Who gets bullied and why?
FOR BRANT NEWS
So, who gets bullied and why? There are many theories related to bullying that profess to explain who and why particular children are bullied. After 37 years of working in the education field I will provide my own theory.
There are four conditions that, when met, will guarantee that a student will be victimized by a bully. In my many years as a principal and school superintendent, I have found that these four conditions are always met when investigating a victim who has been bullied.
Condition No. 1 — Victim does not “stand up” to
The starting point for bullying activity occurs at the earliest stage when a bully targets a boy or girl and engages in some preliminary bullying such as name calling, aggressive behaviour such as pushing or shoving or some other intimidating action.
The bully is checking out whether the identified victim will provide any form of resistance to the unwanted negative behaviour. Resistance can vary depending on the individual situation, but it can range from a verbal outburst such as “no, leave me alone” to a more aggressive response that might include a verbal rebuke, as well as a noticeable change in behaviour that clearly indicates that the child does not appreciate nor welcome the unwanted behaviour.
If the bully does not receive any sort of “standing up” for one self, it is clear that there is a passive victim there for the “picking.” No “standing up” to the unwanted behaviour by the victim gives the bully the message that such negative behaviour can be continued unopposed by the victim.
Condition No. 2 — Victim does not have friends or bystanders to “stand up” to the bully
With the first condition having been fully established, the next level on the road to victimization involves friends, or lack thereof. A child who is completely passive and has no supporters to offer aid and assistance is in an extremely vulnerable position because no one is challenging the bully. This is a critical moment because without the so-called “bystanders” intervening, the victim is now alone and has no defence against the bully.
Condition No. 3 — Victim does not tell school staff
The bully has victimized a student who has not offered any resistance nor had any friends or bystanders to do it for him or her. It is now critical that the victim tell an adult at school about the bullying and ask for help. It could be a teacher, an educational assistant, a bus driver, or the principal. The victim must tell an adult about the bullying and continue to do so until someone takes action.
For a student who does not have the wherewithal to stand up for himself or herself and has no friends or bystanders to do it, trying repeatedly to draw the attention of an adult about the bullying may be a very difficult task.
Condition No. 4 — Victim does not tell an adult
The only hope for the victim now is that he or she will tell an adult family member and have this individual report the bullying to the school principal. However, if the victim does not tell a family member and continues to be silent concerning the bullying, the bullying pattern will now continue unabated.
As you can see, a student who meets all four of these conditions is in grave danger at school. Without any support system of friends to intervene and fearful of “telling” on the bully, the poor victim is at significant physical and psychological risk attending school.
Greg Anderson is superintendent of education with the Grand Erie District School Board.