Rebecca Black and 10 Myths About Bullying

Rebecca Black may now be laughing all the way to the bank, but her new found fame has come at a price. The fourteen year old is now being home-schooled by her mother because of bullying at school. It’s been a roller coaster year for Black, who became a  YouTube sensation with her song “Friday” went viral after its release in March. At last count, the video has had over 167 million hits- almost half the US population! But unfortunately, the video’s fame centered around being billed as the “Worse Song Ever?” Soon there were parody videos everywhere and even celebrities such as Jimmy Fallon and Conan O’Brien had their own versions. A number of celebrities, most notably Lady Gaga and Katy Perry, came to her defense, with Perry even inviting Black to be in her video “Last Friday Night (TGIF)”. Those two celebrities, as well as others including Demi Lovato and Christina Aguilara, are well aware of the difficulties faced by Black, having all admitted to being bullied before becoming superstars.

According to the American Acadamy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, “bullying is a common experience for many children and adolescents.  Surveys indicate that as many as half of all children are bullied at some time during their school years, and at least 10% are bullied on a regular basis.”

Bullying involves 3 things:

  1. Imbalance of Power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves
  2. Intent to Cause Harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm
  3. Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same the person over and over by the same person or group

Bullying is not only physical, but can also take verbal (name-calling, teasing), social (spreading rumors, leaving people out on purpose, breaking up friendships ) and “cyber” forms (using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others).  Bullying can cause serious and lasting harm.

10 Myths About Bullying

MYTH: Spreading rumors isn’t really bullying

Spreading rumors, name-calling, excluding others, and embarrassing them are all forms of social bullying that can cause serious and lasting harm.

MYTH: Only boys bully.

People think that physical bullying by boys is the most common form of bullying. However, verbal, social, and physical bullying happens among both boys and girls, especially as they grow older.

MYTH: People who bully are insecure and have low self-esteem.

Many people who bully are popular and have average or better-than-average self-esteem. They often take pride in their aggressive behavior and control over the people they bully. People who bully may be part of a group that thinks bullying is okay. Some people who bully may also have poor social skills and experience anxiety or depression. For them, bullying can be a way to gain social status.

MYTH: Bullying usually occurs when there are no other students around.

Students see about four out of every five bullying incidents at school. In fact, when they witness bullying, they give the student who is bullying positive attention or even join in about three-quarters of the time. Although 9 out of 10 students say there is bullying in their schools, adults rarely see bullying, even if they are looking for it.

MYTH: Bullying often resolves itself when you ignore it.

Bullying reflects an imbalance of power that happens again and again. Ignoring the bullying teaches students who bully that they can bully others without consequences. Adults and other students need to stand up for children who are bullied, and to ensure they are protected and safe.

MYTH: All children will outgrow bullying.

For some, bullying continues as they become older. Unless someone intervenes, the bullying will likely continue and, in some cases, grow into violence and other serious problems. Children who consistently bully others often continue their aggressive behavior through adolescence and into adulthood.

MYTH: Reporting bullying will make the situation worse.

Research shows that children who report bullying to an adult are less likely to experience bullying in the future. Adults should encourage children to help keep their school safe and to tell an adult when they see bullying.

MYTH: Teachers often intervene to stop bullying.

Adults often do not witness bullying despite their good intentions. Teachers intervene in only 14 percent of classroom bullying episodes and in 4 percent of bullying incidents that happen outside the classroom.

MYTH: Nothing can be done at schools to reduce bullying.

School initiatives to prevent and stop bullying have reduced bullying by 15 to 50 percent. The most successful initiatives involve the entire school community of teachers, staff, parents, students, and community members.

MYTH: Parents are usually aware that their children are bullying others.

Parents play a critical role in bullying prevention, but they often do not know if their children bully or are bullied by others. To help prevent bullying, parents need to talk with their children about what is happening at school and in the community.

Source: Stop Bullying.Gov

Have you or a family member been bullied?
Have you been a bully?
Please tell us about your bullying experiences.

Michele R. Berman, M.D. was Clinical Director of The Pediatric Center, a private practice on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. from 1988-2000, and was named Outstanding Washington Physician by Washingtonian Magazine in 1999. She was a medical internet pioneer having established one of the first medical practice websites in 1997. Dr. Berman also authored a monthly column for Washington Parent Magazine.

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