Don’t Be Bullied:
Most of us have been made more aware of the problem of bullying within our children’s schools and environments, but very few of us realize just how devastating it can be. With school beginning again and summer coming to an end, the topic is gaining attention once again.
Bullying is extremely hurtful and can leave victims with feelings of fear, anger and depression. It should never be tolerated. And there are things that parents or teachers can do to deal with the problem if they think a child is being bullied or engaging in bullying behaviors. There are steps that even the victim can take to help deal with the problem.
What Is Bullying?
Bullying can be physical, verbal or relational. In her book, The Bully, The Bullied and The Bystander, Barbara Coloroso describes it as “arrogance in action” and “contempt” for another person who is deemed unworthy of one’s consideration.
The difference between a regular, normal conflict and bullying is:
• the intent to harm
• an imbalance of power
• repeated aggression and/or threat of continued aggression
Often, there is a gender difference in the way bullying occurs with boys, who usually bully more with actions and physical threats, and with girls, who more often bully via verbal or relational behaviors.
But no matter what type of bullying it is, the results are very similar:
• Being bullied makes us feel hurt, afraid, hopeless, helpless, isolated, ashamed and sometimes even guilty as if it is our fault we are getting picked on. The most sever emotional impact of bullying (and I have seen it with teenagers and families I have known) results in suicidal feelings.
• Being bullied compromises our physical health and puts us at greater risk for developing problems like low self-esteem, anxiety, depression or PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder).
• Many of us stop caring about our grades in school because attending school in and of itself if we are bullied, becomes so stressful. By not attending school, we hope to avoid the situation, a small price to pay if it helps eliminate the emotional devastation of being bullied.
Repetition is the most damaging component to bullying. The same victims are targeted relentlessly over and over again for long periods of time. The repetition has the victim constantly afraid, not knowing where or when it will happen again or how far the bully will go the next time.
Being able to clearly identify bullying behaviors is a good place to start in doing something about it. We have already highlighted three categories of bullying; physical, verbal and relationship. This list adapted from: PBS Kids – It’s My Life, further explains specific behaviors of each:
• Threatening to hit, kick or push – or actually doing it
• Hiding, ruining or stealing someone’s belongings
• Harassing, humiliating or hazing someone. Forcing another person do something he or she does not want to do
• Taunting or teasing
• Being verbally abusive or insulting to someone
• Spreading lies or rumors about someone
• Refusing to talk to someone
• Excluding someone from groups or activities
• Harassing, humiliating or hazing someone. Forcing another person to do something he or she does not want to do
School’s back in session. They’re not at home and parents all over the country are celebrating their regained ‘freedom’ but it is also the time to be proactive and on top of what your children are doing and what is happening with them.
Bullying is a learned behavior and as such, it has specific components that can be recognized. There are also ways to recognize the behaviors of someone who is being bullied. So the first step and the one I detailed here is how to view and recognize the bully as well as the person being bullied.
We will look at the next step in the near future.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Judy is a licensed clinical social worker and has worked extensively as a counselor with children, adolescents, couples and families. Judy’s professional experience in the mental health field along with her love of writing, provide insight into real-life experiences and relationships. Her fresh voice and down-to-earth approach to living a happier, more meaningful life are easy to understand and just as easy to start implementing right away for positive results!