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Main content start

Understanding Bullying

 

  • What is bullying

 

Different academics have slightly different views over the definition of bullying, but most of them agree that it has three components in common, namely:

  • Repetition - Bullying repeats over time. It is not a single incident.

  • Malicious intent - Bullies oppress and hurt others deliberately.

  • Imbalance of power - Bullies are apparently more powerful and bullying occurs when the victims are unable to defend themselves. 

( Beane, 1999; DFES, 2002; Newman, Horne & Bartolomucci, 2000; Olweus, 1993 )

A behaviour is defined as bullying only when it has all these three components. Overall speaking, bullying is a repeated and intended act of harm or oppression by a person or a group of persons who is more powerful or in the majority.

 

 

  • Types and Forms of Bullying

 

Bullying can be broadly classified into four categories as follows:

 

Types

Examples

1. Physical bullying with aggressive behavior


Punching, kicking, slapping, hitting, shoving, tripping, pulling hair, extorting money or properties, etc.

 

2. Verbal bullying


 

Intimidating, making nasty / abusive call, cursing, defaming, mockery, name-calling and insulting or making malicious fun of somebody by attacking his personal characteristics like appearance, ability, and ethnicity.

 

3. Indirect bullying

 

Spreading rumours, being hostile, ignoring, isolating, boycotting or rejecting the victim, etc.

 

4. Cyber-bullying

 

With the development of information technology, bullies can spread rumours, post insulting remarks or make other personal attacks via electronic means, such as emails, webpages, chat rooms and text messages of mobile phones, to mock and defame the victims. This gives rise to what we call "cyber-bullying".

 

  • People Involved in Bullying
  • Bully

 

Initiates the bullying behaviour and acts as the ringleader

 

  • Assistant 

 

Follows the ringleader and participates directly in bullying

 

  • Reinforcer 

 

Encourages the bullying behaviour, e.g. by teasing and cheering around

 


  • Victim

 Suffers from bullying

 

  • Defender

 

Offers comfort and support to the victim, tries to stop bullying

 

  • Outsider

 

Stays on the sideline

 

  

  • References:

 

Beane, A.L. (1999). The bully free classroom. Minnesota: Free Spirit.

 

Department for Education & Skills (2002, September). Bullying: Don't suffer in silence. (Retrieved from: http://www.dfes.gov.uk/bullying/pack/02.pdf)

 

Newman, D.A., Horne, A.M., & Bartolomucci, C.L. (2000). Bully busters: A teacher's manual for helping bullies, victims, and bystanders. Illinois: Research Press.

 

Olweus, D. (1993). Bullying at school: What we know and what we can do. Oxford: Blackwell.