Bullying, no matter how severe, is never acceptable.
Nonetheless, bullying as a concept has existed throughout our civilization, manifesting itself in different forms over the years.
Bullying remains a serious issue in today’s age, especially for youth. It can be extremely problematic in the modern setting, as there are even more avenues for bullying to occur – cyberbullying unfortunately comes to mind.
Fortunately there are ways for youth and teens in Ottawa to cope with bullying. What’s important is to recognize what is occurring, understand how to (and how not to) react, and develop ways both to better one’s self confidence as well as create clear communication with the individual(s) responsible for the bullying.
What Constitutes Bullying?
The definition of bullying can be quite vague. The classic (and even stereotypical) one it’s the “neighbourhood bully” who’s a menace to kids around the area – or the school bully. More often nowadays bullying occurs in virtual ways, via social media and other internet means.
Most people agree that bullying is an abuse of power and influence.
This abuse is directed toward others in an intention to cause physical, mental, or emotional harm.
Bullying has been around for as long as anyone can remember. However, newer technologies have given rise to even more forms of bullying, which are just as harmful.
What does count as bullying? Some of the most common forms include:
- Physical bullying: Any type of bullying that has an intention to harm the victim physically counts as physical bullying. The victim does not necessarily need to become physically injured in these cases. Mere intent already counts.
- Social bullying: This type of bullying is more covert. Social bullying involves damaging someone’s reputation deliberately. Examples include spreading false rumours and social exclusion of the victim.
- Verbal bullying: This is one of the most common types of bullying. While hurtful words can seem more desirable compared to physical harm, these can still cause problems. These may leave emotional scars that can prove to be more problematic as time goes by. Examples include name-calling, hurling insults, or making racist and sexist comments.
- Cyberbullying: Cyberbullying has become more prevalent in recent years because of modern technology. Any type of bullying done on the internet, through mobile, or any type of technology counts as cyberbullying. Examples include hurtful messages, sabotaging a person through social media, targeted posts, and many more.
Bullying can be extremely harmful to the victim, regardless of type. That is the reason why no one should underestimate the effects of bullying, no matter the form.
The Impact of Bullying
Never underestimate the physical, mental, and emotional impact of bullying, however shallow they may seem.
These effects vary from person to person, and some more likely depending on the situation.
The victims of bullying face several negative repercussions regardless of the form that bullying comes. Victims are often impacted physically, mentally and emotionally in varying degrees.
In many cases, these negative repercussions may even link to each other. Some of the most common effects of bullying on victims are the following:
- Physical harm, varying in severity
- Emotional harm, which can lead to other problems
- Underperformance in school, work, and other analogous situations
- Low self-esteem or seeing oneself in a negative light
- Social withdrawal as a result of fear or embarrassment
- Intent to do self-harm or development of suicidal thoughts
More often than not, these effects cascade and cause other problems, the longer the bullying problem goes. Addressing the issue can help these problems from further escalating.
Bullies and Their Victims: The Trends
Anyone can have the capacity to become a bully.
Similarly, anyone can be a victim of bullying.
These cases happen everywhere, but some patterns have emerged. For instance, some of the most likely to get bullied are the following:
- Being seen as “different” from the norm
- Being seen as “weak” compared to others
- Those who are deemed less popular or with a lesser social standing
- Those with low self-esteem
Even if a person has some of the traits mentioned above, it does not mean that bullying will ensue. Situations may still vary.
On the other hand, factors that make people more likely to become bullies are the following:
- Their concern with social status
- The presence of self-esteem problems
- Tendency for violence
- Peer pressure
Again, possessing any of the attributes mentioned above does not make a person a bully. It still depends on individual choices, outlook and experiences.
How Can Youth Counselling Address Bullying?
Bullying can be tricky to deal with.
One of the safest methods that victims can undergo is therapy.
Youth therapy, especially, can help children and teenagers that struggle with bullying. Some of the benefits include the following:
1. Preventing self-blame
In many cases of bullying, the victims sadly point the finger at themselves for being bullied.
Many victims blame themselves for possessing or lacking the traits that caused them to become targets.
The victim is rarely if ever “at fault” when it comes to bullying. The fault rests with those who carry out the act.
Unfortunately, it is a fact that many victims of bullying have difficulty recognizing. Self-blame is all too common, and this can lead to problems like low self-esteem and emotional issues.
Counselling, however, can help change this.
2. Embracing individuality
Everyone is unique in their own way. This uniqueness should never be used to target anyone for bullying.
Sadly, targeting an individual for being unique happens more often than what most people would expect. People who appear to others as “different” are among those that are the most bullied.
Undergoing counselling can significantly help the victims of bullying in this aspect.
Therapists can help victims see the value of their unique qualities. Successful therapy can even lead to increased appreciation of people with their unique individual traits.
3. Strengthen decision-making skills
It can be challenging to think clearly when faced with a tricky situation, such as being bullied.
How a person acts in this situation can profoundly impact the outcome of the bullying incident. Thinking clearly and deciding appropriately can help a person stand up and resist bullying.
For people with a history of being bullied, reinforcing decision-making skills can be quite helpful. That is another skill with which counselling can help.
4. Building resilience
Therapy can benefit everyone since it can help people develop useful traits.
Resilience is one of these traits. A resilient person can weather through problems and stressors without letting these severely affect one’s well-being.
The victims of bullying can vastly benefit by developing resilience, perhaps more so than others. Being bullied can be a very harrowing experience.
Developing resilience can help a victim deal with many of the stressful issues that accompany bullying.
5. Building assertiveness
Being assertive can prevent a person from being a target of bullying.
Being assertive comes more naturally to some people compared to others. While passivity is not necessarily a bad thing, everyone needs to learn how to assert themselves when needed.
Therapy can aid people in developing assertiveness with the help of a counsellor. While this is not a deterrent against bullying, it can still help.
6. Confronting negative thoughts and emotions
Negative thoughts, if left unchecked, can lead to an entire host of problems.
That applies to everyone, although those involved in cases of bullying may be more affected. In fact, it impacts both the bullies and the victims.
For the victims of bullying, common negative thoughts and emotions are anger, sadness, and feelings of helplessness. These thoughts can further cascade into other harmful emotions that can severely affect the victim.
Counselling can prevent this cascade from happening by addressing these issues.
For bullies, some common traits are aggression and self-esteem problems. The victims of bullying are not the only ones that can benefit from counselling. Seeing a therapist can help bullies address the issues they may have. Doing so can stop them from targeting others.
7. Reinforcing communication skills and other social skills
Counselling can help people develop valuable communication and social skills.
These skills may serve as bullying deterrents.
Strong communication skills can help individuals express their thoughts properly. This ability is sorely needed, especially in situations when they need to voice out their concerns.
Good social skills, on the other hand, can help a person assess social situations and act on them appropriately.
8. Addressing emotional and mental disorders
Some victims of bullying develop issues with their mental or emotional health.
There are also cases wherein the bullies themselves struggle with problems regarding mental health. However, some of the most common issues that victims may develop are:
- Emotional instability
- Post-traumatic stress disorder, also known as PTSD
Cases of bullying can also aggravate some existing mental health issues in the victims.
One of the best ways of addressing these issues is by seeing a professional therapist. A therapist can help prevent these conditions from developing or further worsening.
9. Addressing self-harm
Self-harm is one of the most serious consequences that some victims of bullying have.
Some people even develop suicidal thoughts as a result. Never take these cases lightly.
If you or someone you know might be contemplating suicide or even displays suicidal tendencies, please seek help immediately.
The best type of intervention for these situations is to have them see a therapist.
An experienced therapist can help address the issue of self-harm and help the victim manage suicidal thoughts healthily.
Bullying Can Be Conquered!
Bullying can happen anywhere, and anyone can become a victim.
Utmost vigilance helps prevent these cases from further escalating.
If you or anyone you know have become victims of bullying, your best path forward is to talk with someone who’s well versed in bullying and how to survive and regain your life. Remember, seeking help is a sign of strength. Make the right choice: Choose a Better Life!
Capital Choice has been serving Ottawa, Kanata, and neighbouring areas since 2006. Get in touch with us today, and get started on a path to a better life.