Bullying at primary, secondary and technical schools in Cyprus is on the increase. Bullying can be verbal (name-calling), physical (hitting and kicking), virtual (cyber bullying, threats or name-calling via internet or text) or a combination of all three. Bullies know exactly how to upset their victim by picking on their sensitive points.
The person being bullied can feel a whole range of emotions, from feeling very upset, shut out, to feeling suicidal and often self-harm. Frequently, the person feels alone, helpless, powerless and afraid that if they tell anyone, the bullying will get worse. This can affect their health, confidence, self-esteem and schoolwork.
How to solve the problem.
Ignore the bully where possible. Bullies are looking for a reaction from you, so do not give them the satisfaction.
Tell a teacher you can trust. The teacher can quietly alert other teachers to keep an eye on the situation and catch the bully red handed.
Tell a friend whom you can trust. It is good to have a witness whenever possible. If you feel that you would like some moral support, ask your friend to accompany you to see the teacher.
Tell a parent. It will not stop unless you speak out.
Keep a record of the dates, times and instances when the bullying occurs.
If your health is being affected in any way, speak to your family doctor. Alternatively, it is always a good idea to speak to a trained therapist.
Bullying can dramatically lower the self-esteem of the victim. When it occurs in childhood, it may interfere with the development of social skills and normal relationships. Victims of bullying often feel afraid to revisit the location of bullying, which is especially problematic when bullying occurs at school. In extreme cases, victims of bullying may attempt suicide.
Therapy for Bullying.
Victims of bullying may find a supportive and safe environment to address their feelings in counselling or therapy. Being a victim of bullying can result in difficult emotions such as anger, shame, anxiety, and isolation. Therapy can help victims of bullying notice, share, and process painful feelings, which if left unattended can negatively affect one’s personal well-being. A trained therapist can help a person better understand how this role impacts their lives, as well as teach coping skills for moving forward, such as assertive communication and boundary-setting.
People who bully others may also benefit from therapy, though they may be reluctant to acknowledge their bullying behaviour openly. In therapy, bullies may begin to understand the impact their hurtful behaviour has on others, explore reasons for why they bully, learn new skills for communicating positively with others, and address personal experiences that may have contributed to their bullying behaviour. Often bullies have unresolved personal wounds that contribute to their bullying behaviour, and addressing these emotional wounds or identity and social issues can be an integral step towards stopping bullying behaviour.
Finally, Bullies are often surrounded by other children, not through popularity but through fear. Bullies are weak, disordered, dysfunctional and emotionally immature as shown by their need to bully, bullies compensate for their weakness with aggression and lack of social skills.
© 2015 – 2016, Content: Dr Vasilios Silivistris – Artwork: Ian Francis. All rights reserved.