THE NEW FACE OF BULLYING
The new face of bullying
Bullying is nothing new. From the beginning of time when someone has deemed another weak or vulnerable people have made it their business to unleash their wrath and make themselves feel mighty. Ranging from intimidation, threats to actual physical violence, forms of bullying have been committed by countries and their citizens alike. Looking back, I remember my first real encounter with bullying being at school. Without a word the bully in my elementary school would glare at the younger students and make us literally sweat at the thought of the being in a confrontation with him. Schools have long been the playgrounds for bullies. A stark difference exists nowadays when comparing bullying from yesteryear. Before bullying could only be done in person or through notes or letters. Today people can now hide behind their mobile phones and laptop screens and bully others in a myriad of different ways.
The advent of the smartphone has given people a whole range of ways to bully one another, and platforms through which to do so. This, in turn, had made anti-bullying efforts and attempts at conflict management on the part of schools and society in general far more complex.
‘The old-fashioned ganging up on someone in the hallway is no longer the telltale sign that something is wrong’.
Although schools still have the chance to catch a culprit red handed in the act of bullying a peer, whether physically, verbally or digitally, the landscape has definitely changed. In the school setting students have always been creative at hiding bullying and it has always taken place under a teacher’s nose. In today’s world of compromising pictures being posted or anonymous callous messages being texted, it is far more difficult for those responsible for safeguarding young people to pick up that someone is being victimized by a bully.
It’s vital for those in positions of authority as well as young people themselves to be aware of cyber-bullying in its various forms. It might take the form of direct harassment, spreading online rumours, exclusion from a particular group, sharing private information, posting photographs of an individual or creating a fake identity in order to harass someone.
There are several signs that might suggest that a young person is experiencing cyber-bullying specifically or bullying in general. These signals include but are not limited to; appearing nervous when they receive a text, unexplained sudden mood swings after being online, abruptly turning off a device, trouble sleeping, unexpected weight loss or gain and pretending to be ill so as to avoid attending class. Parents, authority figures and young people themselves should be aware of these so that they can pick up on if an individual is a victim of bullying. In the event someone is being bullied, be sure to support them and assess where they require assistance. In addition explore ways to address stopping the offensive behaviour. Education surrounding bullying for students is always a good place to start, however depending on the severity of the bullying intervention by the school or law enforcement could be warranted.
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