Students and Bullying
Today, bullying takes over our students’ lives, leaving them feeling isolated and alone. Often, the word bullying makes us immediately think of fights on a playground or sitting alone in the high school lunchroom, but our definition of bullying can no longer be so narrowly defined. Today, there are four types of bullying: physical, verbal, social, and cyberbullying.
Types of Bullying
As our culture has modernized, bullying has taken many forms. These forms include physical, verbal, social, and cyber.
According to McMillen Health, physical bullying occurs when one uses their body or an object to hurt or scare someone else. This can also include damage to another student’s property. This is the most known form of bullying. Images in our heads of fights on the playground or shoving matches in the hallway fall under this category. It includes hitting, pushing, tripping, slapping, stealing, or destroying possessions, and sexual harassment or assault.
Verbal bullying occurs when someone uses words to hurt or scare another person. This form of bullying can take place in person or online. Verbal bullying can be just as damaging as physical bullying. Females typically engage more in this form of bullying, though males also engage in the behavior to dominate their targets. Verbal bullying includes name-calling, insults, gossip, teasing, taunting, intimidation, and sexist or racist remarks.
Further, social bullying occurs when someone tries to harm a person’s relationships or reputation. This can also occur online or in person. Sometimes called indirect or covert bullying, this form can be more difficult to detect. It can go on behind the target’s back or can take the form of public humiliation. It includes spreading rumors, non-inclusion, negative gestures, jokes or pranks, embarrassment, or humiliation, and damaging someone’s social reputation. This form can be the most emotionally damaging to its victims, and may cause them to experience depression and anxiety. The psychological effects of social bullying often stick around even into adulthood.
Cyberbullying is bullying that occurs through a digital device such as a cell phone, computer, or tablet. Specifically, this form of bullying can take place through SMS, text, apps, social media, or even gaming platforms. Individuals can send posts or share negative, harmful, false, or mean content about another in hopes of causing embarrassment or humiliation. Without much thought at all, these actions can become unlawful or criminal.
The power of cyberbullying has rapidly increased amongst today’s youth due to technological advances such as social media and smartphones. Like a bad dream, cyberbullying reaches targets wherever they are, leaving them hopeless and unable to escape.
According to a TIME article titled, Teen Depression and Anxiety: Why the Kids Are Not Alright, evidence suggests the anxiety wrought by school pressures and technology is affecting younger and younger kids. Ellen Chance, co-president of the Palm Beach School Counselor Association, says technology and online bullying are affecting kids as early as fifth grade.
“I couldn’t tell you how many students are being malicious to each other over Instagram or Snapchat,” she says of the elementary school where she’s the sole counselor for more than 500 kids. “I’ve had cases where girls don’t want to come to school because they feel outcasted and targeted. I deal with it on a weekly basis.”
According to Stop Bullying, about 20% of middle and high school students have experienced bullying. Over half of these students believed their bully had the ability to influence other students’ perceptions of them.
Bullies often target students on school property, creating a sense of fear within their peers. Most bullying occurs in a hallway or stairwell (43.4%); however, it oftentimes happens in the classroom. For this reason, recognizing the signs of bullying is imperative for educators because only 46% of students who are being bullied during the school year notify an adult at school about the bullying.
With the rise of social media, cyberbullying has become a problematic avenue for bullying. In the case of cyberbullying, 59% of U.S. teens have been bullied or harassed online, with over 60% of these students reporting that it immensely impacted their ability to learn and feel safe at school.
If students are unable to learn, it is not only affecting their present but also their future academic success.
However, the more glaring emergency may be the increased risk of suicide in students who have been bullied. Since 2008, suicidal ideation and attempts have DOUBLED. In these years, we have seen a significant increase in technological advances and in mental illnesses such as anxiety and depression.
Bystander vs. Upstander
There are two obvious characters in a scenario of bullying: the bully and the target. However, others can play a vital and influential role in a situation of bullying. These characters include bystanders and upstanders. Bystanders are students who witness bullying and do not get involved. Bystanders can take on a variety of roles in a bullying scenario. These include the Henchmen, active supporters, passive supporters, disengaged onlookers, or potential witnesses.
- Henchman takes an active part in the bullying but does not plan or start the bullying.
- Active supporters cheer on the bully and seek social or material gain from the experience.
- Passive supporters enjoy the bullying and seek social or material gain from it.
- Disengaged onlookers observe and act as if it’s none of their business.
- Potential witnesses oppose the bully and know they are doing something wrong.
In opposition, upstanders are defined as persons who speak or act in support of an individual or cause, particularly someone who intervenes on behalf of a person being attacked or bullied. Students can be upstanders by not laughing, not encouraging the bully, supporting the victim in private, and telling an adult about the behavior.
How To Talk To Students About Bullying
It is imperative that we encourage our students to partake in upstander-like actions when they observe bullying behavior.
Define Bullying. Educators and parents can do this by teaching children and teens what bullying is and what the various types are. When students can identify the behavior, they can make the right choices easier.
Tattling vs. Reporting. Next, educators and parents should teach kids about the difference between tattling and reporting. Reporting allows your students to keep their peers OUT of trouble rather than trying to get them IN trouble when they are not hurting anyone else. Laying out these differences will help students confidently choose to report without fear of backlash.
Teaching Kindness & Respect. Finally, it is fundamental to mobilize compassion within your students. Sharing experiences or creating a project about bullying will help them to be empowered in the face of victimization and fear.
It is essential for our society and future generations to stop the cycle of bullying through positive youth development and educated compassion.
How YES Programs Address Bullying Prevention
Research shows bullying affects all students, including those who are bullied, those who bully others, and those who witness bullying. YES, bullying prevention programs educate K-12th grade students on the various types of bullying (physical, verbal, social, cyberbullying) and teach the importance of treating others with kindness and respect. Students walk away learning how to be an UPSTANDER to bullying and the power of making positive connections with their peers.
Want to learn more about our bullying prevention programs? Please send us a message through our Book Now page, and someone from our YES team will be in touch with you within one business day.
YES Motivational Moments Mini Video Series
PARENTS AND CAREGIVERS: Watch this video with the child in your life and then use the discussion questions below to help guide your conversation.
Question 1: There are four types of bullying. Can you name one and give an example?
Question 2: Words have power. How can you use YOUR words in a positive way?
Question 3: If you see someone being bullied, what is something you can do to be an UPSTANDER rather than a bystander?