Bullying - Advice for Professionals
Bullying is not new and the internet certainly did not create the problem, but the anonymity of many online environments can increase the opportunity for people to bully, intimidate, harass and upset others. The vast majority of bullying incidents still take place ‘offline’.
First and foremost, it is important to think of bullying in the broadest sense. Online bullying (i.e cyberbullying or internet bullying) is therefore, just an extension of bullying in the ‘real’ world.
One of the aggravating factors of online bullying is that young people live simultaneously in the real and virtual worlds. If they occupy the same online space as the bully, they can feel that there is nowhere to hide. Therefore, it is harder for teachers who are not part of their online life to identify the early signs that a child is being bullied.
The indicators below can relate to many other issues;
What is Bullying?
Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological behaviour that is harmful and involves the misuse of power by an individual or group towards one or more persons.
Online bullying refers to bullying through information and communication technologies. This can be done through the use of mobile phones, social media platforms, or even through gaming devices.
Bullying can involve humiliation, domination, intimidation, victimisation and all forms of harassment including that based on religion, race, disability, sexual orientation or gender.
Bullying of any form, or for any reason, can have long-term effects on those involved, including bystanders.
Bullying can happen anywhere including; at school, travelling to and from school, in sporting teams, between neighbours or in the workplace.
Even if a child does not directly tell you they are bullied, there may be indicators in their behaviour.
These indicators can be subtle, so you need to be sensitive to the early signs and symptoms. However, behaviour needs to be considered in context, so it should not automatically be assumed that a child displaying one or more of them is a victim of bullying.
SOS- Bullying Indicators to Look Out for
S - School
- Is frightened of walking to or from school or changes route.
- Doesn’t want to go on the school/public bus.
- Refuses to go to school.
- Suddenly starts asking to be driven to school.
- Begins to truant.
- Performance in school work begins to drop.
- Has dinner or other monies continually ‘lost’.
- Comes home ‘starving’.
O - Observations
- Becomes withdrawn, anxious or lacking in confidence.
- Becomes aggressive, abusive, disruptive or unreasonable.
- Starts stammering.
- Changes their usual routine.
- Feels ill in the mornings.
- Comes home with clothes torn, property damaged or ‘missing’.
- Has unexplained cuts or bruises.
- Bullying others.
- Changes in eating habits.
- Changes in a child’s attitude to accessing technology.
- Afraid to use the internet or mobile phone.
- Nervous or jumpy when a cyber message is received.
S - Say: things they might say?
- Threatens or attempts suicide.
- Threatens or attempts self-harm.
- Threatens or attempts to run away.
- Cries themselves to sleep at night or has nightmares.
- Asks for money or starts stealing money.
- Is frightened to say what is wrong.
- Gives improbable excuses for their behaviour.
If you are worried because you are witnessing these behaviours – then take action. Talk to the child, their parents and the designated safeguarding lead. Bullying is very rarely a complete secret.