Bullying is in simple; hate or loathing of one’s self or life projected upon the life of another. Rarely have I had a patient / client who bullied that felt “good” about his/her bullying. If so, I found that this individual had such an unawareness of his/her own person that the “goodness” being experienced was a perverted happiness rather than a real joy or adulation.
The grave effect of bullying in our youth lasts long into adulthood. Bullying acts as a cancer of the mind, soul, and spirit. It is one of the greatest depravities of the human condition. Bullying corrupts not only the mind, thoughts, and spirits of its intended victims, but moreover, it has an equally dire effect on the perpetrator enacting it.
Bullies are neither happy nor content with their lives. Bullies are reconciled that “life” will not improve, thus there is an awkward sort of coexistence between the bullies and their instrument of hate. Bullies are most certainly victims themselves.
Bullying is a power play of dominance.
“I am stronger than you, therefore I am going to exert my power over you.”
“I think I am smarter than you, therefore I am going to exert my ‘intelligence’ over you.”
“I am your teacher, you must adhere to my authority, or I will make your life a living hell.”
“I am your mother or father, I am your commander, you must obey my every command.”
“I am your older brother or sister, you must do what I say, because mom or dad put me in charge.”
“I am your classmate, if you do not help me cheat, then I will tell the teacher that you asked me for the answers to the test.”
A bully is any person who chooses to use his/her personal strength, intelligence, positioning, or role as a means to intimidate and harm those that he/she perceive as weaker or vulnerable.
“So how do we define bullying? Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions, such as cyberbullying—or using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harass.” (Anderson, 2012, Online)
“Bullying can include:
(a) Name calling, being sarcastic and spreading hurtful rumours;
(b) Assault or physical violence – punching, kicking, pushing are common;
(c) Threats, insults and intimidation;
(e) Incitement of others to harass and intimidate;
(f) Destruction or taking property without permission;
(g) Extortion or undue pressure;
(h) Emotional aggression like tormenting and excluding people;
(i) Racial harassment, taunts, graffiti and gestures;
(j) Sexual aggression or harassment, unwanted physical contact or comments;
(k) Use of technology to spread gossip, intimidate or threaten, such as text or
mobile messages and internet messages boards;
(l) Comments, threats or actions relating to people’s disability;
(m) Comments, threats or actions relating to people’s sexual orientation;
(n) Comments, threats or actions relating to a child’s “looked after” status.
Staff and children are capable of bullying and of being bullied.” (LCC, 2012, Online)
Canada has had some recent high profile cases that have reached both national and international news. The most recent case of bullying involved a 15-year old young lady named Amanda Todd. Amanda Todd’s case became public following her plea for help through a Youtube video. Unfortunately Amanda committed suicide due to being bullied.
An American case involving Rutgers University student Tyler Clementi an 18-year old university student, committed suicide after secretly being filmed by his roommate Dharun Favi and a classmate Molly Weihaving having a sexual encounter with another male. According to media reports Dharun Favi was sentenced to 30 days in jail. While Molly Wei was charged with invasion of privacy, agreeing to 300 hours of community service. Sadly, all three of these students lose. Tyler lost his youth; while Dharun Favi and Molly Wei are marred for life by this egregious act.
Amanda and Tyler’s heart shattering stories are reflective of many others throughout Canada and the global community. Unfortunately for Amanda and Tyler, we as a society are too late, and we are to blame for creating this vicious cycle of hate.
IT TAKES A VILLAGE TO RAISE A CHILD
As a global community, we must act proactively to end the violence against all persons. The internet has not only forced our planet to begin thinking as a larger community, but it has offered the opportunists a platform to spread their messages of hate, violence, and intolerance.
- Be aware of your child’s internet and life activities.
- Communicate daily with your child.
- Be certain that your child is aware that they can discuss any and all matters with you.
- Do not berate, scold or criticize your child when they are sharing their heart and conscience.
- Create a continuous flow of communication.
- When discipling your child, discuss the why’s and how comes of the discipline, but do not use bullying to coerce your child into obedience.
- Request support from your child’s school, teachers, principals, advisors, school counselors, and school psychologists.
- If capable, hire a professional (counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist) to help you and your child to engage about the issues troubling them.
- Do not be afraid to communicate with your child.
- Remind your child daily of their goodness, worth, and personal value.
- Have a policy of open and frank communication between you and your child.
- Employ an environment of safety, care, and unconditional acceptance between you and your child.
“All students are harmed by being in a school environment where discriminatory behavior is allowed, not just those students who are singled out for such harassment and victimization.” (Wieland, 2007, p. 241) Children should always be provided an environment of unconditional love, acceptance, and approval. Remember, what occurs in one’s childhood is often indicative of things to come. If we avoid addressing messages of hate and abuse in childhood, then there is little deterrence for children from amplifying the same messages of hate and abuse in their adulthood.
Helping your children to recognize the verbal and nonverbal messages is critical for combating the hate and abuse. Be certain to teach your children to recognize the key features of hateful and violent messages; whether they are communicated verbally or nonverbally; casted disparagingly through stereotypes, stigmas, guilt, or shame; it is essential to know and recognize when others are offering us platters of hate.
Did you know that “more than 80% of students report being the victim of bullying at school. Students forced into competition and social interactions tend to polarize into groups. Grouping can lead to feelings of acceptance or non-acceptance, and breed bullying behavior. Schools which have no clear definition, policy and plan for bullies tend to contribute to the problem.” (Gonzales, 2012, Online)
REINFORCING YOUR CHILD’S INNER CONFIDENCE AND SECURITY
As parents or guardians, teachers or faculty, or a fellow classmate always be vigilant to respond in a positive and supportive manner. Do not segregate the individual bullying or being bullied; rather try to gain insight into the catalyst precipitating the bullying behavior. “If bullying is witnessed, it should be openly challenged. The nature of the bullying should be ascertained and the child’s safety considered at all times.” (LCC, 2012, Online)
Bullies should be taught more constructive ways to vent their anger, frustrations, jealousy, envy, or personal conflicts with another. The bully should not be excluded or ostracized from a group. Bullies are often seeking to belong and fit in. The bully’s positive nature and attributes should be reinforced. Likewise, the individual being bullied should also be provided a supportive and positively influential environment. Ostracizing an individual creates a feeling of being persecuted, ridiculed, set apart, and banished from the “others.” Do not forget that bullies are often acting out, seeking some form of attention. Seek to help the bully, rather than segregating the individual. Ostracizing an individual will only amplify the individual’s internal negativity. It is important to recognize that the act of bullying should not go unpunished, but do it in a grace and peace oriented manner. Everyone deserves to feel love, supported, approved, and accepted.
We must be hyper-vigilant when training our children. As parents and teachers, we should keep a watchful eye out for danger and difficult times. It should be expected that teachers and parents use due diligence to protect all children.
Author: Dr. Asa Don Brown, Ph.D., C.C.C.
Anderson, N. (2012) This is psychology: Bullying. Retrieved October 16, 2012 from http://www.apa.org/news/press/video/this-is-psychology/bullying.aspxf
Barnes, A. & Ephross, P. H. (2012) The impact of hate violence on victims, Emotional and behavioral responses to attacks. Retrieved September 22, 2012 from http://www.socialworkers.org/pressroom/events/911/barnes.asp
Common Sense Media (2012) Lesson: Breaking down hate speech. Retrieved September 22, 2012 from http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/lesson/breaking-down-hate-speech-11-12
Gonzales, A. (2012) What causes bullies and bully behavior? Retrieved October 16, 2012 from http://www.catholicdos.org/file/WhatCausesBulliesPeggy5-2011.pdf
Lancashire County Council (2012) Countering bullying guidance Retrieved October 16, 2012 from http://www.lancashire.gov.uk/corporate/web/viewdoc.asp?id=15712
Wieland, J. (2007) Peer-on-Peer hate crime and hate-motivated incidents involving children in California’s public schools: Contemporary issues in prevalence, response and prevention. UC Davis Journal of Juvenile Law & Policy 11(2), 235-269
*The views expressed by our authors are personal opinions and do not necessarily reflect the views of the CCPA