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  • Writer's pictureSamskiptaráðgjafi

Bullying in Sports and Youth Activities

Definition of bullying

Bullying is repeated behavior intended to cause a person distress, such as by belittling them, offending, hurting, ignoring, or threatening them and causing fear. Bullying is repeated emotional violence where one or more persons prey on or attack a specific individual.

Bullying is violence and social exclusion that can significantly affect both the victim and the perpetrator. It takes place between two individuals or an individual and a group. Bullying takes many forms, such as constant teasing, badmouthing, laughing at the victim, deprecating them, and mocking. Bullying is a form of exclusion, and the victim often feels unwelcome and excluded from a group they belong to. Differences in opinion or conflicting interests do not fall under this definition.

Examples of bullying: When a person is continually criticized or belittled, intentionally offended, and excluded from work and play.

Silent observers

Bullying can make a person believe that everyone or almost everyone in a group is against them, even though, in most cases, the majority only passively supports the bullying. Indirect participation, such as watching the bullying and not reporting it, is just as bad. Only a small part of the group actively participates in the bullying, but the majority’s inaction supports them. Many indirect participants believe that standing up for the victim is dangerous and could lead to them being bullied as well.

Bullying or communication problems?

It can be hard to determine whether bullying takes place when communication problems arise. Communication problems manifest in various ways and degrees of severity. In many cases, people can solve their problems and people need the chance to develop their communication skills. Misunderstandings arise, and sometimes individuals get heated, or a situation gets out of hand. But in other cases, negative patterns of communication develop that people are unable to resolve between themselves. This can negatively affect the feelings and well-being of everyone involved. Problematic communication can be both verbal and non-verbal, such as belittling, offending, or threatening. It can also be violent or exclusionary, through glances, making faces, and so on. Bullying can be viewed as the most severe stage of communication problems when a repeated behavior leads to an individual’s distress and/or their expulsion or exclusion from a group of their peers.

What are the forms of bullying?

Examples of indirect bullying:

  • Excluding someone and denying a person access to a group of their peers

  • Badmouthing, threatening, verbally mocking, and making degrading and hurtful comments about someone

Examples of direct bullying:

  • Pushing, kicking, beating, pinching, scratching, tying up, following, name-calling, and destroying property

  • Holding someone down or locking them in against their will

Examples of cyberbullying:

  • Bullying through text or pictures on social media such as Facebook, Instagram, blogs, Youtube, or through text messages

  • Posting negative stories, rumors, lies, or hurtful pictures online

Indication of ongoing bullying:

  • Coming home from school/sports/youth activities in a cranky mood or with torn or wet clothes

  • Cuts, scratches, or physical marks that are hard to explain

  • Having personal property such as phones, sports clothes, etc. destroyed

  • Being scared of going alone to practice/youth activities where there is a possibility of violence on the way to and from home

  • Leaving earlier or later than usual for practices/ youth activities

  • Bad attendance to practice/youth activities

  • Being often late

  • Avoiding certain situations such as being around specific individuals in the group

  • The person’s abilities and capabilities stagnate, and they do not get to enjoy themselves as individuals

Indications at the victim’s home:

  • Refusing to go to practice/youth activities

  • Isolating themselves from other family members

  • “Losing” money or other belongings and asking for extra allowance (to please their perpetrator or because they are robbed)

  • Refusing to play outside in their free time

Why do victims not report the bullying?

  • In the eyes of their group, “reporting” is seen as the same as “telling on somebody.”

  • Guilt

  • The bullying is directed at sensitive and personal matters that the victim would rather not discuss

  • Fear of the situation getting worse

  • Threats

Possible reactions of victims:

  • Astonishment, fear, and crying that can later develop into anger and fits of rage

  • Trying to pass under the radar, skipping school or practices and getting exemptions, especially when it comes to sports and youth activities

  • Blaming themselves for the situation with permanent blows to their self-confidence

  • Diminishing interest in school with failing grades and performance

  • Becoming miserable and downcast

What should I do if I have experienced bullying?

Tell someone. If there is someone you trust in your life, tell him/her/them about the bullying. If you do not want to tell someone you know, contact the communication counselor. You can get help to end the bullying.

Effects of bullying

Bullying can have a range of serious effects that may affect the victim throughout their life. The longer the bullying goes on uninterrupted, and no action is taken, the more severe the consequences.

Here are a few examples of the effects of bullying:

  • The victim experiences themselves as lonely, without friends and socially isolated

  • Worsening mental health that can lead to changes in character and personality

  • Broken self-image, hypersensitivity, anxiety, sadness, self-blame, and insecurity

  • Various psychosomatic disorders, such as tension, anxiety, and depression that present in stress symptoms like headaches, stomach aches, and lack of sleep

Help with distress

It is possible to get help with working through the distress caused by bullying. You can contact a medically trained professional such as a psychologist or get information from a general practitioner. You can also get advice from the communication counselor about where to seek help. Get in touch.


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