Bullying—It’s Not Just a Physical Thing

image-300x300Long-time Boxing Coach, Chuck Horton, has seen the ill-effects of bullying firsthand. He has been working for years to empower troubled children and teens who are the victims of bullying. He combats bullying by teaching the kids of Duluth the art of boxing. Chuck believes that boxing, which helps improve confidence and instill discipline, can serve as an antidote to the toxic effects of bullying.  This is the first installment of a 7-part series, authored by Roxanne Wilmes, about the phenomenon of bullying, and how it negatively effects both its perpetrators and victims. 

For most of us the term bullying conjures up images of larger-than-average kids shaking down smaller kids for their lunch money.  That is of course one form of bullying, but today’s methods have become far more advanced.  In addition to physical bullying, there are also verbal, cyber, and covert or hidden techniques.

Verbal bullying is probably what you would think it is; people saying things to hurt or discredit another person.  But it can also be the unwanted sexual comments made to a person or taunts as a person walks by. This type of abuse is more difficult to prove and therefore makes it harder for teachers to intervene and stop it.  That is probably why it is so prevalent amongst school-aged children.  Students, however, may get some relief by just discussing it with a trusted adult at school.

Covert bullies may be the most difficult to track down and punish.  In this circumstance, the victim may be excluded from social activities, be the subject of vicious rumors, or be completely ostracized at school.  Even though the guilty party started the ball rolling, it’s highly likely that the message morphed into something much worse as it was passed from student to student.  If a school professional does catch wind of the issue and narrows down a source, it’s no longer the same message.  Could that be enough to call the bully innocent then in this circumstance?  It could be. 

Cyber bullying is the newest form of bullying.  It can involve texting or instant messaging, or humiliation and/or threats on social media sites.  The ultimate goal is to get the other person to feel bad about himself.  The ability to enter many sites and post anonymously affords ample opportunity to cyber bullies.  Although the harassment is taking place via technology, its effects are very present in the real world.  Students who are victims of cyber bullying can suffer severe depression, harm themselves, or even become suicidal.

The most important thing to remember about bullying is communication.
The most important thing to remember about bullying is communication.

Cyber bullies can be caught, however.  Often times a child will know the other student and can recognize a phone number that is involved in texting.  Or maybe they can print out or forward screen shots of the offensive messages.  If law enforcement needs to get involved with a computer-related case, they may be able to trace the IP address and narrow down the computer involved in the online bullying.

The most important thing to remember about bullying is communication.  If parents have good communication with their children, and open dialogue regarding appropriate behavior, children will be more likely to discuss issues they encounter.  If a child is being bullied at school, parents need to have a conversation with someone at the school and find out what they’re going to do to stop it.  If a child is being cyber bullied, block the senders.  If the messages are threats or are encouraging your child to harm himself, report as much detail as possible to the police.  

Author: Roxanne Wilmes