What is the difference between teasing and bullying?
Here are some definitions that children have come up with:
- Teasing is being made fun of in a good-humoured way. It is not serious and one can sometimes laugh about it.
- Teasing is usually done by someone who cares about you, like a family member or friend.
- If you are a bit upset about being teased, it’s not a strong feeling and it soon goes away.
In teasing everyone has a turn – you will tease others, yourself, sometimes. You are not being picked on.
If teasing really hurts someone, it is by mistake, as the person teasing does not mean to hurt, and he or she will stop.
- Bullying is cruel and is meant to hurt.
- Bullying is one-sided. The same person is always being picked on, and the same person does the bullying.
- Bullies want to show how powerful they are by hurting others, taking their things or making them do things that they don’t want to do.
Advice that you can give to your child if they are being bullied
Bullying hurts and sometimes it makes you want to hurt others. You may even blame yourself but it is the behaviour of the bully that is wrong.
Here are a few points to discuss with your child/children regarding bullying:
Tell someone. Do not feel embarrassed, ashamed, or afraid to tell someone that you are being hurt or teased, or that your lunch is being stolen. Don’t be silent. Talk to your parents, teachers, big brother or another adult that you trust. Keep on talking until someone listens and you get help.
Ask the bully to stop. Someone might not know that their behaviour is hurting you.
Avoid being alone with the bully. Try to make friends and hang out as a group. Bullies are more likely to trouble you if you are alone.
Believe in yourself. Know that you are a special person.
Assistance for perpetrators of bullying
In spite of what most adults think, bullying should be taken seriously. Both physical and verbal attacks by one child on another, intending to hurt, are a form of violence and can cause permanent harm to the victim. Bullying can make the victim depressed, anxious and even fearful. Despite our best efforts, bullying can still cause great frustration to everyone. The perpetrators also need help. Children who bully have often experienced bullying themselves.
Perpetrators also need help so that they:
- Learn to understand themselves and their feelings
- Understand the consequences of their actions
- Find other rewarding outlets for their power-seeking drives
- Practice self-discipline and empathy for others
Should your child feel like they need to speak to someone, they can call Childline SA’s toll free number on 0800 55 555. They have counsellors who are available 24/7.