What is Bullying?

Bullying according to “stopbullying.gov”, is “unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumors, attacking someone physically or verbally, and excluding someone from a group on purpose.”

This definition should be read without the wording “among school aged children” being involved. Bullying is not an action that pertains solely to children. Take a look around. On the schoolyard, in the workforce, in sporting events, bullying is taking place on an everyday basis. Now take a look in the schoolroom, in the main office: Listen to some of the teachers and some of the people termed ‘bosses’.  

Is bullying more prevalent today than it was 10 years ago? That depends on who is asked. The world has opened up over the last 10 years, making people closer than they have ever been before, even if they are continents away. Behaviors change accordingly, of course, because the channels that can carry them to others have broadened.  

Bullying is not a new behavior. Children have always had to deal with the class bully or bullies. They have always had to deal with the occasional teacher who belittled them because they didn’t “catch on” as quickly as some other children. And, as adults, people have always dealt with the boss that yells, screams, or otherwise bullied those working below them. It is not a new behavior, but it is newly noticed.  

Cyber-bullying, in particular, causes much stress, especially to today’s youth. It is much easier to walk away from a bully in person than it is to try to deal with one online. It is also much easier to do the bullying when one is not face to face with another that he somehow feels threatened by.

So, what’s to be done?  Look at the facts:

Who is bullying and who is being bullied? Can we correct some of that? Can we teach teachers that the words they say to a struggling student or a student that “acts out”, can be harmful as well as hurtful? Can we teach the student to understand that the bullying is going to be a part of their lives and how to deal with it in a structural way? Can we give bosses the knowledge to help them oversee others without infringing on that other person’s rights as a human being? Logical questions but nearly an impossible task.

What exactly is bullying? Is there a fine line between bullying and abuse? Before laws are implemented to counteract bullying, there had best be a definite definition or our jails may be filled with bullies instead of real criminals.

Where is most of the bullying occurring? It is on the schoolyard, in the schoolroom, in the workplace, on the internet, in government? Let’s face it, it is everywhere, which makes it all the more difficult to deal with. Where do we begin? At the top where the bullying is actually taught, or at the bottom with those who are learning it from above?

When do we start addressing bullying? Do we start in the classroom in kindergarten? Or can we begin to address it when our children are babies and teach them more correct ways to handle situations and circumstances?

And, lastly, we should ask why. Why do people feel the need to be dominant over each other at any cost? Why does the teacher bully the student or the students bully each other? Is it frustration that sends a teen to the internet to bully another teen? Why is teen number one feeling so frustrated? Why does teen number two take things so much to heart?

Bullying is not going to go away. Society, and human nature, make it a viable solution to not only frustration, but feelings of inadequacy, anger, impulsiveness, self-depression. As a society we cannot continue to allow bullying to escalate. However, until it is dealt with in a rational manner and in an equal manner for young, old, rich, poor or powerful, it will not begin to subside.

Perhaps we should teach our children, and ourselves, the qualities of self-assurance and how to deal with those feelings and actions that are the underlying causes of bullying. Perhaps we could teach the person being bullied to study the reasons why that other person feel so inclined to bully him. Is there an answer? Or is this an underlying circle of human behavior that can’t be totally changed?