Bullying is more than name-calling on the playground; it is a form of verbal, physical and emotional abuse that can lead to the development of mental health disorders such as depression and anxiety as well as behavioral disorders. Although cyberbullying is an increasingly popular form of bullying, more traditional forms of bullying are still more common than one may imagine. Whether battling rumors about their sexual orientation, enduring the criticism of their clothes or getting pushed around at recess, kids and adults are bullied offline all the time. While it’s hard to stereotype bullying behavior in every school in every town in America, experts agree that at least 25 percent of students across the nation are bullied in traditional ways: hit, shoved, kicked, gossiped about, intimidated or excluded from social groups. There are many misconceptions about bullying that need to be debunked in order for individuals to understand the seriousness of this dangerous behavior.
Myth: All bullies are loners and have no friends
Fact: Many bullies are trying to climb the social ladder to gain popularity.
Most bullies have low-self esteem or have been bullied themselves and are using this tactic as a way to control and manipulate other individuals. Bullies want to be liked, they want to be popular and they usually use bullying tactics as a way not only to make themselves feel better but as a way to gain supporters.
Myth: Individuals who are bullied are bullied because they have a victim mentality.
Fact: Individuals with all personalities are bullied.
Not all individuals who are bullied are shy and withdrawn; many have outgoing personalities and have a high level of confidence however they are bullied simply because the bully chose to pick on them. The blame and responsibility for the bullying fall on the bully, not the target. Additionally, labeling individuals by saying they have a victim personality lets the bully off the hook and implies that if there were something different about the victim, the bullying would have never happened.
Myth: Bullying is easy to spot
Fact: Most forms of bullying are done in conspicuous places, behind closed doors or on social media behind fake accounts.
Bullying is not just hitting on punching on the playground. Many kids will bully their victims in private or when nobody is watching. Many individuals will verbally assault others when the scene is mostly obsolete or will hide behind fake social media accounts online. Bullies do not want to get caught and therefore they will try to do damage when nobody else is watching. This is why it is so important for the victim to tell an authority figure about what is occurring. Even if parents and teachers are watching for signs of bullying, it may go unidentified if nobody speaks up.
Myth: Bullying only takes place among kids
Facts: Adults can be the biggest bullies.
Although bullying does occur among children, adults can be vicious towards each other. Adults can exclude other adults at social gatherings, start rumors, slander other on social media and replicate the same nerve-racking hierarchies they are so quick to condemn on the playground.
Myth: There are no laws against bullying
Fact: Certain acts of bullying can be criminalized by law by the Equalities Act 2010.
Other types of bullying may be covered by the Harassment Act of 1997. Upsetting messages which are sent online or via the post may be covered by the Malicious Communications Act 1998 or by the Communications Act 2003.