Bullying takes shape in a variety of forms: it can be physical (aggression or intimidation), social (relational, social isolation) or verbal (name calling, ridicule, belittling, shaming). Bullying behaviours can be identified in children as young as four years old and for some of those children, the behaviours continue until by Grade 7 or 8 they may have become accomplished bullies. If children are not taught at a young age that bullying is unacceptable behaviour that will be immediately consequenced, there’s no reason for them to stop when they grow up and enter the workforce. An estimated 37 percent of employees were subjected to ongoing bullying behavior according to research by the Workplace Bullying Institute and Zogby International (2007). In fact, workplace bullying has been defined as a chronic “form of abuse with similarities to domestic violence and the constant exposure of … health service workers to violent and distressing situations” (Tehrani, 2004).
Bullying is occurring in playgrounds, classrooms, school hallways, cafeterias, sports teams, clubs, volunteer organizations, and workplaces all around the world. It is only when bullying hits home with its devastating and debilitating pain that it becomes very clear that bullying is not just ‘kids being kids’; rather, bullying is a severe and dangerous threat to a person’s health and well-being. Bullying is not a game.
If you are being bullied and don’t know what to do …
Talk to someone you trust. This can be your parent, grandparent or person that looks after you. Tell them what happened and how it made you feel if you can. Tell them you need their help. You should also tell someone at the school. It can be a teacher, principal or an adult you trust.
If you don’t feel like you are safe at school tell your teacher or your principal. “I do not feel safe”.
Explain what happened as best as you can. Sometimes it is hard to remember what happened. It’s easy to forget the details when you are scared. If you can, write down what happened; this will help you remember.
Find a safe place in the school. Here are a few ideas but maybe you and your teacher can think of some more … Helping another teacher or helping another class room. Ask if there is something you can do during recess and lunch if you don’t feel that you can be with the other kids. Maybe help in the office. This doesn’t have to be forever but just for a little while until you feel comfortable.
Never do anything you do not feel comfortable doing. If someone wants you to talk to the bully or suggests you “try to work it out” and you don’t feel comfortable doing so, say you don’t want to and ask to speak to your parent.
These strategies are excerpted from Bullying is Not a Game: A Parents’ Survival Guide by Julie Christiansen (www.angersolution.com) and Laurie Flasko. Follow us on Facebook: www.facebook.com/pages/Bullying-is-Not-a-Game.