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Bullying is a systematic act in which one person deliberately and repeatedly makes another person feel bad, and it is difficult for the victim to defend themselves. In other words, the same student is being bullied repeatedly with deliberate and conscious actions, which puts the bully and the bullied in an unequal position. This means that the bully is either stronger, more popular, or older.

kiusamine illustratsioon
What is bullying at school?

Bullying can be visible (physical or verbal) or covert (rejection, rumour-mongering, cyber-bullying). Covert bullying is harder to spot, but one sign is often a change in the bullied student's mood or behavior. Bystanders have an important role in stopping bullying: if you learn about bullying or witness it, you have to intervene or call an adult for help.

Bullying can only continue and grow if bystanders condone it or pretend not to notice. If peers consider bullying unacceptable, it is more difficult to bully. Therefore, in order to stop bullying, it is important to understand your responsibility as a bystander and to stand up for the victim of bullying. Good group relations and acceptance of differences are also important in a bullying-free environment.
Types of bullying:

physical - hitting, pushing, blocking the path, obstructing, hiding things, etc.;

verbal - cursing, teasing, threatening, blackmailing, teasing and commenting, mocking, spreading rumors, etc.;

related to relationships - exclusion from the group, ostracizing, making faces, ignoring, etc.

How to deal with bullying at school?

It is important to remember that you are not alone, and there is always someone who can help you!

No one has the right to bully you! Know that you are not to blame for what is happening.

It is important that you talk about what is happening with an adult who is safe for you - either mother, father, grandmother, aunt, class teacher, social pedagogue, or school principal. Talking is very important to put a stop to bullying and for you to feel safe again.

You can always call 116 111 for help, ask for advice in chat or write to [email protected].

Remember! Talking about school bullying is not snitching but standing up for yourself and others! Do not accept bullying and violence! It is important to boldly intervene in situations where you notice that someone is being bullied. Bystanders or passersby always have a lot of power to stop bullying! Be sure to talk to a safe adult, even also if you know someone is being bullied.

It is the responsibility of the school to ensure a safe environment for its students. Students must feel good and safe at school. Effective bullying prevention and incident resolution practices should be designed and implemented in every school.

Source: Kiusamisvaba kool (EST)

What is cyberbullying?

Cyberbullying is when someone is deliberately and repeatedly harmed in cyberspace so that it is difficult for them to defend themselves. Cyberbullying can happen one-on-one, in a group, or in public. A cyberbully can also remain anonymous.

Examples: sending threatening messages and hurtful comments, making and distributing derogatory pictures and videos, communicating in an ugly manner or ostracizing in online games and forums-groups, creating fake accounts and distributing other's personal information for the purpose of hurting them, etc.

child with a phone

Cyberbullying hurts everyone

The bullied person may experience stress, anxiety, depression, hard feelings, and withdrawal, as well as difficulties with coping, concentration, learning, and relationships. You can't hide from cyberbullying, and it comes with you everywhere. Cyberbullying can leave a scar for life.

The bully may feel a short-term sense of power but also peer pressure to continue bullying and anxiety about possible consequences. Physical evidence remains from cyberbullying. Bullies also tend to have more difficulty managing their emotions, communication skills, and learning. Bullies have a higher risk of being involved in crime in the future.

Bystanders may experience greater stress and anxiety, insecurity and guilt because they do not know how to react, as well as the fear of being bullied themselves.

CYBER BULLYING CAN BE AN OFFENSE, punishable by fines or imprisonment. Creating a fake account can be an illegal use of another person's identity. Extortion is considered to be the demand for money or other material benefits in return for not disclosing embarrassing information. Distributing another person's images without permission is a copyright violation. Find out more from the online constables!

If you are being cyberbullied:

block the bully; notify the owner of the social portal about the bully's activities (report); copy or save hurtful posts in order to use them as evidence in a criminal case if necessary; talk to a trusted adult (parent, teacher, KiVa team, etc.) to get help and advice.

If you have been involved in cyberbullying yourself:

stop the bullying; delete all hurtful material to prevent further damage; try to repair the damage done; talk to a trusted adult who can help reduce the damage caused by bullying.

If you have noticed cyberbullying:

  • do not distribute bullying content;
  • let the perpetrator know that bullying is not OK;
  • save information as physical evidence, talk to a trusted adult;
  • inform the victim if the bullying is happening without their knowledge and offer support;
  • support the victim even if the bullying continues so that they do not feel alone.

Read more: Suurim julgus (EST/RUS), Targalt internetis (EN)

Source: Kiusamisvaba kool (EST)

What is not bullying?

Arguments and disagreements are not bullying!

Conflicts and disagreements are part of human relationships because we all have different understandings and desires. When striving for our goals, we don't always remember to consider the feelings of others. A class full of children is no exception here. There is nothing wrong with children and adolescents working out their differences because such situations teach them how to deal with feelings and resolve conflicts, even when the parties get angry.

Girls are looking at the screen

Arguments and disagreements are different from bullying because

  • they are transitory and short-lived;
  • the same child is not consistently targeted.

Teasing and making noise is not bullying because there is an atmosphere of mutual understanding and respect; the intention is not to hurt or offend anyone.

It is important that everyone understands what differentiates bullying from resolving disagreements. Sometimes words and actions intended as a joke can still hurt or upset others. In this case, it is important to make it known that the joke or game has crossed the line, and the other party should apologize.  

Read more: Kiusamisvaba kool (EST)

Why must bullying be prevented and reduced?

Bullying is a widespread problem with serious consequences that can permanently change the lives of both the bullied and the bully. Concomitant anxiety, depression, problems with self-esteem, or even suicidal thoughts can develop not only in the victim but also in the bully and even the bystander. Not to mention how difficult it is for a child who is a victim of bullying to focus on studies, which is why it is often neglected. Also, the potential of these students may remain unrealized precisely because of the insecurity, anxiety, etc., that arise due to bullying.

The consequences of bullying also affect the society as a whole. For example, being a victim of childhood bullying is directly linked to depression, suicidal thoughts, and other mental health problems, which result in a number of direct and indirect costs to the state. In cooperation with various supporters, Swedish bullying prevention has found out that school bullying that occurred in the country in one year cost the local society 17.5 billion Swedish krona (i.e., approx. 1.8 billion euros) during the next 30 years. Thus, by preventing and reducing bullying, we secure stronger, healthier, and more valuable members of society in the future!

Reading material: Under the leadership of the Office of the Estonian Ombudsman for Children and with the participation of Kristiina Treial, a management board member, and Ly Kasvandik, the chairman of the supervisory board of the Bullying-Free School, the advisory material "School free from bullying!"

Source: Kiusamisvaba kool (EST)

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