What is Bullying?
Bullying can be defined as repeated verbal, psychological or physical aggression conducted by an individual or group against others. It is behaviour, which is intentionally aggravating and intimidating, and occurs mainly in social environments such as schools, clubs and other organisations working with children.
It includes behaviours such as teasing, taunting, threatening, hitting or extortion by one or more individuals against a victim. While the more extreme forms of bullying would be regarded as physical or emotional abuse and are reportable to Health Board or Gardaí where children are concerned, dealing with bullying behaviour is normally the responsibility of the club where it is taking place.
It is important to recognise the impact that bullying, and discrimination can have in the lives of young people. Some people may not regard bullying and discrimination as child abuse because of the settings in which this often takes place and because it is often other young people who are responsible for the behaviour.
Ratoath Harps Football Club recognises that bullying is an increasing problem. It is imperative that the club should have in place a policy to deal with bullying, and that volunteers/coaches are aware of this policy and of procedural guidelines to deal with bullying.
In situations where the incident is serious, concerns children, and where the behaviour is regarded as potentially abusive, Ratoath Harps Football Club will consult the relevant Health Board with a view to drawing up an appropriate response such as a management plan. (Children First 1999)
All coaches/managers/volunteers/players/parents have a part to play in ensuring that nobody in Ratoath Harps Football Club is the victim of any type of bullying behaviour. Everyone in the club should be aware that bullying of any kind will not be tolerated, and they have a duty to report any such behaviour to our managers/coaches/volunteers who will in turn report to the Committee.
In some cases of child abuse, the alleged perpetrator will be a child. In these situations, the child protection procedures should be adhered to for both the victim and alleged abuser, that is, it should be considered a child protection issue for both children.
Work must be done to ensure that perpetrators of abuse, even when they are children themselves, take responsibility for their behaviour and acknowledge that the behaviour is unacceptable.
It is important that clarity exists in respect of which behaviours constitute peer abuse, particularly child sexual abuse. Consultation with the health board should help to clarify the nature of any sexual behaviour by children which gives rise to concern.
Bullying is often defined in terms of three components.
- It must occur over time, rather than being a single aggressive act.
- It involves an imbalance of power, the powerful attack the powerless.
- It can be psychological, verbal, or physical in nature.
Types of Bullying
Child to child (or Adult to adult) – includes physical aggression, verbal bullying, intimidation, damage to property, stealing property and isolation.
Adult to child- this includes the use of repeated gestures or expressions of a threatening or intimidatory nature, or any comment intended to degrade a child.
Child to adult- this includes the use of repeated gestures or expressions of a threatening or intimidatory nature by an individual or group of children.
A UK study found that the most common experiences of bullying and discrimination reported by young people is at the hands of other young people.
- Being called names, insulted or verbally abused
- Being deliberately embarrassed and humiliated by other children
- Being made to feel different or like an outsider
- Being lied about
- Being physically assaulted or threatened with violence
- Being ignored
In the study, boys were most likely to experience physical bullying or threats, have property stolen or damaged. Girls on the other hand, were more likely to be ignored or not spoken to.
Bullying by adults was a less common experience however one in ten reported this. Of this type of bullying the most common reported experiences were:
- Being deliberately embarrassed or humiliated
- Being unfairly treated or verbally abused
- Being ignored or not spoken to
What makes a child more likely to be bullied?
- Being different in any obvious way, e.g. having a physical disability, an unusual tone of voice, being timid or belonging to an ethnic or racial group.
- Lacking confidence and not being able to mix. This can result in name-calling, “slagging” or physical abuse.
- Being very clever or good at an activity. Others may be jealous and inflict cruel nicknames.
- Being very weak intellectually. Children can be very hurt and distressed by associated name calling.
- Children from homes where there are problems are also vulnerable. Children can have an alcoholic or drug user in the family, a family member in jail or a relative with mental problems who sometimes acts in a bizarre manner in public.
- An overprotective parent can also attract unwarranted attention.
- Children whose hobbies are different and are not in line with mainstream culture, anything that can be misinterpreted by others as making them “different”.
- Children’s physical appearance, prominent physical features, wearing different or old- fashioned clothes, being awkward or clumsy, too big or small.
- Sexual undertones. Children can be jeered about their perceived sexuality or their lack of experience of sexual matters.
- Children who react easily, e.g. the child who gets upset easily and is quick to react to jeering.
- Wearing glasses, teeth braces.
Response to Bullying
Vigilance is the most potent deterrent against bullying so that children and young people who bully will know that it will be dealt with, and the victims of bullying will have confidence in this.
There needs to be open discussion about bullying and a clear statement of its unacceptability. Managers/coaches/children/parents should be advised at the start of every season that “bullying” in any shape or form is not acceptable or permitted in Ratoath Harps Football Club.
In confronting the bully or bullies in relation to specific incidents it is important to:
- Be absolutely certain about the known facts
- Confront the “bully/bullies” with the allegations
- Make it clear that the behaviour is unacceptable
- See each “bully” separately if appropriate
- Be specific about sanctions if the bullying does not stop
- Follow up to check that the behaviour has ceased
- Record all instances of bullying and action taken.
Who should deal with bullying?
While the more extreme forms of child bullying would be regarded as physical or emotional abuse and are reported to the Health Board or An Garda Síochana, dealing with bullying behaviour is normally the responsibility of all coaches/managers/volunteers in this club.
How can it be prevented?
- Ensure that all members follow the code of conduct, which promotes the rights and dignity of each member. • Ensure adequate supervision at all times
- Deal with any incidents as they arise.
- Use a whole group policy or ‘no-blame approach’, i.e., not ‘bullying the bully’ but working with bullies and the group of young people, helping them to understand the hurt they are causing, and so make the problem a ‘shared concern’ of the group.
- Reinforce that there is ‘a permission to tell’ culture rather than a ‘might is right’.
- Encourage young people to negotiate, co-operate and help others, particularly new or different children.
- Offer the victim immediate support and put the ‘no blame approach’ into operation.
- Never tell a young person to ignore bullying, they can’t ignore it, it hurts too much.
- Never encourage a young person to take the law into their own hands and beat the bully at their own game.
- Tell the victim there is nothing wrong with them and it is not their fault.
- All incidents of “bullying” should be reported to the Committee of Ratoath Harps Football Club.
Club personnel are advised that they are not expected to deal with all situations on their own as sometimes bullying can be very difficult to deal with. They can be assured that the Committee of Ratoath Harps Football Club are available to provide support and advice and if necessary professional expertise.