Bullying

Bullying: far from harmless

The prevalence of bullying in New Zealand schools remains disappointingly high. Studies conducted in the last ten years suggest that between 50 – 75% of teenagers report having been subjected to bullying at school.

Bullying boyNo single factor puts a child at risk of being bullied or bullying others. Bullying can happen, and does, anywhere – cities, suburbs, or rural towns; large schools or small schools.

Bullying has many definitions but most include three essential components. Bullying occurs when a person is the target of any behaviour that is:

1. Harmful or done with intent to harm;
2. Repeated or occurs over time; and is
3. Characterised by an imbalance of power, such that the victim does not feel he or she can stop the interaction.

Bullying does not include arguments or disagreements; disliking someone; one-off acts of spite or nastiness; or random acts of intimidation or aggression.

The types of behaviour characteristic of bullying vary. It may be physical. For example hitting, kicking, pinching, pushing, tripping or damaging the victim’s property. Emotional or psychological bullying involves verbal acts such as name calling, insults, racist or homophobic remarks; social exclusion such as being left out, not spoken to and avoided; and other tactics designed to manipulate or intimidate the victim such as stalking.

It is not uncommon for victims of bullying to not tell parents or teachers what is happening to them for a variety of reasons, so it isn’t always easy to know if bullying is affecting your child. However, there are usually some warning signs that your child is being bullied or may be bullying others.

Cyber-bullying

canstockphoto16612243Cyber-bullying is a recent phenomena made possible by recent technological advancements. It has been defined as “any wilful and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, cell phones, and other technological devices.” Through such technology, the bully now has the opportunity to reach his or her victim remotely, most commonly through email, text messaging, internet chat rooms and social networking sites such as facebook. Cyber-bullying is essentially a mechanism by which emotional or psychological abuse is facilitated.

Bullying in ‘cyberspace’ can include:

  • Posting comments on social networking sites (e.g. Facebook, Bebo and Twitter) designed to isolate, intimidate, threaten or embarrass
  • Sending anonymous messages
  • Hacking existing website accounts or creating fake profiles for people
  • Circulating photos or videos of people they are targeting – these can be real images or digitally altered.
  • Using cyberspace to circulate rumours

Even when offending messages and images are removed from the site they were originally posted to, the nature of the internet is such that complete deletion is rarely achievable – material can rapidly spread and be copied and viewed by anyone across the globe.

Research in the UK has shown that because cyberbullying can continue away from school and at any time of the day or night, it often has more of an impact than physical bullying.

The impact of bullying

The impact of bullying on the victim, perpetrator and bystander can be profound.

The victim

Victims are likely to have poor self esteem, will have difficulties with social interactions and may seek to avoid confrontations through increased absenteeism from school. Health complaints such as stomach aches and headaches become more common. Educationally, they may fail to thrive.

Bullying may be a trigger in the development of eating disorders and other physical and mental health problems – victims have four times the prevalence of agoraphobia, generalized anxiety, and panic disorder when they became adults.

The extreme outcome of bullying is suicide, or otherwise known as bullycide.

The bully

There are consequences for the bullies too. Bullies often feel disconnected from school and are likely to get into fights. They are also more inclined to leave school early with low educational achievement.

Bullies are more likely to abuse alcohol and other drugs in adolescence and adulthood, and have four times the risk of developing an antisocial personality disorder.

A long term study in Sweden indicated that 60% of intermediate school bullies had criminal convictions by 24 years of age. In Australia, research has found students who frequently bully others are more likely to engage in theft, violent behaviour and binge drinking. As adults, bullies often become abusive toward their romantic partners, spouses or children.

The bystander

The witness, or bystander, is not immune from the effects of bullying, nor can they be described as innocent. They provide a support function to aid and abet the bully through acts of omission and commission. They may stand idly by or avert their eyes; they can actively encourage the bully; eventually they may join in and become a bully themselves. The failure to actively intervene provides a form of encouragement to the bully. This encouragement will cause the victim even more distress and the bully’s antisocial behaviour is reinforced.

However, bystanders who do not participate are also at risk of experiencing increased mental health problems, including depression and anxiety, and are more likely to skip school and abuse drugs and alcohol.

Research has found that the impact of witnessing emotional violence such as bullying is perceived by students to have more impact than if the were violence directed at them. The impact was even greater if the incident of emotional violence happened at school. This underscores the effect that school bullying has on all children. Fear that the bullying could be directed towards them next time contributed to their feelings of distress when witnessing the bullying but also led to their unwillingness to intervene.

Help should be sought for everyone adversely affected by bullying

Bullying is not going to disappear from New Zealand culture in the immediate future. It will require a sustained and concerted effort by parents, teachers, schools, and the wider community to eradicate the problem.

In the interim, all players in the bullying arena – victim, bully and bystander – need assistance to constructively deal with the problem. In particular, all need to learn how to:

  • deal with fear and anger
  • build and maintain caring and genuine friendships
  • respect others and their feelings
  • become more confident in their dealings with others, and
    develop appropriate social skills.

Kumgang Taekwondo

Do you want to: Develop co-ordination and concentration? Improve fitness? Boost confidence and self-esteem? Increase strength and stamina? Taekwondo from 5 years old; age and ability no barrier.

Locations

  • Central Auckland
  • North Shore

Specialities

  • Bullying
  • Coordination, Motor Skills & Mobility
  • Indoor Sports & Activities
Click Here

Shore Therapy

Shore Therapy offers both long & short-term psychotherapy & counselling to children & families who are seeking a safe & professional space to explore & discover patterns of behaviour, thoughts & emotions, which affect their wellbeing.

Location

  • North Shore

Specialities

  • ADHD & Other Behaviour Disorders
  • Anger
  • Anxiety, Fears & Phobias
  • Bullying
  • Family Relationships
  • Parenting Skills
Click Here

Tough Love

TOUGHLOVE is a non-profit, self-help organisation that provides ongoing education and active support to families, empowering parents and young people to accept responsibility for their actions and stop destructive behaviours.

Locations

  • Central Auckland
  • East Auckland
  • North Shore
  • South Auckland
  • West Auckland

Specialities

  • Anger
  • Anxiety, Fears & Phobias
  • Behaviour Concerns
  • Bullying
  • Depression & Mood
  • Family Relationships
  • Parenting Skills
  • Pre-employment, Careers & Life Skills
  • Self-confidence & Self-esteem
  • Social Skills
Click Here

Kereru Psychotherapy & Counselling

Are you battling with a situation you need to discuss in a supportive environment? We believe that with specialised support, children, young people and their families can discover the strength to endure the toughest of times.

Location

  • North Shore

Specialities

  • Anxiety, Fears & Phobias
  • Bullying
  • Family Relationships
  • Parenting Skills
  • Self-confidence & Self-esteem
  • Trauma & Grief
Click Here

The Kids Coach

Inspired Kids coaching, classes and resources, brought to you by The Kids Coach, are designed to empower children and help them develop the mindsets, skillsets and tools they need to thrive in the modern world.

Locations

  • Central Auckland
  • East Coast Bays
  • North Shore

Specialities

  • Anger
  • Anxiety, Fears & Phobias
  • Bullying
  • Family Relationships
  • Self-confidence & Self-esteem
  • Social Skills
  • Teacher & Parent Education
Click Here

HBC Youth Centre

The Hibiscus Coast Youth Centre is a non-profit organization working to empower and strengthen youth and families through challenging activities, support services, employment, advocacy, education and training.

Location

  • Rodney

Specialities

  • Before/After School Care
  • Bullying
  • Holiday Programmes
  • Outdoor Sports & Activities
  • Social Skills
Click Here

ICONZ – The Boys’ Brigade in NZ Inc

ICONZ and Boys’ Brigade offer weekly adventure based programmes for boys, mentored by men of integrity whose desire it is too see kiwi boys become kiwi icons. Programmes are specifically designed to develop practical life skills and encourage values such as discipline, integrity, respect.

Locations

  • East Auckland
  • North Shore
  • South Auckland
  • West Auckland

Specialities

  • Anxiety, Fears & Phobias
  • Bullying
  • Outdoor Sports & Activities
  • Pre-employment, Careers & Life Skills
  • Social Skills
  • Water sports & activities
Click Here

Mile High Karate

Our goal is to help you and your family achieve new levels of fitness and health, self discipline, confidence and focus, through the mind/body practice of martial arts... We also offer programmes to support youth affected by bullying.

Location

  • North Shore

Specialities

  • Bullying
  • Indoor Sports & Activities
Click Here

Dynamic Martial Arts

Dynamic Martial Arts in Silverdale is a true MMA Training Centre, where you can train in a mixture of different martial arts by our qualified instructors. With over 40 hours a week of instructor led classes, Dynamic Martial Arts offers a wide range of sessions for the whole family to enjoy.

Location

  • Rodney

Specialities

  • Bullying
  • Indoor Sports & Activities
  • Self-confidence & Self-esteem
Click Here

Hart Taekwon-Do

Learn Taekwon-Do for fun, fitness and self-defence in a family-friendly environment. We have an holistic approach to self-defence, teaching both psychological and physical aspects.

Location

  • West Auckland

Specialities

  • Bullying
  • Coordination, Motor Skills & Mobility
  • Under 5s Skills & Activities
Click Here