Bullying can come in all shapes and sizes. From physical hitting and pushing around, to name calling and exclusion.
The physical is a little more obvious and clear cut as bullying. The name calling and emotional bullying can be a little harder to identify and deal with. What is meant purely as a joke and what is bullying?
If a name is used as a one-off it may be a joke. However, if the name calling becomes persistent and regular, then this is bullying, especially if you have asked them to stop. This is called verbal bullying. Verbal bullying can be anything about weight, appearance, racist, sexual or homophobic bullying. Name calling has been around for what may seem forever but for someone who is on the receiving end of this, it can often have devastating consequences.
Why do people Verbal Bully?
There are several reasons people bully. Some possible reasons are:
- They might be doing this to impress their friends or build up some type of reputation
- They may have been bullied themselves and to deflect the attention or because they are angry, they go onto bully someone else
- They might be enjoying the attention or reaction
- They might be having problems at home or at school so they are taking this out on someone else
- Lack of self-esteem of confidence so they act in a negative way
- They might be angry and frustrated and looking to take things out on someone else
What should you do?
Verbal bullying is both the hardest and easiest form of bullying to deal with. Verbal bullying works because the words hurt. As a victim you may already be conscious of things about yourself you don’t like. Having someone else point these things out in a nasty way can and does hurt. If a teacher or parent gets involved the bullying may be stopped. Once someone ‘stops’ bullying you the words still exist in your head. They can’t be taken back.
To illustrate this I recently posted a picture on our Facebook page, Twitter and Instagram. The picture simply said Coach Lee Sucks. It was shared by just 35 people but has been seen by just over 1000 people on Facebook. That’s not including the Twitter and Instagram shares. Even if I deleted this photo now, those 1000+ people have still seen it. I can’t take it back.
The simplest way to deal with verbal bullying is to ignore it. Not simply not showing a reaction, but really ignore it. They are just words, untrue words! If the words can’t hurt you then the bullying has no meaning. One of my favourite musicals is Wicked (everybody should see that if they get the chance).
There’s a line in one of the songs that says “It’s all in which label is able to persist”. If you choose to accept the label someone gives you it will continue to be used. One of my favourite sayings for students is “You’re not a kettle”.
If I call a student a kettle I look silly, kettle’s are not people. They do not have arms or legs or heads. A person is not a kettle. That analagy applies for other names people call you. You’re not a loser. You’re not stupid. You’re not ugly. It’s no different to being called a kettle. It just makes the bully look silly. Once you realise it’s the bully that is being silly, it becomes easier to ignore. Not easy, just easier.
Remember, you’re not a kettle!