Bullying is a growing epidemic across the world, and Australia has not been spared. Whilst most of the research centers on bullying in secondary and primary education settings, or the workplace, statistics indicated 1 in 4 people are affected by bullying in person and this increases to as high as 64% experience cyber bullying.
There are a number of different definitions of bullying out there but overall there is agreement on the following experiences being necessary:
- Incidents need to be repeated and deliberate
- Incidents need to intent to use words or actions to hurt (physical, psychological) and humiliate
- Incidents involve one or more people having power over another/others
Bullying isn’t a one off incident, it doesn’t refer to a disagreement or a single act where there was no intent or an apology follows the incident. Getting one or numerous bad marks on your assessments where feedback is provided isn’t bullying. Getting an unsatisfactory progress report on your PhD report despite positive feedback all semester and meeting your agreed upon tasks could be?
So what can we do to change these statistics? One of the most powerful interventions is by the bystander. Seventy percent of Australians do nothing when they see and hear bullying. They might be scared, afraid the bullying will turn to them if they say anything, or they may think it’s none of their business. But if a bystander intervenes then bullying can cease in under 10 seconds.
Let’s change bystanders into upstanders by:
- Step in and tell the bullying the behaviour is unacceptable.
- Report the bullying to someone, a lecturer, the Dean of Students, a counsellor
- Approach the victim, let them know they are not alone and help them get help
Now you know what to look for and how you can help, what about helping the bully? Or what if you suspect you are the bully?
- recognising and admitting the behaviour is a problem is the first step
- Take responsibility for your thoughts and actions
- Talk to someone about your behaviour and how you can change to more acceptable behaviours.
- Stop, think and apologise
- Get help from a counsellor
If you are still unsure or want some more information you can call the Bully Zero Australia Foundation on 1800028559 or use the Skype Drop-In hours to talk to the online counsellor and get some advice.