My friend beat me and I beat him back

Photo by Bich Tran from Pexels

Bullying is an unwanted, aggressive behaviour among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious lasting social, behavioural and emotional problems. According to a study by the Singapore Children's Society, 1 in 5 primary school students surveyed has been a victim of bullying. For secondary school, 1 in 4 students is a victim of bullying.

Bullying is now widely considered as a systematic abuse of power and the intention is to put the victim in an emotional distress and helpless situation, in some way. Bullying is distinct from interpersonal conflicts to "rough play". While disagreement, teasing, and conflict are part of growing up, bullying is an extreme form of peer conflict or teasing which can be harmful, socially, emotionally and psychologically.

Examples of school bullying include:

  • Physical fighting;

  • Name calling;

  • Social exclusion;

  • Cyber bullying;

  • Spreading rumours and gossip; or

  • Distributing hurtful or embarrassing messages or pictures.

The most prevalent bullying behaviour is name calling or using vulgarities on the victims and may not cause obvious damage (i.e. physical) to the victims. As such, adults often dismiss the victim’s plea for help. Victims usually feel angry and sad, and often would conceal their real feelings by saying they feel ‘OK.'

Children who bully are more likely to:

  • Do poorly in school;

  • Turn to violence as a way to deal with problems;

  • Damage property or steal;

  • Abuse drugs or alcohol; and

  • Get in trouble with the law.

Adults should be especially cautious if the victims expressed such feelings. Some victims also exhibit more destructive behaviours like damaging properties, hurting animals or other people, and even themselves.

Hema Gurnani