Bullying in schools is a complex, corrosive dynamic. No longer considered a “normal” childhood behaviour, bullying is now recognized as a very painful, damaging, and sometimes even life-threatening experience. Its effects can last far beyond childhood. Testimonies from adults who were systematically taunted and tormented throughout their school life reveal the trauma and impact of their experience. Many targets of abuse do poorly at school, leave school early or change schools frequently in an effort to find a safe place.
Childhood and adolescence are complex times. Healthy surroundings and supportive adults are essential to the positive development of each child and teen. Teachers want to provide these surroundings and support. They want to intervene. But recognizing the complexities of bullying and preventing it are far from simple matters. The electronic forms that social and emotional bullying can now assume only add to the challenges teachers face as they tackle this pervasive problem.
Understanding bullying, how it affects all of us, and recognizing it as a form of aggression is the cornerstone of efforts to prevent it.