Despite the fact that bullying has occurred for hundreds of years in different forms, there are still a huge number of myths about bullying. To raise awareness about how to deal with bullying properly, it is important to dispel these myths wherever possible. Here are a selection of the most prolific myths that are associated with bullying.
Bullying only happens at school. Bullying can happen absolutely anywhere that there are people. In addition to this, bullying behaviour is not only limited to children and young adults. Bullying can happen at university, in the home, in the neighbourhood, on public transport or in the workplace. Parents should also remember that children can be bullied on their way to and from school or when they are spending time with people who may be considered as friends.
Sticks and Stones May Break Your Bones, But Words Can Never Harm You. Many people will be familiar with this mantra from their childhood; however anti-bullying campaigners now acknowledge that this saying is counter-productive. Verbal bullying can have a huge effect on a victim’s emotional and psychological well-being. Most physical scars will fade over time, but hurtful words and comments can resonate for a lifetime. In extreme cases, those who are verbally bullied will start to self-harm or they may resort to suicide to escape from the abuse. Never accept bullying just because it is verbal rather than physical.
There are no laws to prevent bullying. Although some forms of bullying may slip under the radar, other types of bullying are illegal and the abusers can be convicted of a crime. For example, certain types of bullying are criminalised by the Equalities Act 2010. Other types of bullying may be covered by the Harassment Act of 1997. Upsetting messages which are sent online or via the post may be covered by the Malicious Communications Act 1998 or by the Communications Act 2003.
Bullies are born bad. In general, bullies are made and not born. Most people who choose to bully do so because they are reacting to their own experiences. People may choose to bully as a reaction to being bullied themselves, or they may join in with bullying behaviour as a way to avoid becoming a target. Alternatively, they may be reacting to a difficult situation which is occurring as part of their home life, such as separation or the divorce of their parents. Regardless of the primary cause, bullying is not acceptable. However, it may be easier to stop bullying behaviour if it is possible to treat the root cause of the problem.
Children Grow Out of Bullying Behaviour. Children may not grow out of bullying behaviour if it is not stopped whilst they are young. If bullying continues to give a person power, it is unlikely that they will just stop doing it as they grow older. Many children who were responsible for bullying continue to use manipulation, negative behaviour and abusive tactics as a way of getting what they want as adults. Intervention during youth can prevent problems during adulthood.
Teachers are responsible if bullying is happening at school. It can be very hard to spot the signs of bullying if the victim is not physically hurt. Most bullies will take steps to avoid detection, so it is unlikely that they will pick on their victims in front of teaching staff. Although teachers do have a responsibility to watch for signs of bullying, parents must also remain vigilant of any changes within their child. Remember that teachers can be charged with looking after as many as 35 children at one time, so it is impossible to be with all of the children, all of the time. That being said, if you are aware of specific locations in the school in which bullying regularly occurs, you should inform the teachers so that they can take necessary steps to make the area safer for all pupils.
Fighting Fire with Fire is the Best Way to Beat Bullies. Although it is understandable that bullying victims will feel angry about the way that they are being treated, fighting back with verbal or physical aggression is rarely the best way to beat the bullies. Most bullies are looking for a reaction from their victims, so fighting back could be exactly what the bully is looking for. It could also end up landing the victim in trouble too. Bullies can use any retaliation as justification for continuing their campaign and the retaliation could make other people feel more sympathetically towards them.
Bullying is normal for children and should be ignored. Bullying behaviours must not be normalised. If a child is prepared to share their situation with you, you must never dismiss it in such an offhand way. If you know of a child who is being bullied, you should try to work with them to improve their situation.