The incidence of bullying at schools has significantly dropped from last year, the Children’s Welfare League Foundation said yesterday, adding that a large majority of victims suffer not only physical bullying, but also “relational aggression,” a type of bullying that is easily overlooked and hard to detect, but can result in lasting psychological trauma.
Bullying in schools has decreased since 2007 due to government efforts and rising public awareness, the foundation said.
However, anti-bullying initiatives still face several challenges, it said.
Teachers and parents often overlook relational aggression, with victims choosing to remain silent as they believe that speaking out about bullying will not help.
According to a survey conducted earlier this year, 16.3 percent of fourth, fifth and sixth graders were said to have experienced bullying at school.
Of those, 94.8 percent were victims of relational bully.
Children’s Welfare League Foundation research and development director Chiu Ching-hui (邱靖惠) said that relational bullying often involves the intentional social exclusion of a victim or spreading rumors to ruin the victim’s social networks, and can cause the victims to feel detached and depressed.
“However, according to another survey conducted online, 93.7 percent of parents and 88.7 percent of children polled take school bullying to be physical violence only, while 30 percent of them think that boys are more likely to become bullies. What’s more, 26 percent of children do not consider peer exclusion as a kind of school bullying,” Chiu said.
Relational bullying has also been aggravated by the Internet.
The survey shows that 62.4 percent of children consider cyberbullying more serious than real-life bullying, reflecting the fact that it is easier to victimize children in a world where real-life rules and adult oversight are lacking.
Many victims do not reveal the bullying to adults, for fear of revenge or being slighted as a “whistle-blower” or because they fear adults’ countermeasures.
Children’s distrust is actually disappointingly justified, the foundation said, as the survey found that 78 percent of reported cases were not resolved properly or even deteriorated.
As worrying as children’s distrust is parents’ distrust of teachers, Chiu said.
“Nearly half of the parents felt all channels of help were closed to them when they needed one, and more than half of them do not believe teachers can be trusted in solving the issue if their kids are bullied,” Chiu said.
While more government attention and action are necessary, the children’s foundation is also asking for children’s assistance in eradicating school bullying, encouraging them not to ridicule, exclude, slander or reinforce bullying, but to respect fellow students and take action against bullying.
Bullying is a group phenomenon, Chiu said, adding that “both the individuals involved in a bullying case and the class as a whole have to be educated.”