Bullying Myths and Facts
There have long been many misconceptions about the nature of bullying. Below is a brief quiz that presents some common questions and ideas that many people still have about this complicated problem.
1. Bullying is just a part of growing up. The effects of bullying on victims are short-term and minor.
False. In addition to the social, emotional, and physical torment of the actual bullying experience, victims are also more likely than non-victims to suffer from physical illnesses, academic troubles, and enduring mental health problems.
2. Bullying is not a serious problem for the bullies; they eventually grow out of this behavior.
False. Studies have established a strong correlation between bullying other students during the school years and experiencing legal or criminal troubles with violence as adults.
3. Most bullying occurs in high school because older students are more confident and willing to pick on others.
False. Some studies indicate that bullying is most prevalent during the elementary school years, while other studies indicate that it increases and peaks during the middle school years. However, it is clear that bullying – though certainly present in high school – is more prevalent among younger students.
4. Bullying is usually verbal, not physical, in nature.
True. While bullying can be physical, verbal, emotional, or sexual in nature, verbal bullying – including name-calling – is the most common form.
5. Bullies are usually insecure loners with low self-esteem.
False. Bullies are likely to have both friends and followers – in fact, they trend to be rather popular in the early school years. Furthermore, research indicates that bullies typically have average or above average levels of self-esteem and self-confidence.
6. Bullying is almost exclusively male behavior.
False. Both boys and girls bully, just in different ways. Male bullies are more likely than female bullies to engage in physical bullying; female bullies typically use verbal and emotional tactics.
7. Bullies don’t usually pick on passive students; instead, they bully in response to some sort of provocation from their victims.
False. Only 10-15% of victims actually provoke bullies into action. 80-90% of victims are passive, with many not even reporting that they have been bullied.
8. A bully usually attacks when no one else is watching.
False. Other students are watching as bystanders during most bullying incidents. In contrast, adults – such as teachers and parents – rarely observe bullies victimizing others.
9. Targets of bullies tend to be children with physical differences.
False. Bullies typically do not choose their victims based on physical attributes. Instead, they usually victimize those peers who display a cluster of psychological weaknesses that make them vulnerable to attack. Victims tend to reveal their poor self concepts, social withdrawal, anxiousness, depression, and fearfulness.
10. Most bullying happens at school.
True. Bullying most often occurs in and around schools – specifically in those areas where there is little or no adult supervision (e.g., playground, hallways, cafeteria, classroom before the lesson begins).