This month our Mat Chat topics revolve around bullying. In partnership with this I want to bring to the forefront some myths surrounding some of the beliefs I have come across during my years as a high school teacher and try to bring about some additional perspective.
It is often taught in school that the characteristics of a bully include someone that lacks social and interactive skills. Someone that may present as a bit of a loner or slightly removed from the social stratosphere. In more recent years, there has been two predominant groups of youth that have fallen under the banner of ‘most likely to bully’, the first is a reflection of the most commonly described bully who is generally more isolated from their peers, may struggle with anxiety or low self esteem themselves, tend to be less active in school and doesn’t seem to exhibit empathy.
The second type is almost the complete opposite. This youth is generally well-connected, has some social power, concerned about their popularity and exhibits quite a dominant and authoritative behaviour style when interacting with their peer group. There are definitely cross over characteristics, as there is no such thing as a cookie cutter bully, but these characteristics often grouped together.
As a teacher, I have witnessed some distressful bullying ranging from physical, verbal to digital and technological. It is important for parents to understand how bullying can occur given the many different pathways youths can take. I recently watched a film on Netflix called ‘A Girl Like Her’, which revolves around the story of a high school girl who is continually bullied by the well-connected and popular student. An intense film but highly recommended. Unfortunately, I have seen this type of bullying occur at my own school as a student, as well as a teacher. It is tough to police, but all it takes is a little student awareness and action plan to prevent events like these from progressing.