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Bullying – The Second Original Sin

Bullying – The Second Original Sin

No one deserves to be bullied. A power imbalance is found at the heart of the bullying dynamic. Children and youth who are marginalized in our society may be at high risk for victimization, which can lead to involvement in bullying. Adults responsible for children and youth need to be aware of these power imbalances so they can work to ensure that all children are respected and included. Children who are victimized become increasingly powerless and find themselves trapped in relationships in which they are being abused.

Victims tend to be timid and, in the case of boys, tend to be physically weaker and less skilled than bullies. Victims tend not to retaliate or make any assertive responses to peer aggression, and they tend to be low on skills for making friends. They generally do not retaliate to the initial aggression or when they are picked on, so that they come to be seen as “safe” targets for bullying, which are then repeated by the bully. Children who become victims typically lack friends and social support at school, and they are often not confident in their physical abilities and strength. Children and youth who are victimized often lack relationships in which they can experience positive identity, power, and independence.

What is Bullying?

Bullying, whether in school, social groupings, at home or in the workplace is one of the most important social issue that is destroying our children (and as adults) that we are facing right now. Every child has the right to go to school and get an education, no matter what size, shape, color, race, disability or financial background they come from. Any child who mistreats another child based on their appearance, ethnic origins, sexual orientation or any other reason is a bully. It does not matter if the bullying happens just once or is occurring regularly, it should be dealt with. No child should ever be made to feel that school is a place where they will be degraded, demoralized, singled out, hounded, discriminated against or taken advantage of in a vulnerable situation. Children who learn they can get away with violence and aggression continue to do so in adulthood. They have a higher chance of getting involved in dating aggression, sexual harassment and criminal behavior later in life. Bullying is painful and humiliating, and kids who are bullied feel embarrassed, battered and shamed. If the pain is not relieved, bullying can even lead to consideration of suicide or violent behavior. In order to stop this act of terrorism, we must look at awareness as an important first step in helping parents, students, teachers and communities at large to learn more about how to recognize a bully and children who are bullied and to take steps to stop the bullying. Bullying is wrong and everyone needs to get involved to help stop it.

Bullying is a learned behavior and a form of abuse and as with other interpersonal violence, such as dating violence, racial harassment, child abuse, and wife assault, is based on a power imbalance between the bully and their victim(s). It is seen as repeated and systematic harassment acts over time that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group abusing those who are less powerful. It is behavior that makes the person being bullied feel afraid or uncomfortable. Bullying is the intimidation or mistreatment of a person who is weaker than the bully or in a more vulnerable situation. It is also seen as a conscious, willful, deliberate and repeated hostile activity marked by an imbalance of power, intent to harm, and/or a threat of aggression.

Bullying can happen at many different locations, environments and situations:

  • School / College / University
  • Home/family
  • Summer Camp
  • Social occasions / holidays
  • Work
  • Internet / Cyber-bullying
  • Sports
  • Homophobia
  • Church
  • Elderly care homes
  • In reality anywhere and everywhere

When bullying goes from bad to worse, it may lead to a feeling of terror on the part of the person being bullied. Bullying is persistent unwelcome behavior through the assertion of power through aggression. Its forms change with age: school playground bullying, sexual harassment, gang attacks, date violence, assault, marital violence, child abuse, workplace harassment, elder abuse and murder. Bullying is a form of abuse and bullies, whether as students or unenlightened employers often go to great lengths to keep their targets quiet, using threats of disciplinary action, dismissal, and gagging clauses.

What are the effects of bullying?

Bullying can have long-term physical and psychological consequences. Bullying makes children feel lonely, upset, unhappy and frightened. It can make them feel unsafe and think there must be something wrong with them. Children can lose confidence and may not want to go to school anymore. They may feel withdrawn from family and school activities, wanting to be left alone. Victims of bullying typically are very unhappy children who suffer from fear, anxiety, and low self-esteem as a result of the bullying. They may try to avoid school, and to avoid social interaction, in an effort to escape the bullying. Some victims of bullying are so distressed that they commit, or attempt to commit suicide. It may even make them sick.  Even when bullying does not drive victims to the extremes of suicide, victims experience significant psychological harm which interferes with their social and academic and emotional development. The sooner the bullying is stopped, the better for the long-term outcome for victims. If bullying patterns are allowed to continue unchecked, there are long-term consequences for the victim.

The History of Bullying

Wikipedia describes bullying as the use of force, threat, or coercion to abuse, intimidate, or aggressively to impose domination over others. The behavior is often repeated and habitual.  We can also add onto this definition that bullying causes death.

With this definition in mind you can go back in any cultural history and see that bullying has always been around.

  • The Tea Party (US Republicans Party)
  • J. Edgar Hoover
  • Napoleon
  • Kim Jong-il
  • Bashar al-Assad

Bullies have been a major selling feature in movies to draw in the crowds.  However, they are more than just stories they are mirrors of real life experiences.  In movies, “the hero has to win all the time, the bully (or villain) only has to win once” – anonymous

  • “Lean on Me” – Ace Merrill
  •  “Harry Potter” – Draco Malfoy
  • “A Christmas Story” – Scut Farkus
  • “Back to the Future” – Biff Tannen
  • “Mean Girls”  – Regina George
  • “In A Better World”  – Sofus

In literary works, children have been singled out and harassed since the beginning of time.

  • “The Ugly Duckling” by Hans Christian Anderson
  • “Oliver Twist” by Charles Dickens
  • “Lord of the Flies” by William Golding
  • “Harry Potter” collection by  J.K. Rowling
  • “Merchant of Venice” and “King Lear” by Shakespeare

The point is that seeing and readings about bullies are so ingrained in our lives that we tend not to really question what we are seeing or reading.  I believe for us to make any changes towards the notion of `stopping bullying` we need to find out where the bullying is coming from.   For example, when we go to a doctor because you we not feeling well, the doctor asks questions to find out the root cause of your illness.  When you take your car to the mechanic with a weird sound or vibration, they do a diagnosis test and find out what is causing the trouble.  Why do we not do the same diagnostics with bullying?

Why is the bully bullying?

This is where we must start in order to stop bullying.  However, with millions of bullies worldwide there are millions upon millions of personal reasons why they are hurting others.  Some reasons could look like the following

  • Does not recognize impact of his/her behavior on others
  • Easily frustrated and quick to anger
  • Has never learnt to accept responsibility for their behavior
  • Have low self-confidence and low self-esteem, and thus feel insecure
  • Holds a positive attitude towards aggression
  • Little concern for others’ feelings
  • Possessing unexplained objects and/or extra money
  • Secretive about possessions, activities, and whereabouts
  • Relinquish and denies responsibility for their behavior and its consequences

For the children who bullying, we must focus more attention on their home life.  There are many ideas for how parents should address and handle their children being bullied. We have added a few different approaches that hopefully give you an idea of how to address this terrorizing issue that your child is facing on a regular basis and have sourced as well as added the webpage where this information comes from. The most important start when dealing with your child is to (a) listen to them, listen to them, listen to them, (b) be there for them and work with them so that they fell that they are not alone, and (c) deal with it until the issue is completely finished and has stopped. You must show your child that the terrorist or bully cannot and will not get away from this criminal activity. If you do not help the ongoing bulling and terrorizing activities, that they face each and every day, they may and usually will have a hard time developing and growing into a positive and strong person. In reality your reactions can make or break your child’s future.  But what happens if you were abused or bullied growing up and that is all you know and now you have children.  It turns out to be a never ending circle of dysfunction.

So where do we go from here? 

We cannot change the past or the present (theoretically) but we can start working towards the future.  Start teaching more mandatory classes in school about bullying and abuse.  What bullying is, what to watch out for, and how to ask for help.  Proper education and training that we need once we get out or school, like (a) how to get a job, (b) how to be in a relationship, and (c) how to deal with issues that will come up in life.  Have more `have to` classes and less useless classes like memorizing the periodic table of elements, memorizing all of the US presidents in order, calculus or biology.  In other words, maybe we need to modernize our core courses throughout the school system.  Start from scratch and design a curriculum for modern day.  Will this happen, probably not.  What leader has the strength, courage and backing to take on a modernization project to help our children?  Politics seems to be more controlled by the wealthy 1% and their needs rather than the rest of the 99% of the population who just get pushed aside.

Whatever the outcome, I will continue to look for solutions to end this “local terrorism” that is destroying people throughout our world.  Is this a winning battle?  If you or I can help or save one life, then it is a winning battle.  Maybe that one life we help is yours, or a family member, or a friend.  So I will end by asking you to make a commitment to be more positive, smile at a stranger, thank someone for doing something for you, give people appreciation, and let them know they are important and the world needs them (or you need them).

You can make a difference in someone’s life.  Please make a positive one.

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