Myths about Bullying in School

Instructor: David Wood

David has taught Honors Physics, AP Physics, IB Physics and general science courses. He has a Masters in Education, and a Bachelors in Physics.

There are many mixed messages and inaccurate information floating around about bullying in schools. It's important to address and contradict some of these myths. Here are answers to a few of the most common ones.

Myths About Bullying in School

Bullying is the use of aggressive behavior in the form of threats, intimidation, abuse, physical force, or coercion to dominate another person. Bullying is a major problem in schools across the Western world. It can have a huge impact on student self-esteem and confidence, affecting them for decades to come. We must do everything in our power to stop it when it happens and prevent it. One of the first steps in achieving this is through education. It turns out that there are a lot of myths about bullying in schools that are commonly believed and repeated. In this lesson, we'll going to go through a few of the most common myths about bullying that are prevalent in our society.

Bullying is Normal & Kids Need to Handle It

A lot of myths about bullying attempt to minimize it. They say that is a normal part of life, or that bullying helps toughen kids up, or that it is a rite of passage. None of these things are true. Bullying does nothing but harm to kids of all ages. Even if there isn't a law against bullying, that doesn't mean that we have to accept it. Nothing that a victim of bullying does justifies such poor treatment, and this must be explicitly taught. It is a behavioral problem with the bully, rather than the victim.

Another way that bullying can be minimized is through the claim that young people need to learn to deal with bullying. Some say that kids need to develop a thick skin and learn to ignore it. Others say that they need to stand up for themselves and be tougher, or employ humor and clever deflections. Regardless, the implication is that people who are bullied are somehow weak, and that this weakness is what bullies are preying on.

However the truth is that many bullies have psychological issues which cause them to crave attention, or try to control others in order to boost their own confidence. It is this desire for control over peers that may lead the bully into a series of escalating behaviors. The social problems that are reflected in bullying behavior can in some cases lead to antisocial behavior even into adulthood if the problem isn't resolved.

Bullies choose easy targets of any kind. That can include people who are physically less strong, or developmentally challenged. However it also includes people who are kind, gentle, and erudite, because such people are unlikely to be aggressive in return and are more likely to resolve problems using words instead of violence. Many of the character traits we try to promote in our children are the very traits which make them more likely to be bullied. These kinds of victims will either ignore the bully or try to resolve the conflict. However, due to the dysfunction and aggressiveness of the bully this is rarely successful. Dealing with bullying in an adult way can be literally impossible for a child.

Bullying is Physical

Contrary to what some people believe, bullying can be both mental and physical. Physical bullying is a form of assault that involves damaging another person's body. Mental bullying is where violence is perpetrated through taunts and social manipulation, causing psychological damage.

While both forms of bullying are damaging, many people seem to believe that physical bullying is more dangerous. However mental bullying can create the same degree as fear as physical bullying, and is psychologically damaging, destroying kids' self-esteem to the point of suicide in some tragic cases. Kids are very socially aware, and because they feel emotions so strongly - including embarrassment, shame, fear, and hurt - psychological bullying can have an enormous impact on them. Children are not equipped to handle bullying the way adults can be.

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