What is Peer Bullying?

Studies of school-aged children say that nearly one in five children is bullied. This frightening statistic becomes even more frightening when one considers how bullying negatively affects children’s mental and physical health. Children exposed to this bullying perform poorly academically, have sleep problems, or have to cope with mental health issues such as anxiety or depression. Moreover, there is one more thing that should not be forgotten. Children who bully their peers are just as at risk as the children who are bullied! When behavior changes are not made at an early age in bullying children, violence and abuse behaviors carried into adulthood are observed. Alright, Is every rude behavior considered bullying? To further simplify the question, what is peer bullying?

Bullying is defined as unwanted and aggressive behaviors observed among school-age children, fed by an existing or perceived power imbalance.  These behaviors appear as repetitive or potentially repetitive behaviors. Children who are both bullied and bullied can experience serious and long-term problems. To qualify as bullying, the behavior must be aggressive and have the following qualities:

  • Imbalance of Power : Children and adolescents who bully often take advantage of the social or physical strength they have. These children use their popularity at school or their physical superiority to control or harm their peers. Power imbalances can change over time, even among the same people.
  • Repetition : Bullying behaviors occur more than once or have the potential to do so.

Bullying is manifested by behaviors such as threats, spreading gossip, physical or verbal assault, or ostracism among school-age children. Not every child is exposed to this bullying in the same way.


Types of Peer Bullying

The types of bullying vary according to the target and method of the behavior. All bullying behaviors can be basically divided into 4 groups. The most common types of bullying are as follows:

  • Physical Bullying : Physical bullying, which means that children who bully physically harm the person they are targeting; It manifests itself in forms such as pushing, hitting, spitting, tripping, kicking and punching. Any unwanted physical contact with the person has the potential to be physical bullying and potential harassment.
  • Verbal Bullying : Verbal bullying, which is among the most common types of peer bullying, includes rude words or writings directed at the person. Making fun of, name calling, making inappropriate sexual comments, insults and threats are expressed as verbal bullying.
  • Social Bullying : Social bullying, also called relational or psychological bullying, is characterized as behaviors that aim to damage the reputation or relationships of the targeted person. It is considered social bullying to specifically exclude someone, to pressure others not to be friends with that person, to spread gossip about someone, or to humiliate someone in public.
  • Cyberbullying : Cyberbullying, which is the newest type of bullying, is the behavior of bullies through the internet and social media. These behaviors can appear as rude and insulting messages, insulting tweets about the person on Twitter, or rude comments on the person’s photo on Instagram. Cyberbullies can also engage in behaviors that try to humiliate the person by spreading personal information and photos without permission.


Examples of Peer Bullying

Peer bullying can occur in the above-mentioned types. The most easily detectable and easily understood examples of peer bullying by a teacher or parent are physical bullying such as pushing or beating. This type of physical bullying behavior often reveals itself more quickly, as it leaves a physical mark. Verbal bullying examples, such as name-calling, are just as common. Social bullying behaviors are the most difficult behaviors to be noticed by teachers or parents in peer bullying. Behaviors such as spreading gossip and manipulation can be much more difficult to detect, as they occur in the social environment of children and adolescents.


Bullying in Children and Adolescents

Bullying in primary school children and bullying in adolescents can manifest themselves differently. While physical and verbal bullying is much more common in younger children, peer bullying in adolescents also includes social bullying and cyberbullying. Children exposed to these bullying may show the following symptoms:

  • Refusing to go to school, finding excuses not to go to school, skipping school,
  • Being unhappy or anxious before or after school
  • Speeches of hatred or fear towards the school,
  • performance decline in school,
  • sleep problems,
  • self-confidence problems,
  • unexplained physical scars
  • Missing or damaged items.


How Can Peer Bullying Be Prevented?

The question most frequently asked by both parents and educators regarding peer bullying is “How can peer bullying be prevented?” there is a question. There are many things that can be done to prevent peer bullying, but at this point it is important to act long-term and not expect results in the short-term. First of all, it is necessary to make sure that children know what bullying means. Continuing two-way and open communication between children and parents is also of great importance to identify children who are bullied. Encouraging children to do things they love, keeping them busy with activities and hobbies, and making friends are also effective methods of dealing with bullying.


How Can Teachers Prevent Peer Bullying?

Of course, the biggest task in preventing peer bullying falls on teachers. Being able to create an environment of trust at school and in the classroom is not always that easy. So, is it possible to prevent children from bullying and stop these behaviors at the beginning? How can teachers prevent peer bullying?

  • Introducing children to compassion and empathy is very important to prevent bullying behaviors. Activities that will improve children’s social and emotional intelligence are very useful at this stage.
  • Creating an environment for children to establish connections and intimacy with each other is one of the most effective methods that can be done in the classroom. The formation of a sense of belonging, especially in children who are exposed to bullying, makes it easier for them to cope with this situation, and it is possible for bullied children to give up on it.
  • It is necessary to know the bullying signals well and to intervene before the situation grows when these are noticed. Although behaviors such as rolling eyes, staring, turning their backs and ignoring may seem innocent at first, they are among the behaviors that are highly likely to turn into bullying.

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