Most of us (teachers and students alike) have experienced good-natured teasing that is done in fun. Some sibling relationships and friendships are built on them! But how do we know when this behaviour has crossed the line?
When are students no longer “just kidding,” but participating in deliberately mean behaviour?
Although there is no universal definition of “Bullying”, a “Bully” is defined as a person/people who use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to feel or do something.
Types of Bullying
Bullying is divided into four basic types of abuse – emotional (sometimes called relational), verbal, physical, and cyber.
Individual or group
Bullying ranges from one-on-one, individual bullying through to group bullying called mobbing, in which the bully may have one or more “lieutenants” who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities (think about the Mean Girls movie).
More often than not, most behaviour from students in school is friendly teasing as they navigate learning, developing relationships with peers and generally growing up.
Signs of students good-natured joking:
However, everyone has a different tolerance level and sense of humour, it is important to remember that what is not deemed offensive or hurtful to one student, may be to another.
Signs of student Bullying
Some forms of bullying are harder to detect than others, physical bullying can be seen, verbal bullying can be overheard, but cyber bullying can fly under the radar.
Signs of bullying can also depend on the phase/type of school, the student, the students home environment and generally the students personality and characteristics. In the UK each school will have their own policy on bullying which will help with defining acceptable behaviours and suitable consequences.
However you know your students better than anyone, and there are some general signs that teachers can monitor in school:
Learning about Bullying
Should you suspect any form of bullying from a student, remember to deal with the situation as soon as possible, in a calm and collected manner and in accordance with the bullying policy you have in place at your school.
If you have any doubt in how to handle a situation, always seek advice from a fellow colleague or more experienced team member.