THE T.U.F.F SERVICES MINISTRIES™    
                                        

Religious and Nonreligious Pastoral Coaching, Counseling and Relief Service

 

End Bullying

 
 
Bullying Definition


Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. 


In order to be considered bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and include:


  • An Imbalance of Power: Kids who bully use their power—such as physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or popularity—to control or harm others. Power imbalances can change over time and in different situations, even if they involve the same people.
  • Repetition: Bullying behaviors happen more than once or have the potential to happen more than once.

Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.



Types of Bullying


**There are three types of bullying**


1. Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things. Verbal bullying includes:
  • Teasing
  • Name-calling
  • Inappropriate sexual comments
  • Taunting
  • Threatening to cause harm

2. Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying, involves hurting someone’s reputation or relationships. Social bullying includes:
  • Leaving someone out on purpose
  • Telling other children not to be friends with someone
  • Spreading rumors about someone
  • Embarrassing someone in public

3. Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions. Physical bullying includes:
  • Hitting/kicking/pinching
  • Spitting
  • Tripping/pushing
  • Taking or breaking someone’s things
  • Making mean or rude hand gestures



Where and When Bullying Happens


Bullying can occur during or after school hours. While most reported bullying happens in the school building, a significant percentage also happens in places like on the playground or the bus. It can also happen travelling to or from school, in the youth’s neighborhood, or on the Internet.



Frequency of Bullying


There are two sources of federally collected data on youth bullying:

  • The 2010–2011 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that, nationwide, 28% of students in grades 6–12 experienced bullying.
  • The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance System (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) indicates that, nationwide, 20% of students in grades 9–12 experienced bullying.

    Research on cyberbullying is growing. However, because kids’ technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends.



Risk Factors


No single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied or bullying others. Bullying can happen anywhere—cities, suburbs, or rural towns. Depending on the environment, some groups—such as lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgendered (LGBT) youth, youth with disabilities, and socially isolated youth—may be at an increased risk of being bullied. 

Children at Risk of Being Bullied


Generally, children who are bullied have one or more of the following risk factors:

  • Are perceived as different from their peers, such as being overweight or underweight, wearing glasses or different clothing, being new to a school, or being unable to afford what kids consider “cool”
  • Are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves
  • Are depressed, anxious, or have low self esteem
  • Are less popular than others and have few friends
  • Do not get along well with others, seen as annoying or provoking, or antagonize others for attention


However, even if a child has these risk factors, it doesn’t mean that they will be bullied.




Children More Likely to Bully Others


There are two types of kids who are more likely to bully others:

  • Some are well-connected to their peers, have social power, are overly concerned about their popularity, and like to dominate or be in charge of others.
  • Others are more isolated from their peers and may be depressed or anxious, have low self esteem, be less involved in school, be easily pressured by peers, or not identify with the emotions or feelings of others.



Children who have these factors are also more likely to bully others:

  • Are aggressive or easily frustrated
  • Have less parental involvement or having issues at home
  • Think badly of others
  • Have difficulty following rules
  • View violence in a positive way
  • Have friends who bully others


Remember, those who bully others do not need to be stronger or bigger than those they bully. The power imbalance can come from a number of sources—popularity, strength, cognitive ability—and children who bully may have more than one of these characteristics.

Warning Signs


There are many warning signs that may indicate that someone is affected by bullying—either being bullied or bullying others. Recognizing the warning signs is an important first step in taking action against bullying. Not all children who are bullied or are bullying others ask for help.


It is important to talk with children who show signs of being bullied or bullying others. These warning signs can also point to other issues or problems, such as depression or substance abuse. Talking to the child can help identify the root of the problem.




Signs a Child is Being Bullied


Look for changes in the child. However, be aware that not all children who are bullied exhibit warning signs.


Some signs that may point to a bullying problem are: 

  • Unexplainable injuries
  • Lost or destroyed clothing, books, electronics, or jewelry
  • Frequent headaches or stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
  • Changes in eating habits, like suddenly skipping meals or binge eating. Kids may come home from school hungry because they did not eat lunch.
  • Difficulty sleeping or frequent nightmares
  • Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
  • Sudden loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
  • Feelings of helplessness or decreased self esteem
  • Self-destructive behaviors such as running away from home, harming themselves, or talking about suicide


If you know someone in serious distress or danger, don’t ignore the problem. Get help right away.




Signs a Child is Bullying Others


Kids may be bullying others if they:   

  • Get into physical or verbal fights
  • Have friends who bully others
  • Are increasingly aggressive
  • Get sent to the principal’s office or to detention frequently
  • Have unexplained extra money or new belongings
  • Blame others for their problems
  • Don’t accept responsibility for their actions
  • Are competitive and worry about their reputation or popularity


Why don't kids ask for help?


Statistics from the 2012 Indicators of School Crime and Safety show that an adult was notified in less than half (40%) of bullying incidents. Kids don’t tell adults for many reasons:


  • Bullying can make a child feel helpless. Kids may want to handle it on their own to feel in control again. They may fear being seen as weak or a tattletale.
  • Kids may fear backlash from the kid who bullied them.
  • Bullying can be a humiliating experience. Kids may not want adults to know what is being said about them, whether true or false. They may also fear that adults will judge them or punish them for being weak.
  • Kids who are bullied may already feel socially isolated. They may feel like no one cares or could understand.
  • Kids may fear being rejected by their peers. Friends can help protect kids from bullying, and kids can fear losing this support.



Effects of Bullying


Bullying can affect everyone—those who are bullied, those who bully, and those who witness bullying. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. It is important to talk to kids to determine whether bullying—or something else—is a concern.



Kids Who are Bullied


Kids who are bullied can experience negative physical, school, and mental health issues. Kids who are bullied are more likely to experience:

  • Depression and anxiety, increased feelings of sadness and loneliness, changes in sleep and eating patterns, and loss of interest in activities they used to enjoy. These issues may persist into adulthood.
  • Health complaints
  • Decreased academic achievement—GPA and standardized test scores—and school participation. They are more likely to miss, skip, or drop out of school.


A very small number of bullied children might retaliate through extremely violent measures. In 12 of 15 school shooting cases in the 1990s, the shooters had a history of being bullied.




Kids Who Bully Others


Kids who bully others can also engage in violent and other risky behaviors into adulthood. Kids who bully are more likely to:

  • Abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and as adults
  • Get into fights, vandalize property, and drop out of school
  • Engage in early sexual activity
  • Have criminal convictions and traffic citations as adults 
  • Be abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses, or children as adults



Bystanders


Kids who witness bullying are more likely to:

  • Have increased use of tobacco, alcohol, or other drugs
  • Have increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety
  • Miss or skip school



The Relationship between Bullying and Suicide


Media reports often link bullying with suicide. However, most youth who are bullied do not have thoughts of suicide or engage in suicidal behaviors. 


Although kids who are bullied are at risk of suicide, bullying alone is not the cause. Many issues contribute to suicide risk, including depression, problems at home, and trauma history. Additionally, specific groups have an increased risk of suicide, including American Indian and Alaskan Native, Asian American, lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender youth. This risk can be increased further when these kids are not supported by parents, peers, and schools. Bullying can make an unsupportive situation worse.

Considerations for Specific Groups


Schools and communities that respect diversity can help protect children against bullying behavior. However, when children perceived as different are not in supportive environments, they may be at a higher risk of being bullied. When working with kids from different groups—including lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth and youth with disabilities or special health care needs—there are specific things you can do to prevent and address bullying.




Bullying and LGBT Youth


Lesbian, gay, bisexual, or transgender (LGBT) youth and those perceived as LGBT are at an increased risk of being bullied. There are important and unique considerations for strategies to prevent and address bullying of LGBT youth.




Creating a Safe Environment for LGBT Youth


It is important to build a safe environment for all youth, whether they are straight or LGBT. All youth can thrive when they feel supported. Parents, schools, and communities can all play a role in helping LGBT youth feel physically and emotionally safe:


  • Build strong connections and keep the lines of communication open. Some LGBT youth often feel rejected. It is important for them to know that their families, friends, schools, and communities support them.
  • Establish a safe environment at school. Schools can send a message that no one should be treated differently because they are, or are perceived to be, LGBT. Sexual orientation and gender identity protection can be added to school policies. 
  • Create gay-straight alliances (GSAs). GSAs help create safer schools. Schools must allow these groups if they have other “non-curricular” clubs or groups. Learn more about the right to form a GSA under the Equal Access Act. 
  • Protect privacy. Be careful not to disclose or discuss issues around being LGBT with parents or anyone else. 



Federal Civil Rights Laws and Sexual Orientation


Federal civil rights laws do not cover harassment based on sexual orientation. Often, bullying towards LGBT youth targets their non-conformity to gender norms. This may be sexual harassment covered under Title IX. Read more about federal civil rights laws. Many states protect against bullying because of sexual orientation in their state laws.


Additional Resources
  • Bullying of LGBT Youth and Those Perceived to Have Different Sexual Orientations Tip Sheet (PDF - 339 KB)
  • Learn more about preventing bullying.
  • Visit the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website to support LGBT youth.
  • Read a paper on LGBT bullying from the White House Conference on Bullying.
  • Read more about health-risk behaviors in LGBT youth.



Religion and Faith


Very little research has explored bullying based on religious differences. Bullying in these situations may have less to do with a person’s beliefs and more to do with misinformation or negative perceptions about how someone expresses that belief. 


For example, Muslim girls who wear hijabs (head scarves), Sikh boys who wear patka or dastaar (turbans), and Jewish boys who wear yarmulkes report being targeted because of these visible symbols of their religions. These items are sometimes used as tools to bully Muslim, Sikh, and Jewish youth when they are forcefully removed by others. Several reports also indicate a rise in anti-Muslim and anti-Sikh bullying over the past decade that may have roots in a perceived association of their religious heritage and terrorism.


When bullying based on religion is severe, pervasive, or persistent, the Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be able to intervene under Title IV of the Civil Rights Act. 


Often religious harassment is not based on the religion itself but on shared ethnic characteristics. When harassment is based on shared ethnic characteristics, the Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights may be able to intervene under Title VI of the Civil Rights Act.

Bullying and Youth with Disabilities and Special Health Needs


Children with disabilities—such as physical, developmental, intellectual, emotional, and sensory disabilities—are at an increased risk of being bullied. Any number of factors— physical vulnerability, social skill challenges, or intolerant environments—may increase the risk. Research suggests that some children with disabilities may bully others as well.


Kids with special health needs, such as epilepsy or food allergies, also may be at higher risk of being bullied. Bullying can include making fun of kids because of their allergies or exposing them to the things they are allergic to. In these cases, bullying is not just serious, it can mean life or death.




Creating a Safe Environment for Youth with Disabilities


Special considerations are needed when addressing bullying in youth with disabilities. There are resources to help kids with disabilities who are bullied or who bully others. Youth with disabilities often have Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) or Section 504 plans that can be useful in crafting specialized approaches for preventing and responding to bullying. These plans can provide additional services that may be necessary. Additionally, civil rights laws protect students with disabilities against harassment.




Creating a Safe Environment for Youth with Special Health Needs


Youth with special health needs—such as diabetes requiring insulin regulation, food allergies, or youth with epilepsy— may require accommodations at school. In these cases they do not require an Individualized Education Program or Section 504 plan. However, schools can protect students with special health needs from bullying and related dangers. If a child with special health needs has a medical reaction, teachers should address the medical situation first before responding to the bullying. Educating kids and teachers about students’ special health needs and the dangers associated with certain actions and exposures can help keep kids safe.




Federal Civil Rights Laws and Youth with Disabilities


When bullying is directed at a child because of his or her established disability and it creates a hostile environment at school, bullying behavior may cross the line and become “disability harassment.”  Under Section 504 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 and Title II of the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990, the school must address the harassment. Read more about federal civil rights laws.

Young Adults


Behaviors that are traditionally considered bullying among school-aged youth often require new attention and strategies in young adults and college students. Many of these behaviors are considered crimes under state and federal law and may trigger serious consequences after the age of 18.




Is it Bullying?


Although media reports often call unwanted, aggressive behavior among young adults “bullying,” this is not exactly accurate. Many state and federal laws address bullying-like behaviors in this age group under very serious terms, such as hazing, harassment, and stalking. Additionally, most young adults are uncomfortable with the term bullying—they associate it with school-aged children.




How Young Adults Can Get Help

  • Encourage young adults to talk to someone they trust.
  • Determine if the behavior violates campus policies or laws. Review student codes of conduct, state criminal laws, and civil rights laws.
  • Report criminal acts to campus or community law enforcement.
  • Consult the college’s Title IX coordinator to help determine if the behavior is sexual harassment.
  • Many college campuses also have an ombudsperson or similar person who handles a variety of concerns and complaints. He or she can help direct the young adult to appropriate campus resources.
  • Young adults may be reluctant to seek help for cyberbullying, although they do recognize it as a serious issue for their age group. Encourage young adults to report cyberbullying.



What is Cyberbullying


Cyberbullying is bullying that takes place using electronic technology. Electronic technology includes devices and equipment such as cell phones, computers, and tablets as well as communication tools including social media sites, text messages, chat, and websites.


Examples of cyberbullying include mean text messages or emails, rumors sent by email or posted on social networking sites, and embarrassing pictures, videos, websites, or fake profiles.




Why Cyberbullying is Different


Kids who are being cyberbullied are often bullied in person as well. Additionally, kids who are cyberbullied have a harder time getting away from the behavior.


  • Cyberbullying can happen 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, and reach a kid even when he or she is alone. It can happen any time of the day or night.
  • Cyberbullying messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. It can be difficult and sometimes impossible to trace the source.
  • Deleting inappropriate or harassing messages, texts, and pictures is extremely difficult after they have been posted or sent.



Effects of Cyberbullying  


Cell phones and computers themselves are not to blame for cyberbullying. Social media sites can be used for positive activities, like connecting kids with friends and family, helping students with school, and for entertainment. But these tools can also be used to hurt other people. Whether done in person or through technology, the effects of bullying are similar.


Kids who are cyberbullied are more likely to:

  • Use alcohol and drugs
  • Skip school
  • Experience in-person bullying
  • Be unwilling to attend school
  • Receive poor grades
  • Have lower self-esteem
  • Have more health problems
Frequency of Cyberbullying


The 2010-2011 School Crime Supplement (National Center for Education Statistics and Bureau of Justice Statistics) indicates that 9% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying. The 2013 Youth Risk Behavior Surveillance Survey finds that 15% of high school students (grades 9-12) were electronically bullied in the past year.


Research on cyberbullying is growing. However, because kids’ technology use changes rapidly, it is difficult to design surveys that accurately capture trends.

 
 
Contact the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline online or at 1-800-273-TALK (8255). The toll-free call goes to the nearest crisis center in our national network. These centers provide 24-hour crisis counseling and mental health referrals.
 
 
 
 
 

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