United against Prejudice and Discrimination
Bullying: A form of discrimination
© UNICEF Malaysia/2011
Children may unknowingly use hurtful words against their peers, leaving deep emotional scars that last a lifetime.
A good deal of bullying can be traced to prejudice. Because of their prejudiced attitude, children may feel justified in discriminating against some of their peers and trying to hurt them.
Bullying is a spectrum of aggressive and intentional behaviors that result in an intimidating imbalance of power. Rarely an isolated event, many victims experience bullying repeatedly. Physical acts of harm, like kicking, punching, and shoving, are just one form of bullying. Name calling is a form of verbal bullying. Social exclusion of the victim is emotional bullying.
Children with disabilities are significantly more likely than their peers to be the victims of bullying behavior. The type of bullying experienced often differs according to the child’s disability.
Name calling, Labelling or Teasing
When someone kicks or punches a child it hurts them on the outside, but when someone teases or calls them names, it hurts on the inside. Teasing and name-calling are the most common forms of bullying by children. Unfortunately, because they don’t leave scratches or bruises and often happen when there are no adults around, they can go unnoticed by parents or teachers.
Exclusion, or leaving someone out, is another form of bullying. This is when a child or group of children won’t let another child play with them or join a group activity. When a child is excluded on purpose, he or she is made to feel unlikable and very alone. When a child goes through school, it’s understandable that they won’t be good friends with everybody in their class and there are some children they just won’t have things in common with or will have trouble getting along with. However, this is no excuse, for purposefully excluding someone. All children like to fit in, have friends and feel accepted.
Threatening is another form of verbal bullying. When someone threatens someone else, they say they are going to do something hurtful, even though they may never do it. They may threaten that they are going to hurt someone physically, take their belongings or spread personal information or rumours about them. Being threatened is very scary and hurtful. The victims are always afraid the person is going to carry out their threats, but they often don’t know when or where this may happen. They start each day worrying they are going to come to school and find everyone talking about them or they are going to get beat up.
Some children not only tease others or exclude others; they can also be physically abusive. Kicking, punching, pinching, pushing are all forms of physical bullying. Being physically bullied is incredibly scary for a victim and puts them at great risk. Children can be seriously injured by physical bullying. We need to teach our children that it is never okay to hurt someone physically even if they have hurt them. While it can be very tempting for a child to hit someone if they have hurt him or her in some way, this is not going to make the child feel better or solve the problem.
Cyber-bullying is bullying that takes place on the internet or with cell phones. It can take the form of many of the above forms of bullying: name-calling or teasing, exclusion or threatening. The only difference is instead of happening face-to-face, it takes place on-line via websites, chat-rooms or text-messaging. The cyber-bully may send the victim threatening emails, take pictures or video of them and post them on-line (Facebook, Myspace or You Tube) or say mean things about the victim in a chat-room.