It is a sad fact that bullying, particularly in schools, is prevalent throughout the world, with Australia being no exception. It seems to be a part of human nature to try and dominate others in a group, and these lessons that are learned in school tend to stay with children more than the official education they receive.
Despite what a minority of people believe, any form of bullying can cause emotional problems, both at that time and later in life. Not only do the victims suffer, but some of the bullies do too.
It is not simply "a part of growing up", but something that needs to be stopped. With everyone working together, it can be.
School Bullying Facts
- 1 in 4 students are bullied in school,
- Onlookers are present in almost 90% of instances of bullying,
- 1 in 5 children aged 8 to 15, have experienced cyber-bullying,
- In 2013, an average of 22 complaints of cyber-bullying were lodged in every secondary school,
What Is Bullying?
In Australia, there is no nationally agreed definition of what constitutes bullying, which hampers efforts to fight the problem. The most commonly used measure of bullying behaviour is the Olweus Bully/Victim Questionnaire. While everyone thinks they know what bullying behaviour is, the details below will help clarify the problem.
Bullying is frequently about power, either real or perceived, being used aggressively and repeatedly to control or harm others. Repeatedly in this case can mean happening more than once, or have the potential to happen more than once. The power imbalances can be, but are not limited to, physical strength, access to embarrassing information, or even popularity variances.
Bullying includes such actions as threatening behavior, physical or verbal attacks, spreading rumors, or deliberately excluding someone from a group or activity. There is an overlap between bullying and harassment, with harassment being considered the lesser crime, but the reality is harassment is a form of bullying, if the victim feels belittled or threatened by it.
Bullying In Australian Schools
Among other studies done, recently over 20,000 students in Australian schools, aged from 8 to 14 completed surveys about bullying. The results were published in the Australian Covert Bullying Prevalence Study (ACBPS).
Sadly, these are just the reported statistics. Not all cases are reported, because many students feel that nothing can be done, so the true figures would be even more disturbing. Below are some of the distressing statistics that are currently available.
- Roughly 1 in 4 students (27%) have reported being bullied, from elementary to high school. This is lower than the 38% reported in 2006
- Hurtful teasing was reported as the most common bullying behavior, closely followed by lies.
- Bullying was more common for Year 5 students (32%) and Year 8 (29%).
- Bullying by females tended to be more covert, while males were more "in your face" about it.
- Peers are present in 87% of bullying interactions, mostly as onlookers who do nothing to help the victim.
- Racial bullying against Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islanders has actually improved compared to the 31% rate reported in 2005. Three years later the figure was down to 10%.
- While there is improvement in some of these figures, it is clear that a lot remains to be done to control bullying in Australia.
- Older students (or those with more access to technology) are more likely to cyber-bully than younger one.
- Over 80% of those who bullied others online would also do so offline.
- 84% of those who were bullied online were also victims of bullying behavior offline.
- A quarter of all cyber-bullies target people they do not even know.
- 64% of females from Years 6 to 12 reported being cyber-bullied.
- High cellphone usage makes cyber-bullying easier.
The resource also mentions that a vast majority of Australian schools reported dealing with at least one cyber bullying case last year, and on average, high schools dealt with 22 incidents of cyber bullying in 2013 alone, with one in three of those cases were serious enough they were referred to police.
Bullying is intentional cruelty, in a variety of forms. But regardless of the form, no person, young or old, should go through this. While some feel it is a normal right of passage to face this abuse in life, those undergoing the abuse certainly feel differently.
Everything that can be done, should be done to stamp this out at the earliest opportunities, teaching people that it is better to be nice than cruel. That is a simple message, but sometimes the most effective things are simple.