TEEN SOUL POWER
Bullying is as Bullying Does
How Common is Bullying?
Over 3.2 million students are victims of bullying each year.
In one recent national survey of students, 13 percent reported bullying others, 11 percent reported being the target of bullies, and another 6 percent said they bullied others and were bullied themselves.
Bullying, for all intents and purposes, is far too common and the results often far too tragic.
Examples From the Same Class in School:
Case #1: He was a good kid but had what parents used to call, "a smart mouth." But he wasn't a bully. The trouble was that a couple of other bullies picked on him one day and he couldn't control his mouth - he started at first by verbally defending himself, and then that turned into taunting them until the bullies became physical. The next day he told them off yet, again, and again they got physical. The third day, the fourth day, and every day for the rest of the school year - he challenged them - consciously provoking them and instigating them to bully him -- and every day they responded. And everyday they won, and he lost. The point is not that he was the bully, originally, but that he certainly initiated behaviors that taunted them and in fact, invited them to respond in their ways. This is exactly the way not to engage bullies.
Case #2: She was a very good student, but quiet. She never stood out. She never participated in class activities. She never went to the school dances. She never went on dates, nor had any group of friends to hang with at school. Actually no one really noticed her, it was as if she didn't even exist. Years later someone did see her and asked why she hadn't gone to any class reunions. She responded in an enraged anger - one that was truly uncharacteristic of her and with a rage that was certainly out of place. She ranted about how much she hated school, how she was ignored, and ostracized. She said how she always felt out of place and never accepted nor a part of the school. How no one would befriend her. She suffered from a non-verbal, non-affirming, non-recognition of her that led into both her anorexia and her critical alcoholism after graduation. The alcoholism especially further destroyed her life. She never married. She never had children. No, she didn't want to go back and see any of her classmates. In her mind she had no "friends." She didn't have any fond feelings at all for her high school or high school experience. All she had was bad memories and a scarred life, and repugnance for those she went to school with.
Case #3: He was a very friendly teen, in fact, a jokester at every opportunity. He loved to laugh and make others laugh. But one weekend he saw one of those "insult comedians" on television. He thought it was hilarious, and then started to go around and make sarcastic - and caustic remarks about everyone. He really meant no harm. It made people laugh. Unfortunately, the more he made people laugh, the better he got at the sarcastic, insulting type of humor. But they laughed "at people" because of his remarks, and not "with them." And the remarks became hurtful. He would make fun of their clothes, their speech, their weaknesses. He would comment on their grades, their family, and their personal lives. Tall, short, fat or thin, nothing was out of bounds. And it was cruel. And it wasn't funny. And it hurt. Sometimes it hurt a lot.
According to StopBullying.gov, nationwide about 22 percent of youth ages 12-18 experience bullying on a repeated basis. Bullying can present in a thousand different ways. Yes, anyone can see it when it is obvious physical, aggressive behavior, conscious and overt. But many times it is subtle, and as surprising, we participate and may not even realize we are doing it - a laugh, a nod, a wink of the eye.
While physical bullying often involves the use of strength and physical intimidation and is the most readily recognized form of bullying, there are other types of bullying that may even be more frequently found and more damaging to youth.
The Four Major Categories of Bullying are:
PHYSICAL: Physical bullying is the demonstration of aggression, power and control and force, usually in trying to harm someone. Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions, or threat of hurting a person including by hitting or slapping, pushing, kicking or tripping, pinching, spitting, taking or breaking someone’s things, making mean or rude hand gestures, or threatening action against family or friends if a "request" is not complied with.
VERBAL: Verbal bullying includes threats, gossiping, name calling, making sexual remarks, stealing or damaging belongings, teasing, spreading lies - or worse - rumors false or which may be true ("… but don't tell anyone I said that.") It can be teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting, or threatening to cause harm.
NON-VERBAL: Non-verbal bullying….. can be excluding someone from an activity or encouraging others to exclude someone, manipulating as in stealing their homework assignments, embarrassing someone - even went not meaning to such as in practical jokes, giving a mean look - or even rolling your eyes to make fun of someone, or intimidating them through a non-verbal posture, or otherwise embarrassing someone in public.
CYBERBULLYING: Cyberbullying is the newest form of bullying. It is very interesting that when a person can speak anonymously they seem to be given great courage to say anything they want - if true or not, if it hurts or not, if it kills or not. Cyberbullying is , perhaps, the lowest form of bullying because it is never done face-to-face, never looking anyone in the eye, never having any respect. The worse thing about cyberbullying is that too often it is not based upon reality - or the reporting of actual fact and so often it is wrong information. But once said it seems to have taken on a life of it's own - blasted to a large audience and lasting, sometimes, for years. So many times the writer has found out the truth or the damage it's caused exceeded even their thinking and wanted to take it back, only to find that it's there to stay… it's in cyberspace forever.
Bullying can happen to anyone at anytime. Often bullies look for factors in people like being seemingly different from their peers such as being overweight or underweight, wearing glasses or different clothing, being new to a school, or being unable to afford what kids consider “cool”. They may pick on youth who are perceived as weak or unable to defend themselves, are depressed, anxious, or have low self esteem, are less popular than others and have few friends, or who do not get along well with others or are seen as annoying or provoking, or antagonize others for attention. Some bullies tend to focus on specific people such as lesbian, gay, bisexual or transgender youth, youth with disabilities, or socially isolated youth.
Sometimes a teenager tries bullying for one or more reasons, but finds that it doesn't fit his/her personality and they abandon it. This happens more frequently than one may think. Usually it is given up as a style of communication after someone does hurt a friend or acquaintance, and finds out or is told by that person, and feels remorse and decides to never let it happen again,
With constant or entrenched bullying though, it has become an automatic or preferred style of communication. Herein lies the real problem. One underscoring point with both physical and verbal bullying, though, is often pain. The bully himself or herself is struggling with emotional or physical issues or abuse and this is the way the bullying is presenting itself. It is a reaction to their own stuff, transferred onto another. This does not excuse the bullying, quite the contrary, but sometimes it makes it a little easier to know the underlying dynamics - that the bully himself/herself is reacting to their own pain, be it from family, friends or their own suffering from being bullied.
Youth who are bullied need to speak to a trusted adult, as should youth who see others bullied. Adults can give comfort, support, and advice, even if they can’t solve the problem directly. Youth can also learn how to stand up to kids who bully, for instance like using humor or saying “stop” directly and confidently, or how to diffuse the situation and walking. Youth should also learn strategies for staying safe. Trust is an important virtue, but realistically, safety needs to be a primary concern. Here, be sure to stay near groups of adults or other youth you do know and trust. Finally, be sure to help other youth who are bullied by showing them kindness or assistance in getting help.
Special Condition: Bullying isn't just found in the high schools of the world. Teens who do not rectify the problem, carry their control and manipulation traits into adulthood, most often into their marriages and relationships and even into the work environment. Ever hear of an abusive boss? Bullying isn't just reserved as a youth issue, it is a global issue and can be as detrimental and destructive for adults as well.