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Why bullying is not child’s play

Bullying is about aggression. Fear in the child victim and the indifference of adult society fuel it. People’s refusal to intervene or report the incidents, thinking they’re only child’s play, makes it an extremely difficult problem to solve.

Domination, too. There has to be a huge power imbalance in order to carry out the act. No bully would dare face another kid twice his size and mass topped with an angrier disposition. The bully always makes sure he or she has the upper hand by preying on ‘weaker’ or ‘smaller’ individuals.

If not physically taller or bigger, then some level of training may be employed to bully another. As in the case of that bully from Ateneo, who by all measures was smaller, he used his martial art’s skills to dominate taller schoolmates.

As expected in most cases, bullies do not operate alone. They are either the head of a gang of misfits or they have one or two tagging along for the juvenile joyride. Oftentimes these ‘sidekicks’ play the role of videographer or back-up muscle, should other students choose to intervene.

For an act to be labeled ‘bullying,’ it must be systematic. There must be a level continuity and frequency to the display of aggression. While available statistics vary in the Philippines, this much is certain according injectable steroids to studies: back in 2010, roughly 2.7 million students suffered bullying victimization each year with 160,000 choosing to miss school because of it.

Based on the same study, more anavar stacks male students were bullied than females. However, I couldn’t download the study, so I shifted to another, more recent document.

According to a 2017 research by Scientific Research Publishing done by Margaret S. Sanapo of the College of Policy Science, Ritsumeikan University, Ibaraki-Osaka, Japan, “40.6% or roughly four out of 10 Filipino children experienced bullying from their peers. This prevalence rate is comparable to two studies done in the Philippines (Jacobsen & Fleming, 2009; Rudatsikira et al., 2008).

For a more exhaustive reading, you can download the study here: https://file.scirp.org/pdf/PSYCH_2017121915525258.pdf

The following charts will give you a bird’s eye view of the conclusions made by the study:

What is disturbing about the issue is that while teachers can be trusted to immediately intervene when bullies are caught in the act of bullying another child, very few, according to the study, actually report the incidents to the Committee on Child Protection.

The study says: “Although teachers or school personnel are expected to report the bullying incidence they have witnessed personally to the committee of child protection to which the guidance counselor is a member, only few did so according to participants. In fact, there were only 9% of respondents who indicated this type of response to bullying from their teachers or class advisers. About the same number (10%) said that their teachers informed parents of children involved in the bullying incident. The remaining 3% of participants indicated that their educators have done nothing about the bullying case they have witnessed.”

This conclusion was echoed Mr. Sonny Santos, a popular online media-based leadership development strategist, often consulted by mainstream media on issues like cyber-bullying.

On the issue of whether the Philippines has an efficient child protection program or not, Santos said: “According to the consolidated report of Department of Education (Dep Ed), bullying cases on elementary and high school of both private and public schools on 2014 rose by 21% or a total of 6,363 cases, compare with the 5,236 on 2013. This translates to 31 daily bullying cases from a divisor of 201 school days. The statistics was disclosed by Rep. Gerald Anthony Gullas Jr., a member of the House committee on basic education. [Source: Interaksyon]

“Bullying cases are rampant. However, it remains under reported prior to the anti-bullying act. This is understandable, since no parents or even school administration would like his/her family or school to be famous because of bullying. Schools, however, must mitigate the effects and reduce the incidence of bullying, and should comply with the Implementing Rules and Regulations of the Anti-bullying law of 2013 to address the root causes of bullying” (http://asksonnie.info/statistics-bullying-cases-up-by-21-in-philippine-schools/).

Damage done to the bullied child not only goes beyond the physical, the psychological and emotional wounds last over several years, even into adulthood.

Alice G. Walton of Forbes magazine reports: “The participants were also twice surveyed when they were between 19 and 26, answering questions about their current mental health. In this way, the team could determine whether they suffered from mental health disorders like depressive disorders, anxiety disorders (like generalized anxiety, PTSD, OCD, and others), substance dependence, and antisocial personality disorder, as per the DSM-4.

“Kids who had been victims only (who never bullied others) had greater risk for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia as adults”(https://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/02/21/the-psychological-effects-of-bullying-last-well-into-adulthood-study-finds/#518fbbef1592).

Walton, however, adds a more frightening scenario: “But worse off were kids who were both bully victims and bullies – they experienced all types of depressive and anxiety disorders, and suffered most severely from suicidal thoughts, depressive disorders, generalized anxiety and panic disorder, compared with the other groups of participants. In fact, about 25% of these participants said they had suicidal thoughts as young adults, and about 38% had panic disorder.”

Genevra Pittman of Reuters reported in 2013, “ In the new study, depression and anxiety tied to bullying at school persisted at least through people’s mid-twenties. Worst off were those who had been both bullies and targets of bullying, according to findings published Wednesday in JAMA Psychiatry”(https://www.reuters.com/article/us-psychological-bullying/psychological-effects-of-bullying-can-last-years-idUSBRE91K12K20130221).

BullyingStatistics.org paints an even bleaker picture:

Bullying and Suicide

“The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:

* Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it;

* Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University;

* A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying;

* 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above;

* According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30% of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying.”

Sarah Napton of the Telegraph reports in 2018 of the very real dangers of bullying and cyberbullying as sourced from the Journal of Medical Internet Research: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/science/2018/04/22/cyberbullying-makes-young-people-twice-likely-self-harm-attempt/

“The growth of social media has left many youngsters vulnerable to online bullying, which can include sending threatening, humiliating of intimidating messages or posting hurtful comments or images.

“Around one third of young people claim to have been victims, but the new research suggests it can have damaging and deadly consequences.

“Researchers at the Universities of Oxford, Swansea and Birmingham reviewed previous studies on cyberbullying which involved more than 150,000 under-25s across 30 countries over a 21-year period.

“They found that cyberbullying raised the risk of self-harm or suicidal behaviour 2.3 times.”

“Perpetrators were also around 20% more likely to have self-harmed or attempted suicide than non-bullies.”

 

My purpose in writing this is to raise awareness on the very real dangers associated to bullying. The Philippines has a law–Republic Act (RA) 10627, otherwise known as the Anti-bullying Law of 2013–which states clearly the roles of school administrations on how to address this problem.

The school faculty, including its administrators and owners, should address this problem without first thinking of their school’s ‘reputation’. ACTS OF BULLYING SHOULD NOT BE KEPT A SECRET TO PROTECT THE SCHOOL’S REPUTATION. Rather, it should be brought out into open. Schools would have a better reputation by dealing severely with bullying.

In Sec. 4 of the said Republic Act:

“Any member of the school administration, student, parent or volunteer shall immediately report any instance of bullying or act of retaliation witnessed, or that has come to one’s attention, to the school principal or school officer or person so designated by the principal to handle such issues, or both. Upon receipt of such a report, the school principal or the designated school officer or person shall promptly investigate. If it is determined that bullying or retaliation has occurred, the school principal or the designated school officer or person shall: (a) Notify the law enforcement agency if the school principal or designee believes that criminal charges under the Revised Penal Code may be pursued against the perpetrator; (b) Take appropriate disciplinary administrative action; (c) Notify the parents or guardians of the perpetrator; and (d) Notify the parents or guardians of the victim regarding the action taken to prevent any further acts of bullying or retaliation. If an incident of bullying or retaliation involves students from more than one school, the school first informed of the bullying or retaliation shall promptly notify the appropriate administrator of the other school so that both may take appropriate action.”

While it would take a whole book to exhaustively discuss all related issues about bullying, let this suffice for now.

My own conclusions based on research and people I have interviewed through the years:

(1) Aggression engenders aggression. Bullying, hence, creates conditions where the victim may one day become another bully. This is one of the reasons why bullying is extremely difficult to address: it stands as the very dynamo that creates other bullies;

(2) Empowered by lack of correctional strategies and systems to address the problem, instances of bullies crossing the line of rape and murder have been found. Victimization is real, and so are the psychological and emotional damage done to the victim, which, according to several reports and studies, go well into adulthood. Suicide, as a means to escape bullying, is also very real.

(3) Underreported and mostly treated with indifference (thought to be child’s play by many adults, a sort of acceptable coming-of-age ritual among children), bullying engenders an atmosphere of silence. Schools, which are more anxious about their reputations than the protection of the child, are doing a grave disservice to their students;

(4) The Philippines has a law against bullying. Parents of bullied children should use it to their advantage–not for retaliatory purposes, but to nip the problem in the bud. This, however, doesn’t mean I agree with lowering the age of criminal liability. In my opinion, putting the responsibility of looking after our children in the hands of the State is a cowardly act. Discipline and time spent with children must begin at home. No official will lay a hand on my child.

(5) Lastly, society must rage against bullying. There is nothing wrong with showing these bullies society’s anger, that we will not sit idly by while they abuse, threaten, beat, harass, hurt and humiliate our children, even force them to the brink of suicide–minors or otherwise makes no difference.

These bullies should be made aware of the fact that their decisions and actions have consequences. That’s life. Live with it.

While I would not suggest bullying the bully in retaliation for his smugness and aggression against our loved ones, it must be made clear to them that unless they change their ways, society will be there to hound them.

As for the victim, I have this advice: Let someone know. Tell your parents, a friend, your sibling. Silence only worsens the problem.

If caught between a bully and his friends, but there’s a way out, I suggest you push and run. As fast as you can. Keep your face and head down. Go to a crowded place. There’s no indignity in running away from a possible bullying incident. That’s not cowardice. It’s living to fight another day.

However, if you’re caught between a bully and a wall—if you’re alone, cornered, with no way out—then fight with everything you’ve got. Your cellphone, your book, your bag—these are your friends. Use them to parry the blows. Don’t fall into bully’s suggestion that you should fight fair-empty-handed. Learn this early on: there’s no such thing as a fair fight.

It’s scary, yes, I should know. But unless you stand up for your honor, they will not stop hounding you. Bullies do not listen to reason. A bloody lip is the only language they know. I suggest you give them one. A tip: don’t let them see your fist coming. Right up the nose or jaw. Channel all your fear and anger there. Hell, kick their shin (I would choose to land a knee right up their nuts, but that’s me).

Then report the incident. You have the right to defend yourself.

 

*For more about bullying, you may check out an article I wrote on the subject in 2009, which was published in the BusinessMirror and ABS-CBN News: Click on the link.

https://news.abs-cbn.com/features/09/11/09/grabbing-bully-horns-violence-schools

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