Bullying is an act of repeated aggressive behavior in order to intentionally hurt another person, physically or mentally. Bullying is characterized by an individual behaving in a certain way to gain power over another person. Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. The “imbalance of power” may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a “target”.It pains me to say this, but while it certainly isn’t okay, bullying has become a natural yet abnormal part of the human experience. Bullying isn’t something that is exclusive to any single stage of a person’s life; it’s something that can occur at any point in one’s lifetime, whether you are an adolescent or an adult.
Bullying is defined by Wikipedia as:
- The activity of repeated, aggressive behavior intended to hurt another person, physically or mentally.
The act of bullying can be further split into three separate categories:
- Direct, which involves acts of physical aggression
- Indirect, which involves acts of social aggression
- Verbal, enacted exactly how it sounds
In short, bullying is the act of using repeated hostile activity towards a target through the use of personal means. This lies in stark contrast to cyber-bullying which is impersonal and is done through the use of technology and digital media.
As evidenced by the definition bullying is an interpersonal experience, in other words people engage in bullying in person with other people. What’s important is that bullying can come in three different forms, each with their own method of enactment but ultimately their goals are the same: The belittlement or humiliation of their target.
Direct bullying encompasses acts of physical aggression towards their target, by doing so the bully asserts physical dominance over his/her victim. These acts include but aren’t limited to:
- Hitting, slapping, elbowing, shouldering (slamming someone with your shoulder)
- Shoving in a hurtful or an embarrassing way (the quintessential shoving someone into a locker should come to mind)
- Taking, stealing, damaging or defacing belongings or other property
Indirect bullying encompasses acts of social aggression towards their target. To be specific these are acts with the purpose of making the target lose face and ultimately status within a social environment, such as:
- Destroying and manipulating relationships
- Destroying status within peer groups
- Destroying reputations
- Humiliation and embarrassment
- Gossiping, spreading nasty and malicious rumors and lies about someone
- Excluding someone from a group (social rejection or isolation)
- Stealing boyfriends or girlfriends to hurt someone
- Negative body language (facial expressions)
- Threatening gestures, taunting, pestering, insulting remarks and gestures
- Glares and dirty looks, nasty jokes, notes passed around, anonymous notes
- Hate petitions (promising to hate someone)
Verbal bullying encompasses acts of verbal aggression towards a victim.
- Name Calling
- Insulting Remarks and put-downs
- Repeated Teasing
- Racist Remarks or other harassment
- Threats and Intimidation
- Whispering behinds someone’s back
As stated in the intro paragraph, bullying can occur at any point in one’s life. This is because age is irrelevant to the issue, what actually matters is the location; in particular, locations that foster communities such as school or the workplace. A term referred to as rankism can be applied to bullying within such environments. Bullying is based on hierarchies, such as skill, experience, or time as a member. In addition, due to these ranks it’s possible to shield oneself from punishment or backlash within their community.
It’s easy to identify where bullying takes place, but it is quite the endeavor to truly understand why. “Kids will be kids” is not, and will never be, a justifiable reason for bullying because it’s not normal for children to drive other children to the point of causing psychological issues such as depression and even worse suicide. Many claim that it is an erosion of empathy, that is, the bully lacks the ability to place themselves in their victims’ shoes therefore unable to understand what it would feel like to be bullied. In short, they ignore the Golden Rule: “One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself. Another belief is that they are jealous or envious of the person that they bully; there is something that the bully lacks and uses shame to conceal their shame or anxiety thus making them feel a sense of empowerment. Another powerful belief is that a bully reflects his negative experiences from home and projects them unto his victim.
One of the more difficult aspects about dealing with bullying is that unlike cyber-bullying it is harder to identify. When cyber-bullying occurs, those incidents are on the internet forever; all that’s needed is for someone to dig them up. On the other hand bullying can happen behind closed doors where only the relevant parties are involved. When this occurs it becomes far more difficult to accurately understand the situation, as the people involved might not give accurate information or any information at all.
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