Bullying presents itself in various forms namely overt/direct and covert/indirect forms. Overt/direct bullying involves physical acts such as hitting, biting, punching, shoving or kicking as well as verbal insults (name-calling, threats or insults). Covert/indirect bullying involves the not so visible acts such as cyber-bullying, gossiping, social exclusion, body language or damage to a person’s reputation.
Bullying is an ongoing problem in many schools in South Africa and it has a number of serious effects not only on the bullied/victim but also the bully and the bystander.
Effects on the bullied may include: Low self-esteem and trust in others; Depression and anxiety; Avoidant behaviour and social withdrawal; Changes in sleep and eating patterns; Emotional problems and fear of safety; Health complaints; Poor academic performance and likelihood of avoiding school; At risk for negative outcomes such as impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide.
Effects on the bully may include: Drop out of school; Damage to property; Drug and alcohol abuse in adolescence and as adults; Engage in violent and other risky behaviours into adulthood; Be an abusive partner in relationships.
Effects on the bystander may include: Smoking more often; Abusing alcohol or drugs; Increased mental health problems such as depression and anxiety; Bunking school out of fear.
What to do:
As a parent or teacher, reports of bullying should be taken seriously and investigated thoroughly. It’s important to understand exactly what happened, confirm that it was bullying and if so, follow your school’s bullying reporting process.
As a learner, if you are, or know of someone facing this kind of situation.
You should: Stop what you’re doing or observing; Block yourself from the person or situation; Tell someone immediately.