According to the National Center for Educational Statistics, it is estimated that one out of every five students is being bullied. Despite how well-known the topic of bullying is, not many are sure when to identify it happening to them. Bullying can have many different faces, and happen both online and in-person. There are many different types of bullying, and being aware of them can play a huge role in your academic experience.
Before we get into the different types, let’s first establish what bullying is. Now, an important note is that schools may have definitions that differ slightly, so it is important to have evidence and check in with your counselor if you suspect you are getting bullied. Anyways.
Bullying has a long history. So long, in fact, that it can be found in writing documents as early as the 18th century. It was typically described as violence, harassment, or complete apathy found in schools. Of course, bullying has changed since then. This can be considered due to a plethora of factors, yes, but mainly it is because of the internet. With smartphones and the internet, bullying has become a lot more than physical aggressions. It is a loose term to encapsulate different types of bullying. So, let’s clarify some of these different types, and what can be done to stop them.
This is exactly what you think it is. Name-calling, insults, slurs, inappropriate teasing, etc. Verbal bullying can be something as plain as a direct insult, or it can be a thinly veiled, backhanded compliment. Verbal abuse can be intimidating. While teasing or jokes might start off playful, it is important that a buildup can affect the person being bullied deeply.
Physical bullying requires physical, hand-to-hand contact. For example, this can include pushing, hair-pulling, scratching, and more. It also extends to damaging property as well.
Whereas verbal and physical bullying is a lot easier to spot, social bullying can be a bit more complicated. Social bullying can be intertwined with verbal bullying and harassment, but much more covert. In fact, social bullying can even be referred to as covert bullying because it can be much more discreet and complex. Social bullying can be spreading false rumors, mockery, and playing pranks. This can also include excluding someone on purpose as well. Not always, but there is usually a group dynamic when it comes to social bullying. In addition, it should also be noted that microaggressions can and often do fall into this category..
A microaggression occurs in a short timespan and is often overlooked and dismissed by others. These actions can be interpreted as quick moments in which one may intentionally or unintentionally undermine someone based upon prejudice or other aspects. Unfortunately, because microaggressions are quick, it may have to occur somewhat consistently and over time in order for a school to determine if it is targeted bullying. Regardless, microaggressions are never okay. Microaggressions can include a lot of different actions. For instance, a microaggression can be consistently and intentionally mispronouncing a student’s name despite multiple corrections, touching a student’s hair without permission, or implicating something about a student due to their race, disability, or gender. It is important to acknowledge microaggressions when they occur, and say something.
Snapchat, TikTok, Instagram, Facebook, BeReal, YouTube, Twitch, and whatever other social media you can think of– cyberbullying occurs on the internet, on a social media platform. Cyberbullying can be extremely similar to social bullying and verbal bullying. Why? Because it can involve leaving nasty comments on someone’s page, promoting hate on someone’s account, or even impersonating others. For some social media, like Snapchat, only the student being bullied will notice. This is mainly due to Snapchat’s private and ephemeral nature.
As the digital age grows, other avenues to cyberbully will too. But don’t fret– so will ways of accountability. As of right now, though, accountability can sometimes be difficult online. With different usernames, anonymous accounts or VPNs, it can be difficult to identify the internet troll at hand.
Nobody wants to be bullied. I have never met a single student who has enjoyed getting insulted, excluded, or hurt. It is a hurtful experience, and more so, it is a damaging one. Being bullied can impact a student deeply. Depending on their age, it can affect both learning ability and mental health. Imagine how difficult it must be to study in an environment where you feel like you don’t belong. It can be quite distracting, at best. At worst, it can severely stunt a student’s learning ability and feel very, very alone.
Students who are bullied typically report higher levels of anxiety and depression. It’s no joke– this anxiety and depression can lead to a lower self-esteem, and other conditions as well. Extreme bullying in past cases has led to horrible things such as students self-harming, developing eating disorders, and worse. Isolating and excluding students can also impact their social abilities as well.
Luckily, bullying is something that we can definitely stop. Pay attention. If you notice something, tell a teacher or a counselor. Similarly, if it happens online– screenshot. Keep receipts. Tell someone. Don’t be a bystander. What is the bystander effect, anyways?
The term was created by psychologists Bibb Latane and John Darley, after the horrific murder of Kitty Genovese, in which over thirty people witnessed and did nothing. This effect occurs when an incident occurs in big groups. Typically, when something happens, no one in the group does anything. In fact, the bigger the group, the more likely it is that no one will intervene. Why? Because everyone else believes that someone else will. So since everyone believes that, nothing gets done.
Fortunately, there are ways to prevent the bystander effect. For example, if you see someone being bullied, do something. This can range from telling an adult, intervening, recording, etc. If an incident occurs in a crowd, don’t just yell, “someone do something!” Specificity is key to breaking the bystander effect. Instead, turn around, point to one person, say a key descriptor, and tell them to do a specific action.
For example, let’s say you are in a crowd of people. Suddenly, someone collapses to the ground. Simply turn around, point to the first person you see. Then, you say:
“Hey YOU with the green shirt, call for an ambulance!”
What just happened here? Well, by establishing who will do what, you created clear responsibility. Now, expectations are created and people will expect that person to call the police. The person who was given the responsibility also is no longer unsure or confused about what to do, because they have been given an order.
In times of emergencies, this simple callout can prevent confusion and lack of action. Remember, everyone has different reactions to bearing witness to something. Similarly, everyone has different resolutions and ways of acting. A very tall, strong person may be ready to intervene whereas a shorter, less athletic person may prefer to notify authorities. But change starts with action, so try to do something, even if it seems small. The aftermath matters just as much, so joining someone for lunch, making sure someone is okay, or walking them to their class can make a world of difference.
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