Understand Bullying

Yarning about bullying

The cycle of bullying can be hard to break. Yamaji parents and carers whose kids are bullied at school told us they were bullied too. Everyone said they wanted help to stop the bullying cycle from continuing. Many kids get involved in bullying at some time during their lives – they may be bullied themselves, they may bully someone else, or they may see a friend being bullied.

Yamaji wangi

‘Lots of kids doing the bullying are bullied themselves and also have parents who bully or are bullied.’

 

‘Lots of jealousy stems back to the family – it’s just carried on from parents who are feuding.’

 

What is bullying?

Sometimes people think bullying is only ‘big kids on little kids’ – when an older or bigger kid picks on a younger or smaller kid. It is common for people to call bullying between kids the same age ‘just teasing’ and for them to think this is not really bullying.

Yamaji wangi

‘Bullying is big kids on little kids’.

‘Bullying means picking on someone for fun’.

‘Bullying starts as teasing and leads to more serious bullying’.

 

Bullying is when a person or group of people deliberately uses their power over another person again and again to make that person feel upset, angry or afraid.

Deliberate – The person or group doing the bullying does so on purpose.

Repeated – The person or group doing the bullying does so regularly (again and again).

More powerful – The person or group doing the bullying is more physical or popular (more friends or influence on other kids) and uses this to frighten or upset the person being bullied.

Mean – The person or group doing the bullying wants to hurt or upset the person being bullied.

 

Things to think about

o   Bullying often begins when a person is ‘picked on’ by another person or by a group of people. The person being picked on can’t stop the bullying from happening; often there is nobody around to help or the person being bullied is afraid to tell anyone.

o   One way to stop bullying is to help the kids doing the bullying to understand how much bullying hurts.

o   When kids who bully know that someone will stop them if they are seen bullying, they are more likely to stop.

o   Some Yamaji kids referred to bullying as teasing or terrorising.

o   Bullying can range from teasing to name-calling, from carrying yarns to threats of intimidation or actual physical aggression. What is considered teasing by one kid might be considered intimidation by another kid. The actions and effects of bullying can vary from kid to kid.

 

Yamaji wangi

‘Bullying just happens at school because that is where our kids are … it is a meeting place.’

 

Bullying mostly happens when kids hang out together. It can happen at school; it can also happen after school when kids hang out or are on their way home. Sometimes bullying happens in the classroom but there it is usually the verbal kind, such as saying mean or hurtful things, making faces at someone, or making nasty and sarcastic comments.

Types of bullying

Bullying is when the following things are done again and again to someone who can’t stop it from happening.

Physical bullying

Smashing, hitting, pinching, biting, pushing, pulling, shoving, slapping, punching, strangling, kicking, intentional bumping, tripping, scratching, throwing things, ripping and double banking.

Body language

Bullying can be done by gestures:
‘It can just be a dirty look.’
‘It might be a sly smile to mean that something is wrong.’

Verbal bullying

•    ‘What’s your go?’

•    running someone down

•    carrying yarns

•    calling someone names

•    chipping

•    jarring

•    teasing someone in a mean and hurtful way

•    being sarcastic in a hurtful way

 

Threatening

•    telling someone you’re going to get your family involved, like your brothers and sisters, cousins, parents, carers, nana, aunties or uncles

•    making someone feel scared of you

•    telling someone you are going to hurt them

•    yarning to get someone into trouble

•    forcing someone to do your schoolwork or homework for you

•    forcing someone to break the law like stealing or damaging someone’s stuff

•    teasing someone in a mean and hurtful way

•    being sarcastic in a hurtful way

Property abuse

•    taking someone else’s stuff

•    breaking or damaging someone else’s belongings

•    stealing someone else’s money

Emotional bullying

•    getting kids into trouble or wrong situations

•    ignoring someone or keeping them out of group conversations (known as exclusion)

•    making fun of someone’s appearance or body odour

•    trying to get others to dislike someone or not have anything to do with them

•    carrying yarns about someone

•    trying to get other kids to harm someone

Sexual bullying

•    touching someone when they don’t want to be

•    pressuring someone to do things that they don’t want to do with their body or with someone else’s body

•    making sexual comments about the way someone looks or behaves

•    trying to get others to dislike someone or not have anything to do with them

•    carrying yarns about someone

•    trying to get other kids to harm someone

Racist bullying

•    making racial comments about someone and/or their family, such as telling someone they aren’t Aboriginal enough or that they’re trying to be or act ‘white’

•    making rude gestures or jokes about someone’s religion

•    making comments about the way someone’s features look compared to others (e.g. big lips, curly hair)

Cyber bullying

•    uploading videos of other people on social network internet sites, such as Bebo, MySpace, YouTube and Facebook

•    sending harassing or abusive emails

•    Making prank or abusive phone calls

•    sending someone offensive texts (SMS) or multimedia messages (MMS) by mobile phone

•    carrying yarns through chat rooms, by email, by SMS and MMS, or on Twitter

•    posting insulting messages in chat rooms and on social network sites

Being picked on

Being picked on is part of being bullied. Sometimes it’s hard to work out why kids pick on other kids. It could be because:

•    someone is thought to be winyarn

•    someone is in the wrong place at the wrong time

•    someone is different (taller, fatter, darker or lighter skinned, smarter, weaker or slower)

•    someone seems easy to frighten or upset

•    someone is smaller or younger

Asking for help

About half of all kids who are bullied don’t tell anyone. Kids often think that talking about bullying is ‘dobbing’.

Tell your kids that asking for help when they need it is not ‘dobbing’. ‘Dobbing’ is when a person is trying to get attention or get someone else into trouble.

Yamaji wangi

‘Our kids don’t usually tell anyone about bullying because they think no one can or will help.’

Most bullying is not reported because kids:

•    don’t think it is bullying

•    don’t want to be seen as winyarn

•    think they will get picked on more

•    don’t know who to talk to

•    don’t know how to get help

•    think telling someone about it won’t help

•    think it is embarrassing to admit you are being bullied

•    think nothing can be done to make it stop

‘Asking for help’ is when someone feels a situation is out of their control or they are unable to deal with it alone. When someone is asking for help they are trying to protect themselves or someone else. Asking for help is always okay.

Looking out for bullying

We all hope our kids will tell us as soon as there is a bullying issue. But this doesn’t always happen. Just because they don’t tell us about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. We have to watch out for the signs of bullying.

What do I look for?

We all hope our kids will tell us as soon as there is a bullying issue. But this doesn’t always happen. Just because they don’t tell us about it doesn’t mean it isn’t happening. We have to watch out for the signs of bullying.

The following list shows common signs of bullying:
(please note that most kids show these behaviours at times, but it may be a sign of bullying if they are happening often)

•    not wanting to go to school, missing school

•    saying they have headaches or stomach aches

•    damage or loss of things such as clothing, shoes, property

•    lots of injuries, such as bruises or cuts

•    not wanting to talk or go out and not wanting to say why

•    trouble sleeping, wetting the bed or having nightmares

•    looking generally unhappy, miserable, moody and acting up

•    not keen to eat or play properly

•    having no friends to spend time with

Who is involved in bullying?

the person or people doing the bullying

the person being bullied

the people who see or know that it is happening (bystanders)

 

 

 

Bystander graphic adapted from Erceg and Cross (2004). Friendly Schools and Families Project: Classroom Teaching & Learning, Handbook Level 5. Child Health Promotion Research Unit: Edith Cowan University, Western Australia.

Bystanders are people who see, support or know the bullying is going on. Bystanders can be:

•    the friends of the person bullying

•    the friends of the person being bullied

•    kids who see the bullying happening

•    kids who know about the bullying

Kids who bully feel powerful when one or more bystanders give them attention. 
Kids tell us they don’t like seeing bullying happen. If your kid/s see or know about bullying it is really important they tell someone.

Bystanders may act in many different ways. A bystander might:

•    watch what is going on and not get involved

•    pretend not to see and ignore the situation

•    choose to get involved in the bullying

•    choose to get involved and stop the bullying

•    choose to get help

Bystanders can either increase or decrease bullying by their actions. Many kids don’t know how to help the person being bullied.

Why does bullying happen?

Many kids get involved in bullying at some time during their lives – they may be bullied themselves, they may bully someone else, or they may see a friend being bullied.

Yamaji wangi

‘Lots of kids doing the bullying are bullied themselves … and also have parents who bully or are bullied.’

‘Lots of jealousy stems back to the family – it’s carried on from parents who are feuding.’

 

Kids are bullied for lots of reasons. Sometimes they’re bullied because they are different, or because they’re clever or popular or simply because they were in the wrong place at the wrong time. Bullying often comes from a belief that it is okay to act that way. Sometimes there can be issues between families. Kids who bully often need to feel powerful and seem to enjoy inflicting harm on others. They have very little understanding of the feelings of the person they bully.

The main reasons some kids might bully are:

•    aggressive behaviour at home and in the community

•    (Kids who have people around them who bully are more likely to copy this behaviour.)

•    harsh physical punishment at home

•    (Kids can bully smaller, weaker kids to copy what happens to them at home.)

•    friends that bully

•    (Kids may follow their friends if they bully. They may feel they have to bully to fit in with the group.)

•    not enough supervision

•    (Kids who do not have enough supervision may get the idea it is all right to use bullying behaviour to get what you want. Kids need to be taught that bullying is never acceptable behaviour.)

•    the behaviour works for them

•    (When adults give in to kids who use their power, aggression or bad behaviour to get what they want, the kid learns to use this type of behaviour to get what they want from their friends.)

•    ‘To get in first’

•    (Some kids feel they need to let others know they are the boss. They feel if they use their power to show other kids that they are strong it will discourage other kids from bullying them.)

•    getting attention

•    (These kids use negative behaviour to attract attention. This behaviour makes them feel powerful and noticed by adults and their friends.)

Why most kids don’t bully others?

They have good social (friend) skills – they can make friends and be happy without bullying

They think bullying is wrong

They don’t feel they need to bully – they are kids who feel good about themselves and usually enjoy school

They are too busy to think about it – they are kids involved in lots of activities like sport, drama, art etc

They have strong, supportive friendships groups

They believe that bullying isn’t worth it – they know they will get into trouble at home and/or at school and/or their bullying will make them look bad to friends, family or their teachers

They understand how bad it can make someone feel – they have empathy

Why is bullying harmful?

Bullying can make kids feel lonely, unhappy and frightened. Kids say seeing bullying happen at school makes them feel worried and uncomfortable. Kids who bully others are also more likely to be unhappy. Bullying really isn’t good for anyone.

Students who are bullied:

o   feel unhappier at school

o   see school as an unsafe place

o   feel lonely

o   want to stay away from school

o   are more likely to have a criminal conviction by age 24

o   are more likely to be violent

o   are more likely to wag school, use graffiti and/or shoplift

o   are more likely to have mental health issues like depression or anxiety

o   have higher levels of depression, suicidal thoughts and attempts to harm themself

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