Are you being bullied? Or are you, knowingly or inadvertently, a bully? Bullying is defined as repeated intimidation towards a less powerful person or persons, and always involves power or control. Bullying can include physical abuse (or threat of abuse), however in adult settings it typically involves psychological rather than physical harm and is harder to recognize. Cyberbullying has become more commonplace than face-to-face bullying. Some examples of bullying include:
• Spreading lies or rumours
• Offensive jokes
• Insults, put-downs, backstabbing
• Sabotage, interference with completing assignments or group projects
• Excluding, isolating (e.g. not inviting a classmate to class activities; removing an individual from a class facebook or chat group; not informing a group member of a meeting)
• Silent treatment
• Constantly criticizing
• Stealing credit for someone else’s work
• Yelling, swearing or having a patronizing attitude
• Spreading demeaning comments about a person through social media or emails
• Discriminatory comments based on race, origin, religion, sex, sexual orientation, body shape or disability
Sexual harassment and discrimination are classified separately but involve bullying behaviour.
Bullying affects emotional, mental, physical, and possibly financial health. Depression and anxiety are common side effects and can result in not attending school, withdrawal from activities, low motivation and procrastination and/or dropping out.
Common reasons that people bully include:
– to mask their lack of confidence and low self-esteem
– to avoid being bullied; bullies have often been the target of bullying in the past
– to further their own agenda at the expense of others
– to sideline someone they feel is a threat
– to deny responsibility for their own behaviour.
There are different types of bullies: the mean, nasty, manipulative person who everyone is scared of; the competitive person who wants to do better than classmates and finds subtle ways to put them down, and the accidental bully who doesn’t realize his or her behaviour is offensive and just needs to be educated about the impact he or she is having. Accidental bullies will likely feel badly and apologize about their unintentional behaviour. There is a fourth category of bullying that is related to the effects of substance abuse and can lead to threatening, dangerous or paranoid behavior due to distorted decision-making caused by the substance.
What to do if you are being bullied:
• Realize that it is your absolute right under the Human Rights Act to feel safe and comfortable in your environment.
• Remember that the bully gets his or her power from your reaction. If you do not react by showing anger, fear or sadness there is a good chance the bullying will stop.
• Walk away. Generally it is not a good idea to interact with a bully however if you can remain calm and tell the bully you want the behavior to stop, explaining why it is unacceptable, that may be a good option. However do not retaliate – that is just lowering yourself to the bully’s level and letting them know he or she is getting a reaction.
• If things don’t improve, or if you feel scared or threatened, don’t keep it a secret. Talk to an instructor, a counsellor at Student Counselling, NAIT’s Ombudsperson (780-491-1305), or a trusted classmate, friend or family member.
• Remember that bullying and harassment will not be tolerated under NAIT’s Student Code of Conduct. Bullies will be dealt with severely and may be withdrawn from their program if their behavior does not improve. It is a good idea to keep a detailed written record of bullying incidents.
“The reason that bullying takes place at any age is because it is allowed to happen. When bullying is going on it needs to be shut down so the bullies don’t get the power that they are looking for.” (http:// nobullying.com/post-secondary-education) What you can do if you witness bullying:
• Let the targeted person know that you have witnessed the bullying and offer him or her support.
• Help the person come up with a plan of action that might include meeting with or writing to the bully, or seeking advice.
• Offer to go with him to meet with an instructor, counsellor or ombudsperson about the situation.
• Let him know his rights under the Student Code of Conduct
• If it is safe to do so, let the bully know that you have witnessed the behaviour and do not approve.
“While bullying itself is hurtful to the target, it is even more painful when their colleagues refrain from defending them. Nobody wants to be the first to challenge a bully since they might then become the target of further bullying. Once the first person speaks up in their defence, however, others are more likely to join in.” http://www.frameworks4learning.com/workplace-bullying.html
Pink Shirt Day has passed this year but do your part to support the anti-bullying campaign throughout the year.
Counsellors are available through Student Counselling and Chaplaincy. Personal counselling is free, confidential and available to all currently registered NAIT students.
Main Campus: Room W-111PB in the HP Centre: Counsellors are available from 8-4:30 with extended hours for apprentices. Book in person or by phoning 780-378-6133.
Souch Campus: Counsellor available Thursdays from 10-4. Book by calling 780-378-6133 or in person in Room Z-153.
Patricia Campus: Counsellor available Tuesdays from 10-4. Book by calling 780-378-6133.
– Margaret Marean, NAIT Student Councelling