Is Your Child A Bully Victim?

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Bullying is a serious issue that every parent should take note of because your child may be one of the victims! The United States (U.S.) Depart of Education reported a high figure of 7,066,000 students being bullied at school from year 2008 to 2009. The statistics demonstrates that 1 out of 4 kids were bullied.

Since bully is now looked upon seriously by school authorities, we need to clarify what exactly "bullying" means. To bully someone does not only include verbal and physical bullying. More modern methods of bullying are adopted as technology advances, giving rise to something called cyber-bullying. With the wide variety of popular social networking websites, cyber-bullying has now become the most common issue amongst teenagers. The impact of cyber-bullying can be more severe as it conceals the identity of the actual perpetrator. Bully victims at school may choose to skip classes should peer pressure escalates, however, cyber-bullying takes place in a virtual world where there is a wide range of audience and messages can spread quickly within a short span of time.

Bullies usually target a loner or a subgroup whose ways are somewhat different from the mainstream crowd. One does not necessarily need to have a distinctive characteristic or appearance to qualify as a bully victim. BBC once reported of a girl being bullied simply because she loved fantasy novels.

Professor of psychology Dan Olweus, affiliated with the Bergen's Research Center for Health Promotion, describes some of the bully victims as "provocative victims". These are people who possess a certain behaviour that may cause them to be overly sensitive to their surroundings. Their aggressive and anti-social behaviour may invite negative responses from other people, leading them to become social rejects. According to Olweus, these are traits that can motivate the bullies. Therefore, a victim need not be weak, lonely or possess a low self-esteem to be bullied.

Bullied victims often suffer from poor academic achievements as they are emotionally affected. They are vulnerable to psychological disorders such as depression and anxiety. Negative experiences due to being bullied are often carried into adulthood. The worst case scenario resulting from bully is suicide. United Kingdom suicide statistics highlighted that at least 16 children kill themselves each year due to being bullied at school.

The most recent major case that was reported in the United States involves a 14-year-old school boy, Kenneth Weishuhn, who hung himself at the garage of his home as a result of bully for being gay. He was harassed and received threatening calls and nasty comments on the internet. Kenneth's suicide serves as a reminder of the severity of bully cases, which should be dealt with as quickly as possible before it becomes too late.

School authorities do have a moral obligation to do their best in preventing bullying as schools should provide a safe learning environment for all students. Not only should school authorities show their concern for the victim(s), the school management should also develop a plan and make it known to all students as to whom they can turn to in the event that they are bullied. Most people bully others just for the fun of it, but they do not realise that their actions can lead to undesirable consequences. Therefore, educating the students on the effects of bullying can help eradicate ignorance as to the severity of the issue.

Counsellors play very important roles in helping a victim to overcome the trauma of being bullied. Harbouring negative thoughts and feelings can result in resentment and depression. Therefore, a counsellor should try to coax the child into sharing his or her bully story even if they are shy. This can be done with the counsellor sharing his or her own bully experience to gain the child's trust. At least the child will realise that he or she is not alone.

Bullying cases at schools should be investigated properly. School authorities should listen to both sides of the story before jumping to any conclusions. It may not be possible for schools to completely eradicate bullying in school grounds, but authorities can do their best in minimising the figures.

Parents play the most important role such cases. They should be more sensitive to their child's needs and be more observant in the child's behaviour to detect any trace of unhappiness. It is recommended that parents always show an interest in their children's school life. If parents are aware that their child is being bullied at school, they must be very careful not to immediately cast the blame on the child thinking that it is their fault that they are being bullied. Parents should instead do their best to stop the bullying by contacting school authorities and offer the child comforting words and advice.

Some also wonder if parents should push the school authorities to impose harsh punishment on bullies. The school's approach in dealing with bullies may disappoint the victim's parents, especially if parents find out that the bullies are not punished. Instead of being overly judgemental against the bullies, parents should co-operate with the school counsellor to find out the reason why their child is being targeted. Nonetheless, schools should still devise strategies to deal with bully cases. Besides suspension, some schools may find counselling or community service better options to solve the problem. As already mentioned earlier, some of the bullies are victims themselves and are merely acting out of dissatisfaction. Hence, harsh punishment may not be an effective way to counter bullying cases at school.

The next question is who are the bullies? School bullies are normally stereotyped to be children who lack empathy, compassion and those who are power-hungry in a group A study conducted by a United Kingdom government, the Centre of Research on the Wider Benefits of Learning (WBL), discovered that most of the bullies are not the 'true bullies' but the victim themselves. Feeling helpless, they too take their feelings out on other people.

Some victims may not have been bullied at school but could have also learned the bully behaviour from their family members. Most bullies were found to have parents who have failed to discipline their children at home or do not take an interest in their children's life.

The WBL study also suggested that more long-term strategies should be discussed and implemented as most of the bullies may have developed behavioural problems from an early age. Even though this does not make the bullying right but an inappropriate punishment may destroy another child’s future. If the school is not responsive to bullying concerns and the bullying still continues, the victim’s parents should not be silent or opt to transfer their child to another school. Instead, they should speak out to higher authorities or the bully's family. Local media can also help raise public awareness to help other children who may also be suffering from school bullying.

A True Bully Story
Bullying can get out of hand especially if seniors in important positions take it for granted that they have the right to bully their juniors. During my high-school days, there was a senior girl by the name of Florence, head-girl at that time, who was very fond of bullying others. I was one of her victims. She used to spread malicious lies so that other seniors would join in her "hate game".

Florence and her gang used to gather near the entrance to the study block every morning to sneer and jeer at others. She even 'taught' her peers to threaten to hit me in the hostel. They simply could not see the error of her ways. However, as Florence was always the teachers' favourite, none of them could believe she was capable of such nasty deeds.

At that time, I was studying grade 7 piano and since my piano teacher was a Japanese musician, he also began teaching me a diploma piece. My piano teacher wanted me to follow his footsteps; he completed Grade 8 in just 2 years of piano studies. For whatever reason, Florence started spreading malicious rumours that I lied about my Grade. She told everyone that I was in fact only a Grade 2 piano student. Oh yes, Florence really went all the way out to make my life miserable! It is such an irony that this bully went on to study Law in uni.

Nevertheless, I was not afraid because I knew I had done nothing wrong. Still, seniors being seniors, the bullying continued. Somehow, just like what the Chinese proverb says: "Paper can never wrap fire" (it means that the truth shall always prevail). One day, I was practicing my pieces in one of the music rooms on campus. Someone else was practicing theirs in the next room. I was practicing L'Orage by Burgmuller and Fantaisie Impromptu by Chopin. When I started playing the piece by Chopin, the person in the next room also stopped playing. Since it is normal for all students to use the pianos available for practice, I did not think further about it.

When I was finally ready to walk back to the hostel, a familiar face walked with me.: "Oh great, him!"

'X' was one of Florence's gang members. To my surprise, he was smiling and for the first time, he actually said "hi"! I simply gave a reluctant smile, returned his "hi" and continued walking.

Then, a bigger surprise came. The young bully actually apologised! He was actually the one who stopped playing the piano next door when he heard me practicing. 'X' admitted that he finally realised that Florence was lying when she said that I was only a Grade 2 piano student. He apologised for all the hurt that the gang had caused me but requested that I do not reveal to other gang members that he actually apologised to me. Although an apology was made, it did not seem sincere to me at that time since he was still afraid to offend Florence and her gang. However, looking back at it today, perhaps X was really sincere when he apologised but did not want to be ostracised by his peers, especially when he was hanging out with the so-called 'popular group'.

From here, one can see that bullying need not be resulted from a 'direct intention'. There are people who bully others due to peer pressure (just as seen in X's case). Although X did not directly intend to bully me, he did so to satisfy his 'gang leader'. The young boy did not realise the possible consequences of his actions at that time.

The bullying still remains fresh in my memory even though it happened 9 years ago. As already mentioned before in the above, children do carry their bully experiences into adulthood. Therefore, it is important for all concerned parties to take the necessary actions to stop the bullying to allow ample time for healing to take place.

In my case, although I did suffer a certain extent from being bullied by Florence, I did not allow her to rule my life. I was always a strong-minded individual who preferred to focus on 'more important' goals than to allow others to kick me wherever they wanted me to be. Having gone through such experiences, I can now relate to other children who are experiencing the same thing. Bullying is a mental game that can end up destroying another individual's life and it does not stop after high school. In fact, bullies can be found everywhere including at one's workplace! Spiritual education and the art of positive thinking are very useful in helping an individual overcome these traumatic experiences.

Let us all play our parts in making this world a better place to live in; a world that is free from bullies. We are all made equal. We are all brothers and sisters. Let us all live in peace.

Authors: Tey Sze Chze & Genevieve Tan Shu Thung

Copyright © 2012 Sandhya Maarga Holistic Living Resources
Holistic Living Annex (AUGUST 2012)

10 Responses for “ Is Your Child A Bully Victim?”

  1. Juanita Edwards says:

    That Florence girl must have had too much time on her hand to bully others over petty stuff like this. Shame on her that she abused her status as headgirl to bully those whom she was supposed to help!!

  2. Rowena Dais says:

    I thought head girl or head boy is supposed to be assisting the teachers to maintain discipline on school grounds? To bully others is to defeat the very purpose that she was appointed for as head girl. Did the victim's parents confront the brat??? If anyone ever tries to bully my daughter, I swear I will go up to their doorstep and start a big commotion! No one touches my daughter! NO ONE!!!

  3. bullies are retards!! says:

    bullies are sick retards!! they are insensitive and selfish! just for your own amusement and to boost your own ego, you damage other people's reputation and sometimes even take their lives!!!! so what if kenneth was gay?? who gave these people any right at all to judge that he shouldn't be?? what makes them think that they deserve the right to torment that poor boy??? had kenneth lived, he could be a better person than those bullies out there even though he is gay!

  4. William says:

    Very educating article. I too face bullies every day at my workplace but I do try my best to ignore them although they do have the power to make me feel shit sometimes. I'm hanging in there. LOL

  5. Anonymous says:

    I think I know who this Florence is. If we are talking about the same Florence, then she was nothing but a show off just because she was the teachers' pet. We were in the same class and I didn't like the way she behaved as if she knew everything ;D

  6. Linda McCain says:

    Kids these days have nothing better to do. Cyber bullying is a serious thing. I've heard of few cases whereby bully victims really committed suicide. tsk tsk tsk

  7. Anonymous says:

    Bullies are good for nothing. They're miserable people who try to make other people's lives miserable too! Get a life man!! I was bullied by a girl in my class when I was 8. She used to score her in her exams and so she thought she actually owned the entire school! She used to humiliate me in front of other classmates and made my childhood a living hell for me!! Look who is living the life now?? I: managing director. She: jobless! That's the truth of life. Do unto others as you would have others do unto you. You'd get back exactly what you put out!

  8. Cassey says:

    I was just reading about the suicide of Amanda Todd, so I was researching about bullying and I landed on this page! How do people become bullies?? What the hell is wrong with these people??? Look at Amanda's memorial page. She's dead, and yet there are some who say that she should have died earlier! Where is their mercy?? What sickos!! What makes them think that they deserve to live and others don't??? Who are they to instigate other people to turn against a helpless individual????

    That Florence is a bitch! I hope she didn't ruin other people's lives just like the good-for-nothing bullies did to Amanda!!!!! I wonder if they even know that they left her to die?????

  9. Against bullying! says:

    Some people think that only cases like Amanda's need attention. In fact, all bully cases need attention however small they are! Every single case has the potential to end up like the Todd's case. Now that she's dead, I bet those who joined in the game to torment her will be miserable now (if they have the conscience!!). I believe there will come a time when Florence will get to taste her own karma too! These people are so blinded by their own arrogance that they think so highly of themselves and so they push people down. In reality, they actually feel threatened inside. That is why they put people down!! Why else would they do that? Gaining pleasure from other people's misery. Bullies do not need counselling! They need a trip to the psychiatrist! Enjoying to see other people suffer suggests danger - this type of people should not be left to roam about freely in society. They're rubbish to society!!

  10. Rosie U. says:

    Stupidos! The bullying still continues on Amanda Todd's memory page. reAl pathetic! what has this world become?? Judgement day awaits them. All bullies will have to answer to God one day for their shit karma!!


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