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Bullying is the repeated and
deliberate abuse of power,
which can be verbal, physical or
psychological in nature. It may
also be in the form of a socially acceptable
behaviour, such as a highly competitive
approach to academic, sporting or social
success, which, by intent, makes others
feel inferior or causes distress. What
constitutes abuse of power will depend on
the social and cultural context.
The incidence of bullying in schools,
across nations, is extremely high. In
Australia, at least 50% of students
experience some degree of bullying each
year. Bullying is an age-old problem and
Age and gender
Children are most frequently bullied
between the ages of 10 and 12. Boys are
more likely to bully and be bullied. Boys
and girls tend to bully differently, which
probably reflects the way children interact
in the first place. For the most part, children
play and interact in much the same way,
but boys tend to favour physically based
group activities like sport. Girls seem to
prefer social friendship-based interaction
such as chatting and playground games.
Girls who bully usually use methods like
spreading hurtful information about
someone, whereas boys are more likely
to use physical intimidation together with
For most children the problem is fleeting,
though the consequences can be
devastating for those frequently bullied,
say, at least once a week. It is estimated that
one in six students on average across age
groups is bullied on a regular basis. More
Childhood bullying is an age-old problem and, if anything,
has taken on an extra dimension with access to modern
technology. As clinical psychologist Dr Anna Cuomo-
Granston suggests, looking at both sides of the bullying
story leads to a better understanding of how to beat it.
resilient students may come through
fairly intense bullying relatively unscathed
physically and psychologically. But if
bullying is prolonged, the effects are
unlikely to be trivial unless, of course, the
victim is extremely resilient.
At the very least, a bullied child is
likely to feel miserable, no matter how short-
lived the problem may be. If victimisation
is long-term, the consequences can
occasionally be tragic. A link has been
established between suicide and attempted
suicide, and peer victimisation at school.
In some cases, bullied children retaliate a
nd become bullies themselves.
While the bullied child bears the
brunt of an attack and stands in the most
immediate psychological and physical
danger, Professor Hazler and Professor
Janson of Child and Family Studies at
Ohio University, say that depending on
the severity of the ordeal, the impact on
bystanders can be just as traumatic.
Bullies, with seeming delight, intimidate
and instill fear in their victims. They taunt,
tease, belittle, hound, spread rumors and
physically overpower. As a general rule,
they pick on easy targets and shy away from
more confident, resilient individuals who
are likely to ignore or challenge them.
For obvious reasons bullies are not
particularly well-liked, respected or
popular. They often report feeling lonely
at school as their menacing nature repels
would-be friends, apart from sidekicks
who are prepared to go along with them
for fear of being bullied themselves. These
"assistant" bullies are, in reality, as much
victims as the children targeted or the
bystander who turns the other way.
continued page 30
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More information at: www.daoyintherapy.com.au
1175 Burke Rd, Kew, 3101
Ph: 03 9816 9442 or 0402 201 235
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