Do unto others… – Bullying

NO one is immune to peer pressure. Social influences are powerful, and they are easy for all but the most sensitive observers to bear.

Bullying among schoolchildren is a very common phenomenon. The fact that some children are frequently and systematically harassed, and even attacked by other children are known. Many books have been written about said occurences. But what exactly is meant by the term bullying?

Bullying in the broadest sense is when a student is victimised by being exposed repeatedly to abuse on the part of one or more students. It is abuse when someone intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another. The abuse can be carried out by physical contact, words, dirty gestures and intentional exclusion from a group.

TEENage is here to shed light on this very familiar situation and also to highlight that actions which are sometimes perceived to be funny can lead to something harmful.

The student who is exposed to the abuse has difficulty in defending themselves and feels helpless against the student/s who harass them.

There are two types of victims. Passive victims are those who are generally disliked by their peers, lack social skills, have low self-esteem, do not communicate assertively, are socially withdrawn, and often have very close, even over-protective, relationships with their mothers.

The provocative victim, on the other hand, is a restless, hot-tempered individual, who often irritates peers and is inclined to fight back unsuccessfully.

Violence in schools is mainly related to peer-on-peer bullying. This can take the form of verbal, physical or relational aggression, and the use of corporal punishment and other forms of bullying by teachers. While we do not have prevalence rates for bullying of students by their peers, it seems to be a common occurence in our schools.

The most frequent and traumatising experiences are cruel teasing or verbal humiliation, being robbed and being physically attacked. With less frequency, students describe sexually inappropriate behaviour ranging from inappropriate comments, being touched sexually and being forced to have sex. While most bullying acts are carried out by students, the choice of methods — primarily humiliating and beating up on students — is similar for both peers and teachers. Boys are more at risk for experiencing or witnessing physical violence, and girls for being sexually molested and teased.

There is a growing body of evidence that indicates that children’s experiences of violence are highly dependent on gender. Corporal punishment and bullying affect both boys and girls, but the level of violence experienced by boys is usually more severe.

By contrast, sexual harassment and violence appear to be overwhelmingly carried out against girl students by male students and teachers. Similarly, although research is still very limited, violence in educational settings also appears to be directed against children who do not conform to heterosexual behaviour or appearance codes.

Interestingly, social status plays a key role in the power struggle that is witnessed in the school corridors. One consequence of social status differences is that some children have more power than others in determining what peers value and devalue, support and stigmatise.

TEENage strongly advises that before one engages in these activities that can prove to be violent in the end, that one be mindful of the golden rule: Do unto others as you would have them do onto you.

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