Bullying is the act of intentionally causing unhappiness to others through verbal harassment, physical assault, or other more subtle methods of coercion such as manipulation. There is currently no legal definition of bullying.
Bullying often describes a form of harassment perpetrated by an abuser who possesses more physical and/or social power and dominance than the victim. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a target. The harassment can be verbal, physical and/or emotional.
Norwegian researcher Dan Owelus defines bullying as when a person is "exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more other persons." He defines negative action as "when a person intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways."
Bullying can occur in any setting where human beings interact with each other. This includes school, the workplace, home and neighbourhoods. Bullying can exist between social groups, social classes and even between countries.
The effects of bullying can be serious and even fatal. About 85% of bullying victims suffer long term psychological damage and stress related disease later in their lives. Mona O’Moore, Ph.D, asserts that "There is a growing body of research which indicates that individuals, whether child or adult who are persistently subjected to abusive behaviour are at risk of stress related illness which can sometimes lead to suicide."
Victims of bullying can suffer from long term emotional, academic, and behavioural problems. Bullying can cause loneliness, depression, and anxiety as a bullying victim begins to believe that something is wrong with them. Victims can also have a loss of confidence and an increase in susceptibility to illness.
Research indicates that adults who bully have personalities that are authoritarian, combined with a strong need to control or dominate. It has also been suggested that a deficit in social skills and a prejudicial view of subordinates can be particular risk factors.
Further studies have shown that while envy and resentment may be motives for bullying, there is little evidence to suggest that bullies suffer from any deficit in self esteem (as this would make it difficult to bully). However, there are instances where bullying takes place only for humour. It is generally used in this instance by children who were bullied earlier in their lives, on the assumption that those who bullied them derived fun from their acts and that this would teach the victims to do the same. However many bullies have never suffered bullying themselves and only bully others because it is fun and it has nothing to do with being bullied when they were younger, to impress other people or to be socially accepted. Bullies say these things are the reason for their actions because they won't be punished as badly.
Researchers have identified other risk factors such as quickness to anger and use of force, addiction to aggressive behaviours, mistaking others' actions as hostile, concern with preserving self image, and engaging in obsessive or rigid actions.
Bullying may also be "tradition" in settings where an age group or higher rank feels superior than lowerclassmen.
It is often suggested that bullying behaviour has its origin in childhood:
"If aggressive behaviour is not challenged in childhood, there is a danger that it may become habitual. Indeed, there is research evidence, to indicate that bullying during childhood puts children at risk of criminal behaviour and domestic violence in adulthood."
Bullying does not necessarily involve criminality or physical violence. For example, bullying often operates through psychological abuse or verbal abuse.
Bullying can often be associated with street gangs, especially at school.
In schools, bullying usually occurs in areas with minimal or no adult supervision. It can occur in nearly any part in or around the school building, though it more often occurs in PE, exploratory classes, breaks hallways, bathrooms, school buses and waiting for buses, classes that require group work and/or after school activities. Bullying in school sometimes consists of a group of students taking advantage of, or isolating one student in particular, and outnumbering him/her. Targets of bullying in school are often pupils who are considered strange or different by their peers to begin with, making the situation harder for them to deal with. Bullying can also be perpetrated by teachers, especially vain or mean teachers.
According to the Workplace Bullying and Trauma Institute, workplace bullying is "the repeated mistreatment of one employee targeted by one or more employees with a malicious mix of humiliation, intimidation and sabotage of performance." Statistics show that bullying is 3 times as prevalent as illegal discrimination and at least 1,600 times as prevalent as workplace violence. Statistics also show that while only one employee in every 10,000 becomes a victim of workplace violence, one in six experiences bullying at work. Bullying is also far more common than sexual harassment and verbal abuse.
Unlike the more physical form of schoolyard bullying, workplace bullying often takes place within the established rules and policies of the organisation and society. Such actions are not necessarily illegal and may not even be against the firm's regulations; however, the damage to the targeted employee and to workplace morale is obvious.
Particularly when perpetrated by a group, workplace bullying is sometimes known as mobbing.
Other forms of Bullying are:
Cyber bullying occurs in electronic space.
Bullies will even create blogs to intimidate victims worldwide.
Bullying takes many forms, like name-calling, hitting, spreading rumours, stealing, excluding people and turning someone’s friends against them. You can also be bullied via abusive text messages or online.
Bullying factoid In a survey 83% of teachers said they hadn't seen bullying in the last 12 months National Bullying Survey 2006
It's not you, it's them
Although it’s hard to feel sorry for bullies, it might help to understand that happy people don’t need to make others feel unhappy or small. It’s the bullies who have a problem, not the people they target.
What to do
Who should I tell?
As many people as you can. Sometimes just having things out in the open can be enough to make bullies stop. If it’s at school, any of your teachers should be able to help (your school should have an anti-bullying policy). If you can’t tell your teachers, ask a parent or another adult to speak to them for you. If you don't trust any adult enough, the websites and help lines below may help.
Call ChildLine for extra help on 0800 1111