What does a bully look like?

We tend to view and imagine a bully as a big, tough, boy that picks on those smaller or younger than himself. However, there has been a lot of discussion lately within educational circles about bullying and we are slowly learning that the ‘bully’ comes in many forms.

Dance can foster understanding and a sense of community among young people, however dance classes are not immune to episodes of bullying. Boys in dance are often taunted, teased and physically harassed from sources outside their dance school. It is not as widely recognized, however, that females in their dance classes can sometimes bully male students. After all, boys are typically outnumbered and often a subject of fascination for the females in a typical studio environment. In fact, girls are every bit as capable of bullying as boys, however their style or methods of tormenting usually differ.

Boys tend to bully on a more physical level, however in contrast, girls tend to partake in what is known as relational aggression. This refers to manipulation, teasing and taunting on an emotional level that is often hard to monitor by teachers and parents. Girls tend to practice what is called relational aggression. They manipulate, taunt, and tease on an emotional level that often flies under the radar of teachers. Here are some sources that will help you spot and understand relational aggression in action. It is often easy for teachers to excuse this behaviour as a “boys will be boys” or “girls will be girls”, and whilst this is a big part of growing up and surviving in the world, issues like these need to be monitored. Students deserve to learn in an environment that is safe from abuse; where school issues are “left at the door”, so that abusive behaviour as well as the 3rd party onlookers are not affected.

Bullying occurs in all social circles surrounding adolescence including the dance environment. As a seemingly ‘non-masculine’ art form, it is important for us as parents and teachers to recognise and become more aware of the underlying relationships that run through the dance class.

By William Gulson