Preventing and Responding to Bullying and Cyberbullying
First and foremost, parents, coaches and athletes alike need to understand what bullying is and how to spot it. The prevention of bullying and cyberbullying comes from a zero-tolerance policy led by the organization and the coaching staffs that helps to establish a culture that does not participate in this type of activity. Coaches and staff should institute a zero-tolerance policy for any form of bullying or cyberbullying behavior between players, coaches, parents and other administrators. Coaches should always serve as a role model for how to treat others. If there are incidents of bullying, players should be encouraged to talk to parents and coaches and to report any bullying that they may be victim of or witness to. According to the specific team or league’s policies, disciplinary actions should be taken accordingly.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is aggressive physical and/or non-physical behavior that intends to hurt, threaten or frighten another person. There is often an imbalance of power between the aggressor and the victim. Bullying can occur both on and off the field, and include parents, coaches, spectators, or umpires.
No federal law directly addresses bullying. However, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment which is covered under federal civil rights laws.
Examples of Bullying
- A parent telling their child that they are incompetent, hopeless, useless, etc.
- A coach alienating an athlete (adult or child).
- Several people ganging-up on an individual team member.
- Spectators verbally abusing players from the opposition.
- An athlete calling a referee names and using put-downs.
- A parent intimidating a young coach.
Effects of Bullying
Athletes who are being bullied may exhibit the following:
- Missed practice(s).
- Loss of interest in the sport.
- Signs of depression and anxiety.
- Health complaints.
- Decline in performance.
- Lack of enjoyment.
- Decline of work or school life, academic achievement, and physical and mental health.
Withdrawal from teammates, friends, or team activities
What is Cyberbullying?
Cyberbullying is the use of communication technology and social media, such as the internet or cell phones, to harass and bully another person. There are several different types of cyberbullying:
- Harassment: Harassment involves the bully sending offensive and malicious messages to an individual or a group and is often repeated multiple times. Cyberstalking is one form of harassment that involves continual threatening and rude messages, and can lead to physical harassment in the real, offline world.
- Flaming: Flaming is similar to harassment, but it refers to an online fight exchange via emails, instant messaging or chat rooms. It is a type of public bullying that often directs harsh languages, or images to a specific person.
- Exclusion: Exclusion is the act of intentionally singling out and leaving a person out from an online group such as chats and sites. The group then subsequently leaves malicious comments and harass the one they singled out.
- Outing: Outing is when a bully shares personal and private information, pictures, or videos about someone publicly. A person is “outed” when his information has been disseminated throughout the internet.
- Masquerading: Masquerading is a situation where a bully creates a fake identity to harass someone anonymously. In addition to creating a fake identity, the bully can impersonate someone else to send malicious messages to the victim.
Examples of Cyberbullying
- Sending harassing text messages.
- Posting unwanted pictures on social media.
- Creating a fake social media account impersonating someone else.
Effects of Cyberbullying
Athletes who are being cyberbullied may exhibit the following:
- All of the effects included in bullying.
- Low self-esteem.
- Withdrawal from family and friends.
- Change in personality.
- Avoidance of the communication technology they are being cyberbullied through.
If you suspect bullying, please contact your Age Group Director
Exerpts from Abuse Awareness for Adults - Coaches Certification