Did you know it’s anti-bullying week this week? Although I never experienced it myself at school, having worked in schools in recent years, I know how pervasive bullying still is among young people. In the bad old days, bullying was accepted as a normal part of school life; Tom Brown’s School Days is a classic case in point where the hero was badly bullied by Flashman.
Bullying at school can have a fundamental and negative impact on the development of the adult personality. Kidscape, the first national charity established specifically to prevent bullying, offers some shocking statistics.
- 1 in 12 children is bullied to the point where it affects their education, relationships and job prospects
- Each year 10-14 youth suicides are directly attributed to bullying.
Bullying is abuse and can be defined as a desire to inflict sustained intentional hurt without provocation. It can be physical, verbal or emotional. Of course, although the definition is simple, the reasons behind a bully’s behaviour are often complex. Children who are victims of bullying may become bullies themselves. Also, bullies don’t always pick on the weak. Sometimes, their behaviour is triggered by feelings of inadequacy when faced with another person’s strong performance.
The problem with bullying is that it is not always immediately obvious to the onlooker, because it comes in a variety of forms. It can be as simple as ignoring, excluding someone from a group, or “sending someone to Coventry”, i.e silences;not speaking. It maybe starting malicious rumours, even blackmail.
If the bullying isn’t dealt with at school, then the child bully may become an adult bully and continue their behaviour in the workplace and personal relationships. Please look out for my next counselling blog on the emotional impact of bullying on adult mental health.