By Samuetta Hill Drew
Bullying! A topic which is almost as old as time itself. It was because of bullies an old commonly used phrase was coined – “Sticks and Stones May Break My Bones, but Words Can Never Hurt Me!” Unfortunately, with the complexities of today’s society, this is not always true. Words can cut sharp and deep psychologically resulting in long term negative effects on the individuals who are the bullies’ target(s) as well as the bully.
Bullies come in all shapes, sizes, complexions, ages and economic backgrounds. Bullies attack at school, on the school bus, on the Internet, in relationships, social/civic organizations and even at work. Often, young bullies grow up to become older more skillful bullies as adults.
Bullying has become so widespread in our country that it has turned into entertainment for many. It is frequently displayed and glamorized on many reality television shows. Bullying has now become a national and extremely serious topic because of its many potentially destructive tentacles. For this three- part series on bullying, the focus will be primarily on the act of bullying at school.
Understanding bullying is important so you can determine if a behavior is bullying or something else. Care.com commissioned a national survey on how parents feel about bullying. This survey determined bullying is now the number one fear for parents.
Bullying is a very aggressive behavior. It can be a type of emotional and/or physical abuse with defined characteristics. It is an intentional action whose ultimate goal is to hurt someone. When one or more students deliberately decide to bully a single or group of students, their targets are not to blame. The bully’s actions are their own and the bully should be held accountable.
Bully Awareness Resistance Education (B.A.R.E.) tells us that bullying is unprovoked, hostile, forceful, sometimes violent with often threatening behavior. It emphasizes that its intent is to hurt, harm, threaten, harass, intimidate, and terrorize their target(s).
B.A.R.E. explains that bullying is not simple or innocent play. It is not fun for the target(s) nor the many peers who witness the behavior. Generally, the bully seeks domination and control over the target(s), as well as the witnesses and bystanders.
Bullying occurs in many different forms with varying levels of severity. It may be physical bullying where the victims are poked, pushed, struck, kicked or beaten up. It may be verbal bullying where the target is yelled at, taunted, called out of his/her name, insulted or threatened with bodily harm.
It could involve relational bullying where the target is excluded, had rumors spread about them, or others have been solicited to hurt the target(s). Lastly, it may be cyberbullying with hurtful messages or images using the Internet or cell phone.
Regardless of the form the bullying is packaged in, it is critical as a parent that you Keep an Eye on Safety for your child(ren).