Emotional Intelligence and Bullying

Caitlin Anderson – Wellbeing Health Promotion Officer

Tomorrow is a National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence.

In Australia alone, one in four students are impacted by bullying each year. Unlike conflict where both parties express their views following a disagreement, bullying involves the ongoing misuse of power where someone intentionally tries to hurt, humiliate or intimidate someone else, through the use of repeated verbal, physical and/or social behaviours.

Several studies demonstrate that those who engage in bullying-like behaviours haven’t learned how to effectively regulate their emotions, nor develop and maintain supportive relationships. They are frequently overwhelmed by feelings of jealousy, anger, curiosity and fear; and do not know how to empathise with peers who look, act, or feel differently. On the other hand, victims of bullying are more likely to experience symptoms related to depression, anxiety, social withdrawal and are nine times more likely to have thoughts around self-harm.

There is a growing body of research illustrating the relationship between emotional intelligence and bullying. Emotional intelligence is the ability to understand, use and manage emotions which combines both emotional and intellectual processes. Therefore with higher emotional intelligence, children and adolescents are able to recognise their emotions and transform them into something more positive; instead of engaging in bullying behaviour to seek an emotional release.

As a school, we are continuously working with students to help develop their skills in emotional intelligence. In addition to school camps, leadership programs, sport and group-based school work; the use of mindfulness is highly effective in developing these skills and are used readily in the classroom. Mindfulness teaches students to create space between action and reaction; in turn improving social behaviours and relationships with others, as well as enhancing emotional regulation, attention and concentration. But just like reading and writing; learning mindfulness, and how to regulate our emotions takes practice.

So in light of this National Day of Action, we have encouraged students to reflect on the following pledges to stop and prevent bullying:

  1. Change Mindset:

We encouraged students to ask themselves the following questions: Do you feel that you positively influence your friends? Does your peer group bring out the best in you? Are you willing and able to restrain from using the character strength of humour if it will physically or psychologically harm someone else? And are you able to use the strength of bravery if you witness someone being victimized?

  1. Take Action
    • Ask them to stop. Depending on the situation and if it safe to do so; ask the bully to stop.
    • Avoid retaliation. Don’t engage in the same behaviour.
    • Tell a trusted adult such as a Teacher, Housemaster, Mr Bos, Mr Wyer, Dr Zagoren, Miss Read or a Student Protection Officer, just to name a few.
    • Surround yourself with a positive and supportive network.

Together, let’s change the statistics.

Wellbeing Health Team.

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