Bullying

Bullying is a form of targeted antisocial behaviour that can cause serious and long-lasting harm to a victim while creating positive social, psychological and material rewards for a bully.

bully1While a lot of energy and focus has gone into raising awareness about the issue of bullying in recent years, more work needs to be done at the individual level to address the root causes and affect behavioural change. This work is best carried out one-on-one or in small groups where individual and social dynamics can be addressed specifically and tailored solutions can be developed. The roots of bullying are varied. If individual causes are left unaddressed in children and youth, those who are bullied are likely to re-experience victimization even after a school change or a move and as they enter the workforce. As well, those who bully are likely to carry the behaviour into adulthood where the methods through which this happens become more sophisticated and difficult to detect and remedy.

SAFE International’s Bullying Curriculum takes this into account and is designed to address the underlying influences of bullying both individually and within social dynamics, where environments of reward for bullies and isolation for victims are often co-created by others unintentionally. While the course is framed within the context of self-defense and personal protection, physical skills are a small portion of the self-defense paradigm as a solution for violence. Safe International’s bullying curriculum tackles a wide range of factors:

  • how to identify bullyingbully
  • addressing behavioural, psychological and emotional links to bullying and victimization
  • training violence prevention and de-escalation of aggressive behaviour
  • myth-busting ineffective strategies for dealing with antisocial violence and behaviours including bullying
  • building effective interpersonal skills
  • legal, moral and ethical approaches to self-protection
  • addressing the social context of bullying
  • supporting support systems with credible information and skills
  • tailoring our approach when possible to specific bullying cases within the learning environment

Each year, SAFE International™ reaches more than 10,000 high school students with evidence-backed information and effective skills for preventing violence, protecting themselves and others, and using a legal, moral and ethical approach to safety. The bullying curriculum can be integrated into in-class high school self-defense instruction, or delivered in depth as a standalone program.

The program is also designed to address bullying throughout various stages of life in a variety of environments including at work, at home and online. A tailored program can be developed from our core curriculum to address individual cases and we encourage this approach when possible.

Supporting Victims

bully2The effects of bullying on victims are varied and include mental health consequences like depression, suicide, drug and alcohol use and dependency, loss of purpose in life, social withdrawal, negative impacts on school or work performance, and isolation from relationships or groups that otherwise support wellbeing and positive development.  It is a myth that being bullied will toughen someone up over time.

SAFE International’s approach to supporting victims includes:

  • building confidence and resiliency
  • teaching new skills and strategies to deal with bullies effectively from a legal, ethical and moral perspective
  • supporting support systems with credible information and effective skills

Supporting Learning and Positive Growth in Bullies

Research about why bullies do what they do suggests a variety of causes ranging from abuse at home; mental health issues; aggressive predispositions; learned behaviours; or simply aggressive approaches to self-reward either via gained self-esteem, peer esteem, and/or material gain.

Regardless of cause, SAFE International™ believes that effectively addressing bullying behaviour requires an empathetic approach:

  • not singling out bullies in a group setting
  • demystifying the difference between social and antisocial violence and behaviour
  • including a bully in a positive group dynamic that enables self-reflection on aggressive and violent behaviours, the roots of these behaviours, and pathways for positive change

Creating Safe Environments

There are many actors, factors and environments that contribute to bullying in cause and also in remedy. School and workplace policies, peer actions or inactions, anti-violence paradigms of thought or belief, and socially co-created systems of isolation and reward all affect the dynamics of bullying.

Our approach includes sharing credible information that empowers and enables people to co-create Safe environments.

Bullying — Today’s Reality

Bullying is typically defined as physical intimidation or fighting, starting and/or spreading rumours, shaming publicly, insults through name calling, teasing, and other aggressive behaviour.  Despite an increase of public attention on the issue of bullying in recent years, it remains a significant and rampant health and safety issue around the world and is proliferated with the usage of social media and connected technologies.

  • In Canada, one in three adolescent students report having been bullied recently. [1]
  • More than 50% of children who have been bullied online do not tell their parents about it.[2]
  • 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying.[3]
  • In 2011, one million children were harassed, threatened, or subjected to other forms of cyberbullying on Facebook.[4]
  • Forty percent of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis.[5]
  • 7% of adult Internet users in Canada, age 18 years and older, self-reported having been a victim of cyber-bullying at some point in their life.7

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[1] Molcho M., Craig W., Due P., Pickett W., Harel-fisch Y., Overpeck, M., and HBSC Bullying Writing Group. Cross-national time trends in bullying behaviour 1994-2006: findings from Europe and North America. International Journal of Public Health. 2009, 54 (S2): 225-234

[2] NoBullying.com. "Bullying Statistics, The Ultimate Guide!." HeadsUp. Accessed March 4, 2015.)

[3] Bully Free Alberta – Homophobic Bullying

[4] (ConsumerReports.org. "That Facebook friend might be 10 years old, and other troubling news." Accessed March 4, 2015. .)

[5] Lee R.T., and Brotheridge C.M. “When prey turns predatory: Workplace bullying as predictor of counteragression / bullying, coping, and well-being”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2006, 00 (0): 1-26

[1] Molcho M., Craig W., Due P., Pickett W., Harel-fisch Y., Overpeck, M., and HBSC Bullying Writing Group. Cross-national time trends in bullying behaviour 1994-2006: findings from Europe and North America. International Journal of Public Health. 2009, 54 (S2): 225-234

[2] NoBullying.com. "Bullying Statistics, The Ultimate Guide!." HeadsUp. Accessed March 4, 2015.)

[3] Bully Free Alberta – Homophobic Bullying

[4] (ConsumerReports.org. "That Facebook friend might be 10 years old, and other troubling news." Accessed March 4, 2015. .)

[5] Lee R.T., and Brotheridge C.M. “When prey turns predatory: Workplace bullying as predictor of counteragression / bullying, coping, and well-being”. European Journal of Work and Organizational Psychology. 2006, 00 (0): 1-26

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