What is Bullying? What Can We Do About It?

11/12/2018

What is Bullying? 

Bullying can be defined as the repeated actions or threats of action directed toward a person by one or more people who have or are perceived to have more power or status than their target in order to cause fear, distress or harm. Bullying can be physical, verbal, psychological or any combination of these three. (Anti-Defamation League) 

Unfortunately, bullying is common in schools across the country, and Mount Greylock is not an exception. Bullying is an issue that must be discussed and worked through, as problems have emerged recently in both the middle school and high school. Peer Team wants to provide advice to students about recognizing and helping with bullying issues. 

Reminder: Come see a Peer Team member or another adult to report instances of bullying at any time! We are here to help you!

How to look out for bullying:

Bullying comes in many different forms. Sometimes it is very noticeable, but sometimes a specific focus is necessary to notice it. Here are some ways to be on the lookout for your friends and peers who may be suffering from bullying:

Is someone sitting alone at lunch or standing alone during gym? This might be a sign that peers are excluding him or her. Exclusion is a form of bullying, and it is less likely to be noticed by outsiders. Being excluded in this way causes targeted students to feel powerless. Some ways to address this issue include checking up on the person being excluded and trying to understand who is excluding them and why. Maybe you could include this person at your lunch table or group in gym class! Remember how easy it can be to "Start With Hello!" A simple conversation might go a long way.

Is someone being pushed into lockers between classes? This is a physical form of bullying. An action like this can severely hurt someone physically and emotionally, whether or not the people involved are friends. The person being pushed into the locker, even if they may not be physically hurt, is being mistreated for some reason that should be addressed. You can address this issue by notifying someone else, like a teacher or a peer team member. You can also check in with the victim of this incident to gain better insight of the situation.

Is someone calling someone else "funny nicknames?" This is a verbal form of bullying, and sometimes people assume that the targeted student does not care about being called different names because they may not act offended. Behind the scenes, however, these names do inflict pain on the targeted student. What you can do in this situation is address the bully, privately or outwardly depending on the situation. You can also check up on targeted students to understand their feelings about the situation. 

These are just some situations of bullying that have taken place at Mount Greylock. There are other situations that you can look out for and help with as well. For more detail on how to deal with the situation, read the section below:

The following steps depend on the situation you are in. Please keep this in mind as you go about resolving an issue.


What Should I do When I See Bullying?

The following steps depend on the situation you are in. Please keep this in mind as you go about resolving an issue.

1. Decide if you need to respond immediately or if action can wait until later.  Depending on the situation, you might need to intervene on the spot to stop the incident immediately. Other times you might need to wait until after the incident to communicate with the bully or the victim in order to not call attention to the scene. You can always talk to a targeted student about what strategies they think would be best for you to use to help them. 

2. Assess the potential safety risks if you take action right away. If you are intervening with a bullying situation, whether its verbal, emotional, or physical, you should consider both your own safety and the safety of others. If necessary, ask an adult to intervene. It is important to understand that addressing an incident in front of a group of people may draw attention to the victim, making the situation more uncomfortable and / or dangerous. 

3. Determine if the situation requires adult assistance. A teacher, nurse, guidance counselor, parent, or relative might be the better option for dealing with the situation if the targeted student is at immediate risk of danger or the situation is not solvable by students alone. Take a stand by asking for help. You can also get help from any Peer Team member. 

4. Assess the targeted student's needs, including physical and emotional safety. Take some time to talk privately with the victim of the bullying situation. Ask them considerate questions about how their situation makes them feel, what you can do to help, and explain that you are here to support them. 

5. Commit to providing support to the targeted student after the incident.  Be an ALLY! Bullying has lasting effects on targeted students, and sometimes it is hard to tell if a situation made a person upset because they try to conceal their feelings. Being targeted by peers is always hard to deal with, and your support could go a long way. Be an ally to the targeted student by offering support, helping them through the situation, and doing what you can to prevent further incidents even if that means asking for help from other people. 

Peer Team learned about these steps from our training with the Massachusetts Anti-Defamation League, an organization promoting justice and striving for fair treatment of all people. For more information, check out this website: https://www.adl.org/education/resources/tools-and-strategies/table-talk/what-bullying-is-and-is-not