullying are not long lasting.

As a child, a teenager and as a young adult I was subjected to bullying. It was never physical. It was always verbal and social bullying and let me tell you, the effects are very much long lasting.

The effects of "just words" can cause physical and psychological harm. And the harm caused by the words is not always obvious.

Someone subjected to verbal bullying can feel very alone, they can feel stressed, unsafe, afraid, angry and ashamed about themselves and they can also be left feeling very rejected.

I've said it many times before, and I will keep saying it.

Words hurt.

Words cut deeply and leave wounds that you can not see. Words hurt in places that are incredibly difficult to heal. Words don't go away.

Words eat away at you and your mind will replay the words over and over until you start to believe them.

Words, at times, leave deeper wounds than those that are left when you are physically bullied. Words can have long term very serious repercussions.

In all instances of bullying there may be bystanders in the immediate area. These people may not agree with what the bully is doing BUT they may feel afraid for their own safety if they speak up and defend the person being bullied for fear of being targeted themselves. In many cases these bystanders also become bullies.

And children who bully others, quite often grow up to be adults who believe that bullying other adults is okay.

We talk often with O and L about what they can do if they are being bullied or if their friends are being bullied. And I urge you to do the same with your children. 

Teach them that bullying is wrong. Teach them that words do hurt. Teach them that being different is a good thing. Teach them that standing up for others makes them strong.

Let's start a movement to end the cycle of bullying.


  1. I hate bullies - they are damaged souls who need to be voted off the island! Thanks for the reminder ♥️ ♥️ Interested in doing collabs? xx

    1. You're most welcome. Am definitely interested in a collab!


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