In this bullying article we take a close look at verbal bullying:
- What is verbal bullying?
- What are the effects of verbal bullying?
Read this article to learn more about how to recognize verbal bullying and ways to deal with verbal bullies.
When most people think of bullying, they think of physical bullying. However, bullying goes beyond the physical limitations to include the spoken word(s). It may seem strange, but verbal bullying can be just as harmful – in different ways – as physical bullying. With verbal bullying, the goal is still to degrade and demean the victim, while making the aggressor look dominant and powerful. All bullying focuses on creating a situation in which the victim is dominated by the aggressor. And this can happen verbally as well as physically.
In many cases, verbal bullying is the province of girls. Girls are more subtle (and can be more devastating), in general, than boys. Girls use verbal bullying, as well as social exclusion techniques, to dominate others and show their superiority and power. However, there are also many boys with subtlety enough to use verbal techniques for domination, and who are practiced in using words when they want to avoid the trouble that can come with physically bullying someone else.
Effects of verbal bullying
Many victims of verbal bullying are affected in very real ways. Verbal bullying can affect one’s self image, and affect someone in emotional and psychological ways. This type of bullying can lead to low self-esteem, as well as depression and other problems. It can aggravate problems that a victim may already be experiencing at home or in other places. In some cases, verbal bullying can reach a point where the victim is so depressed, and wants to escape so badly, that he or she may turn to substance abuse or – in some extreme cases – suicide. In the end, words have a power all their own, and the realities of verbal bullying can have very physical consequences, even if the aggressor never lays a finger on the victim.
Dealing with verbal bullies
Verbal bullying can be hard for teachers and other authority figures to detect, since no physical harm takes place. You should be aware of what is going on in your child’s life, and be a place that he or she can turn if verbal bullying is taking place. Some signs that your child might be a victim of insults from verbal bullies include reluctance to go to school, complaints that no one likes him or her, prolonged depression, a drop in school performance or drastic changes in eating and sleeping patterns.
It is difficult to deal with verbal bullies, but there are some things that your child can try in order to avoid bullies. It takes a lot of effort, though. Here are some things that may help your child deal with a verbal bully:
- Ignore the bully
This is difficult, but if you can shrug off insults and provide no reaction, there is a chance that eventually the bully will move on to someone who provides a more interesting and responsive target.
- Tell an authority figure
A trusted teacher can make things a little easier, by being on the lookout for bullying behavior. Unfortunately, it is hard to catch verbal bullies, and even harder to punish them, since it is difficult to prove that they have been involved in such behavior. But telling someone at school can be a relief.
- Remain civil
Do not resort to rudeness yourself. Many bullies lose interest if you do not sink to their level. Also, if you act rudely and aggressively yourself, you may invite a physical confrontation, which could add physical hurts to the emotional.
- Try to focus on your friends
If your child has loyal friends, encourage him or her to focus on those friends so that they have some positive influences. Additionally, a victim that is surrounded by friends can dissuade a verbal bully from engaging.
- Look for other sources of enjoyment
After school activities and other interests and hobbies can help you take your mind off of the verbal bullying.
In the end, it is quite difficult to stop verbal bullying. However, you can set a good example for your children by speaking kindly of others, and not resorting to rudeness yourself. This is quite important, since many verbal bullies first learn to dominate others with words by listening to their parents, and how they interact with others.