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A person is bullied or harassed when he or she, repeatedly and over a period of time, is exposed to negative actions from one or more other people.

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- Bullying is a societal problem. Bullying occurs in most contexts where people meet: at home, in kindergarten, at school, at work and in the old people's home. It is estimated that as many as 40-60 Norwegians take their lives every year as a result of bullying. What is bullying? What can be done to prevent bullying? refers to Olweus' (1992: 17) definition of bullying:

"A person is bullied or harassed when he or she, repeatedly and over a period of time, is subjected to negative actions by one or more other people." 

There are other definitions of bullying. Most of these require the following characteristics to be present: 


  1. There must be an imbalance in the balance of power between those who are bullied and those who bully. However, a bullying victim can bully other students. Students who often fight with each other are not bullied if it varies who takes the initiative for the fight.

  2. The bullying must take place over a certain period of time. Over how long can be discussed, but individual episodes are not usually called bullying, although they are never that serious.  

  3. The actions must be of a certain severity. One can start from what the student experiences as serious. It is clear that light teasing, which the student is not bothered by, is not bullying. 


Different types of bullying

There are three main forms of bullying: 


  1. Verbal bullying (say ugly things…). 
  2. Physical bullying (hitting, kicking…). 
  3. Exclusion (a student is excluded…). 

In the case of serious bullying, several of these forms of bullying will occur simultaneously. 


How common is bullying? refers to a large survey conducted by Olweus in the early 80s, which found that approx. 9% of Norwegian students aged 8-15 were bullied. About 7% of students bullied others. Boys both bully and are bullied more than girls. The incidence of bullying is greatest among the youngest students. Bullying is found in all schools. Of course, there are schools with more or less bullying. But bullying is unfortunately very common. There is reason to claim that teachers who say that bullying does not exist in their school are wrong. What are the characteristics of bullies and those who are bullied?

There are few typical traits that characterize the victims of bullying. They are often randomly selected. The way you dress and look does not matter. However, victims of bullying may have less self-confidence than average students, or otherwise have characteristics that make them particularly vulnerable. The bully often has better self-confidence and is a little stronger than the average, but has a worse relationship with his parents. These are average numbers and there are of course exceptions for both bullies and victims of bullying. 


Can bullying be prevented?

It can be argued that no children want to be a problem child. No children want basically to hurt and hurt others.

Therefore, it is important to look at what can be done to prevent someone from engaging in such behavior. All children can be taught to be nice to others. Most people learn this at home, but more and more people suffer from inadequate social upbringing, which also results in inadequate social skills. In such cases, it becomes extra important that the school takes responsibility for this part of the students' development.

It is about skills that must be learned, and preferably the foundation should be laid in the first years of life. Children can be taught to discover, recognize and control emotions, talk to each other and interact with each other in a proper way. They must be encouraged to work together to achieve common well-being, and they must be supported and gain recognition for this. In this way, one can achieve prevention of unwanted behavior that includes bullying and violence. Having good plans for the problem children is therefore an important measure to prevent bullying.

In addition, it is important that all schools have their own action plan for how bullying is to be prevented and dealt with. It is important that all schools incorporate a clear and distinct culture where bullying is unacceptable, and preferably a culture that makes such behavior unthinkable for the students themselves. The Norwegian psychologist Dan Olweus has developed an anti-bullying program that the Norwegian authorities and many schools have chosen to focus on, and which is an internationally recognized program. The measure has a documented effect.


The Olweus program

The Olweus program against bullying and antisocial behavior is an evidence-based program that helps reduce bullying in schools. You can read more about this program here.


What can be done to deal with bullying?

The most important thing is not what you do, but that you do something about the bullying. By not doing anything, you signal that bullying is okay. It is also dangerous to explain away the bullying with the victim's any deviant behavior. If the bully gets hold of this, he will think that what he is doing is fine, while the victim may think that the bullying is deserved. Both teachers and parents should talk to students about bullying, mark distance from it, introduce students to how it can be experienced to be bullied, and talk about how to help bullies stop bullying. 

Unfortunately, there is a fairly widespread perception among adults, and also among teachers, that bullying is a conflict that children themselves must resolve. In the next round, this is often used as a reason for not intervening, which is completely wrong. First, bullying is not a conflict, but an abuse. Secondly, it is not the students, but the adults who have the main responsibility and must clearly distance themselves from the bullying and ensure that it ceases. The victim must be protected, and the bully must be helped to understand that the negative actions are not accepted and that they must be stopped immediately. It is simply the adults who have to sort this out.



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