Bullying

Posted by: Asa Don Brown on October 24, 2012 11:22 am

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. 

DEFINING BULLYING

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;

(d) Spitting;

(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)

RECENT CASES

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.  

Protecting Children 

  1. Be aware of your child’s internet and life activities.
  2. Communicate daily with your child. 
  3. Be certain that your child is aware that they can discuss any and all matters with you. 
  4. Do not berate, scold or criticize your child when they are sharing their heart and conscience.
  5. Create a continuous flow of communication. 
  6. 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. 
  7. Request support from your child’s school, teachers, principals, advisors, school counselors, and school psychologists. 
  8. If capable, hire a professional (counsellor, psychotherapist, psychologist) to help you and your child to engage about the issues troubling them.
  9. Do not be afraid to communicate with your child.
  10. Remind your child daily of their goodness, worth, and personal value.
  11. Have a policy of open and frank communication between you and your child.
  12.  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.

REFERENCES

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

6 comments on “Bullying”

  1. Tracy says:

    Thank you Dr Brown for your enlightening writing. The term bullying has so often been only associated with school yard bullies, peer pressure situations involving children and often physical contact. Thank you for including all forms of bullying and illustrating that many relationships can include a bully: child to child, adult to child, teacher to child, parent to child, child to parent, employer to employee. It is interesting to think that the bully situation can be present throughout life. As your discussion of the recent suicides due to bullying reveals that severely harmful bullying is not always physical, and more commonly psychological. Due to this fact, the cyber bullying and use of technology has exploded. As parents we need to communicate with our children about bullies of all kinds and frequently discuss relationships and interactions with our children. By educating our children it will protect our children and also create advocates for others.

    By dealing with bullying directly and efficiently we can improve many relationships in our children’s lives today and into the future.

    Thank you again,

    Tracy

    1. Dear Tracy,

      Thank you for taking the time to review and reply to my latest article. I am sincerely appreciative.

      You are more than correct that “The term bullying has so often been only associated with school yard bullies, peer pressure situations involving children and often physical contact.” It does go well beyond the schoolroom atmosphere. We can experience bullies when we go to work; through familial dynamics; through community and religious entities; when we are sharing our political ideologies; or through a host of other life venues. Bullying knows no friend.

      It is important that we deal “…with bullying directly and efficiently we can improve many relationships in our children’s lives today and into the future.”

      Again, thank you for your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  2. Deborah Pickering says:

    Hello Dr. Brown,

    This is a well written and informative article and I appreciate your insight into this scourge on our society, bullying.
    It is more important than ever before that parents, teachers, and all other caregivers of children step in to make the changes in this regard take place. The unfortunate youth mentioned in your article who took their own lives to escape are only a small percentage of the many young people who are commiting suicide every year, because nobody helps them while they live.

    As important as it is to teach children that they are loved and worthy, it is even more important to target adults. Adults act horrified when listening to accounts of severe bullying while out of the other side of their mouths they say things that are demeaning and derogatory about other adults, and their children. Then people wonder where the children are learning this behavior.

    My own child was bullied at high school, the administators did nothing. It took my physical presence in the school to dissuade some of the bullies that she endured daily. It did not solve the problem at all though. We changed schools, different bullies took over harrassing my child. She became very close to being suicidal even though the school authorities were informed and I was there to support her.

    I also was bullied and harassed in my place of work and I dealt with that in my own way. Again, those in charge did not have the personal skills necessary to deal with bullying behavior. I have seen first hand the effects of bullying and the way it occurs with youth and with adults.
    That is why my personal focus is more strongly toward educating adults than youth. I’m not saying forget about the children and youth, I am saying that as a society we must find a way to make adults accept accountability for their bullying tendencies which are then modeled by children and youth.
    Many may think that adults are equipped to deal with the brash and rude behavior of adult bullies. Most people are not. Most adults withdraw from such bad behavior in order to avoid inflaming the situation.
    I suggest, based on my personal experience, that the business sector is a good place to start educating adults, beginning with those in a position to hire others.
    Managers, supervisors, etc. should have to have mandatory skills in mediation and conflict resolution. Upon witnessing inappropriate behavior among staff those in charge can step in and facilitate a resolution for that behavior and follow up with those staff members. At the same time a person of authority in the work place should be approachable for any employee to report harassment or bullying, without fear of breach of confidentiality.
    It all ties in with how our children learn ways of harassing and bullying their peers. They see and hear how the adults do it to each other.
    Thank you for your stimulating article on this very important topic.
    Cheers, Deb Pickering

    1. Dear Deb PIckering,

      First of all, thank you for taking the time to review and offer your feedback.

      Unfortunately, you are correct that the youth who choose the pathway of suicide “… are only a small percentage of the many young people who are committing suicide every year, because nobody helps them while they live.” Sadly, this is only one of the egregious repercussions of bullying. Bullying is one of the most sadistic issues known to man, whether intentionally or unintentionally, bullying has become an issue of grave concern.

      Moreover, we know that bullying does not cease at our youth, but in our youth bullying feels magnified by the intensity of our constant relationships with the bully. In a majority of cases, bullies are known to the victim, whether they are a relation, a classmate, a teacher, a classmate’s parent, or some other authority; bullies are rarely of unknown to their victims.

      I am sorry to hear that you were bullied as an employee. While there are legal and governing guidelines helping us to deal with such issues; ensuring that these are in place and in effect can prove a difficult challenge.

      I wholeheartedly agree that “Many may think that adults are equipped to deal with the brash and rude behavior of adult bullies. Most people are not. Most adults withdraw from such bad behavior in order to avoid inflaming the situation.” Therefore, it is crucially important that such behaviors are not avoided or that they go unaddressed. Bullies will continue to bully as long as there is a victim, and as long as there are no repercussions.

      Finally, I am sincerely appreciative of your feedback and your time.

      Again, thank you for your time and feedback.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

  3. Linda Thompson says:

    Good morning Asa – thanks for this wonderful article and a key word – fear – comes to mind for both the victim and perpetrator of “hate” which I believe has its origins in instinctual fight/flight or faint/freeze responses innate within the autonomic nervous system. The picture of the girl in your article is worth a thousand words and this visual representation of hate ought to be viewed from not only a cognitive perspective but a neurophysiological one. That little girl is in a thwarted sympathetic (fight/flight) trauma response which is part of her state dependent memory, learning and behavioral and the reaction to danger she has learned is complex indeed and tells us adults she is simply acting primal (hypervigilant) in a defensive posture to a real or perceived sense of danger in that moment the photo was captured.

    Children need help with their ability to self-regulate stressors (positive/negative) and identification of the triggers that activate trauma responses contained within their central nervous systems. Us adults are their teachers and they have immature central nervous systems, so they count on our mature central nervous systems (CNS)and ability to modulate stressors to help them self-soothe and self-regulate.

    From a procedural (unconsscious) memory perspective, our young are mirrowing to us their inability to cope/modulate the stressors they endure and counting on us to help them contain and work through the fear. In reality the mirror image of the frightened child is but a reflection of the lack of adults with insight and mature CNS capable of containing one’s own plus the dependent children who count on our mature ability and capability to contain and help them learn more adaptive ways of containing and then dissipating (discharging) their own fear of danger reactions – trauma responses inherent in life.

    It is time to implement the basics – foundations of SRT available through CFTRE into the school system, perhaps in physed (maturational brain health program) in the elementary grades. There are many strategies and techniques children can learn and one example is simple grounding on a gym ball. Just a proactive, preventative thought to add to the arsenal of cognitive behavioral approaches currently popular (discussions on hate is cognitive but the state remains thwarted trauma response (hindbrain), unconscious, contained and carried within – hypervigilance is a symptom of scanning the environment for danger, basic survival instincts – fear and danger . The bully and the victim are dysregulated!

    I could go on and on – our children are suffering so! Regards Linda

    1. Dear Linda,

      First of all, let me thank you for taking the time to offer such a thoughtful reply. I am sincerely appreciative.

      Isn’t it intriguing how a visual image can capture the thoughts and minds of an event, a situation, a person, or thing? I appreciate your thoughts on the picture, because I have been using pictures to capture the essence of my messages. “The picture of the girl in your article is worth a thousand words and this visual representation of hate ought to be viewed from not only a cognitive perspective but a neurophysiological one.”

      I fully agree that “Children need help with their ability to self-regulate stressors (positive/negative) and identification of the triggers that activate trauma responses contained within their central nervous systems.”

      Linda, I am sincerely appreciative of your thoughtful remarks.

      Warm Regards,

      Dr. Asa Don Brown

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