School personnel are always taught to treat a bullying incident which is seen or reported as just a single event. However, this reporting may just be the tip of the iceberg for the one being bullied.
Often when bullying is discovered, it is likely to have happened before. Bullies tend to bully others when a teacher or authority figure is not watching, and often in places where they are absent altogether, like locker rooms and restrooms. When the bully is caught, it usually because he or she has become overconfident in getting away with the behavior.
Because of this possibilty, it is very important to ask the victim, “Have you been bullied by this student before?” If this experience just began recently, then the administrator or school counselor can be sure all bases have been covered.
If the victim responds that the bullying has been going on for some time, then the emotional damage to the victim could be substantially greater.
A positive answer to the first question should lead into a second question, “How long has this been going on?” The longer it has been going the greater emotional impact on the victim. If the abuse has been going on for several months or more, professional counseling may be needed to help the victim.
The final question which needs to be asked is, “Have you been bullied by other students?”
It is a known fact, kids who are noticably different in some way, such as because of a handicap or extreme shyness, are often bullied by more than one other student.
In order to successfully help the victim, all those involved in the abuse need to be spoken to and dealt with.
A victim who is verbally abused over a long period of time often will lose the ability to comprehend the difference between true bullying and someone joking with them. They can become paranoid of other students. This is why it is important to consider these questions.
The incident they report may not be actual bullying, but there may be plenty of bullying in their past which needs to be addressed in order to help the victim.
Signs of bullying school personnel may notice include:
• Declining grades, loss of interest in schoolwork, or not wanting to go to school
• Suddenly loss of friends or avoidance of social situations
• Feelings of helplessness or decreased self-esteem
• Frequent headaches, stomach aches, feeling sick or faking illness
• Self-destructive behaviors such as running away, harming themselves, or talking about suicide
• Unexplained injuries
• Lost or destroyed clothing, books, etc.
The 3 Questions:
1. Have you been bullied by this student before?
2. How long has this been going on?
3. Have you been bullied by other students? ______________________________________