Updated: Feb 28, 2020
Over the past few years, the issue of bullying has received increased attention, especially in schools. Statistics show that about 30% of people have experienced bullying during their k-12 school years, and according to Do Something, over three million students are the targets of bullies in the United States. Unfortunately, the results of being bullied can have short-term and long-term effects on victims. In some of the worst cases, victims have even taken their own lives. Although, many individuals have taken the liberty to speak out and criticize the constant ill-treatment of others, there is still many more efforts that can be made to stop bullying.
WHAT IS A BULLY?
A bully is defined as “a person who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate those whom they perceive as vulnerable.” A bully may attack someone by making them feel uncomfortable, hurting them physically, calling them insulting names or spreading nasty rumors about him/her.
WHAT DRIVES A BULLY?
When it comes to bullying, many bullies harm their victims because they are pressured into doing so by their peers. They have the desire to fit in, even if it means inflicting harm on another person. By not fitting in, they may feel that they will fall victim to becoming bullied themselves.
Most of the time, bullies tend to choose victims that they may feel is a threat. The victim may be ‘different’ or unique in a way that stand out to society or the bully themselves. Bullies often harass those that they see as a threat, whether it is to their self-esteem, self-image or success. Regardless if the victim actually poses a perceived threat by being the unique individual that they are, this does not validate someone to be bullied. Usually bullies are only subconsciously mindful that they are feeling threatened by someone else.
Desire for power
Living in a world with a lot of weight on authority, can cause many individuals to believe that knocking other people down is the only way that they can bring themselves up, making them feel ‘powerful.’ This can be common when people are targeted in several settings in life such as work, school and with a group of friends/peers. In some cases, bullies implant anxiety in others, so that they can gain a sense of power that they feel they themselves are lacking.
Infrequently discussed, is one motivation of bullies, which is revenge. Sometimes, bullies sincerely feel that they, or someone that they may care about, has been mistreated by the victim at some point in time. When it comes to finding validity through revenge, the result can never be a positive one. Also, in some situations, bullying can be done as revenge to ‘get back power that was taken,’ whether that power was taken by a family member, friend or just anyone that the bully cares or has cared about; regardless, bullying should never be justified.
With the rise in social media, cyberbullying has risen. It is much easier to hide behind a computer screen anonymously, than it is to bluntly bully someone to their face. Sometimes cyberbullies may have a personal connection to the victim, and at times they many not know them at all. Some cyberbullies remain anonymous, but not all do; some bullies have no issue with using their name and image, but many cowardly conceal their identities behind screens, with the idea that no consequences will come out of bullying someone online. In addition, may bullies get pleasure when other people see them attacking others, sadly.
TYPES OF BULLYING
The most noticeable type of bullying is physical bullying, which happens when bodily actions are used to obtain dominance and control over the victim. When it comes to physical bullies, they tend to be larger in size and more intimidating than their peers. Some examples of physical bullying include kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, pushing, etc.
Bullies can also use hurtful statements, words and names towards their victims in the case of verbal bullying. They try to belittle and hurt the other person, and may choose this person in regard to the way they may look, behave or act. Unfortunately, it is common for a bully to verbally abuse someone with disabilities. Verbal bullying can be hard to see because it is usually done when authority figures are not present, resulting in a “he said, she said” situation. Most adults believe that verbal bullying is something that can be ‘brushed off,’ and as a result it can go ignored. However, verbal bullying can leave a significant influence, causing emotional trauma on the victim.
This type of bullying often goes unnoticed as well. It is a type of social manipulation where one person tries to hurt their peers or damage their public appearance. Relational bullies often exclude others from a group, spread false rumors or deploy situations. They do this to try and strengthen their own reputation. You typically will see this type of bullying more with females than with males.
With the rise in social media, it has become easier for people to hide behind a screen. Some people may use the internet as a source to harass, embarrass and target another person, also known as cyberbullying. This can include anything from making threats behind a computer screen to posting hurtful images and words all over social media for anyone to see and have access to. It can also include sending hurtful text messages via phone. Because of how many teens and young adults use social media, cyberbullying has unfortunately been growing as a way for bullies to attack their victims. Bullies may use the internet to hide behind a screen because they do not have the courage to say things face-to-face; however, some may choose to remain anonymous behind a screen, while others have no issues using their names to identify themselves.
When it comes to sexual bullying, this can be anywhere from sexual name-calling to vulgar, physical gestures. In extreme cases, sexual bullying can lead to sexual assault. When it comes to both, girls are more than often the victims, but this does not exclude boys from being victims of sexual bullying and assault as well.
Prejudicial bullying can encompass all the above types of bullying, but is aimed at someone who may have a different race, religion or sexual orientation. A prejudicial bully tends to single out an individual based on their differences, putting them into a negative spotlight.
SOLUTIONS TO BULLYING
When it comes to bullying, there is no excuse to justify it. But, how can it be stopped?
If you are a victim of bullying, tell the person to stop, and also tell a trusted adult that can help intervene in the situation.
If you see someone else being bullied, stand up for them and up to the bully. Usually if more than one person is standing up to a bully, they tend to back down.
When it comes to your children, make sure you are making it a point to ask them about their school day. If you notice a change in behavior, eating habits or their inability to sleep at night, make sure you step in and take action.
Work with others by starting a Non-Bullying campaign for a zero tolerance of bullying.
In your school, take the initiative to create a safe place, where are people are accepted regardless of who they are and what they look like.
If you are being bullied, there are resources that you can use to get help below:
Anti Defamation League
Bully Free Program
Gay, Lesbian and Straight Education Network
Kids Against Bullying
KnowBullying (free app)
National Bullying and Sexual Harassment Prevention and Intervention Program