Anti-Bullying Week: No sympathy for the ‘bully’?

“It is our choices…that show what we truly are, far more than our abilities.”
~ J. K. Rowling, author

Most experts tend to agree that it’s in the age of adolescence (children between ages 10 to 19 years old) is when bullying peaks. Of course, this is the kind of bullying that happens face to face, the more physical kind. Although experts also agree that this type of bullying declines with age, other methods of bullying, such as verbal (name calling, hostile teasing, etc.), social (deliberate isolation), and cyberbullying tend to increase. Also, according to the collected key research findings on age trend prevalence of bullying [PDF] by PREVNet, a Canadian authority on bullying, it is during school transition—usually around the 9th grade—when bullying is at its highest.

As we’ve mentioned in a previous post, bullying is commonly seen or considered as a societal problem; however, experts in the field have also recognized it as a health problem as it is found to be associated with adjustment problems, which includes poor mental health and extreme violent behavior. Those who bully are observed to be psychologically strongest and enjoy their school life more compared to (1) those being bullied and (2) those who play the role of both bully and bullied (Some studies use the term “bully-victim” for the latter). On the other hand, the group of “bully-victims” were observed to be the most troubled group as they usually display the highest level of problems in terms of conduct, school, and peer relationship.

Some interesting facts

We have compiled some statistics that we think are worth noting when it comes to bullying episodes within the adolescence stage.

  • Most of those involved in cyberbullying are not involved in school bullying.
  • Approximately 160,000 teens in the US skip school due to daily bullying
  • Effects on those being electronically bullied result to internalizing problems, which is defined as “problems or disorders of emotion or mood caused by difficulties regulating negative emotions.” Examples of internalization are insomnia, negative self-perception, depressive mood, and emotional distress.
  • 1 in 4 teachers see nothing wrong with bullying; thus, they are less likely to intervene.
  • More than 67% of students believe that schools are not doing enough to address bullying. There is also a high percentage of students who believe that adult help is infrequent and ineffective.
  • As boys grow older, they feel less sympathy towards the person or group being bullied. It is even observed that they are likely to add to the problem than help solve it.

Effects of bullying on those who bully

A lot of sympathy is poured over those being bullied and hardly on those who bully. What most of us don’t realize is that those who exhibit bullying behaviors need as much help and attention as those who are being bullied because both parties are affected by these behaviors. If left unmitigated, they will be carried over to adulthood

Below are some noted effects of bullying on those who bully:

  • Personality disorder, which may include antisocial and violent behavior
  • Poor school adjustment
  • Anxiety
  • Depression
  • Attention-deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD)
  • Greater alcohol use
  • High levels of health problems

What to do if your teen is exhibiting bullying behavior

Parents naturally want to protect their children, so it may be difficult for some to face the fact that their child may be deliberately hurting their peers. It may be easier to downplay accusations of bullying—that it’s only natural for them to tease or fight with one another—but we suggest that parents (also teachers and carers) have an open mind and take up these accusations seriously. The future of their children and those they affect depend on it.

Have a sit-down and start an honest conversation with your child. Tell them you have been hearing reports from parents and/or other children about their behavior, and explain to them that what he’s doing is a form of bullying and that it causes pain to others and would negatively impact him/her as well. Get your child’s side of the story as well. Affirm that you love them no matter what, but also say that they have to change their behavior, and that you support whatever punishment the school decides on. Reassure them that you will help change their behavior and correct the situation with the other children and/or parents.

Parents are also encouraged to meet their child’s teacher and listen to their perspective. It would also be ideal for the parents to express their interest in working with the school to help stop their child’s bullying behavior. If the family is in a stressful situation, which may be the cause of the child’s behavior, it may be beneficial for the parents to let the teacher know as well.

Bullying resources for adolescents

Although parents, teachers, and other responsible adults in the adolescent’s life continue to play a significant part in addressing bullying, sometimes it’s also handy to have a list of support groups and organizations adolescents can approach and seek help from. Or, they can also volunteer to help others who are affected by bullying.

  • The Trevor Project (US)
    • Contact # 1-866-488-7386
  • Stomp Out Bullying (US)
    • Contact # 877 N0BULLY (877 602 8559)
  • National Bullying Helpline (UK)
    • Contact # 0845 22 55787 or 07734 701221
  • Kidscape (UK)
    • Contact # 020 7730 3300
    • Contact # (Parent Advice Line) 020 7823 5430

Stay safe out there!

The Malwarebytes Labs Team

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