Although bullying isn’t a new phenomenon, it is receiving tremendous attention in the media. With the addition of electronic media and social networking, even more opportunities exist for bullying in today’s culture.
What is bullying?
Bullying is demonstrated in a number of ways. A bully might choose to humiliate another person through verbal taunting and abuse. Common adult bullying methods include isolating an individual, dismissing a person’s ideas or ignoring someone completely. Some bullies even use physical threats and violence to send their message. Bullying may be done in person, via electronic communication or on the phone.
Who gets bullied?
No one is exempt from the possibility of being bullied. People of all ages are victimized by bullies, from young children to the elderly. They may be bullied due to their race, gender, religion, clothing, personality or lifestyle. Often, a person doesn’t even understand why he has been chosen for bullying.
Bullies may be male or female, young or old, rich or poor. Their reasons for bullying even vary from anger to a desire to dominate others to the need to build themselves up by putting others down. They come in many shapes and sizes, but some similarities occur among bullies. Often bullies lack empathy and give little thought to actual damage that their words and actions cause. They feel the need to dominate others, but often bully those who are weaker or less likely to fight back.
Where does bullying occur?
Older children may be the targets of bullies in school or their local neighborhood. Adults deal with bullying in the workplace or among social groups. Children and adults may experience bully situations online or via electronic information sharing, such as with texts or tweets. Bullying may occur among family members right within the home.
What can be done?
All of the following strategies should be utilized against bullying. One strategy isn’t typically enough to overcome a bully permanently.
- Realize that bullying is taking place. Victims of bullies may wonder why they’re being targeted and even accept bullying as something deserved. Bullies thrive on projecting their problems on victims. Bullying isn’t ever acceptable and is never the fault of the victim.
- One of the greatest defenses against bullying is support and communication. Individuals who isolate themselves and don’t have a support system of family and friends are more likely to become the targets of bullying. A support system allows a person to be more confident about exposing bully behavior. In some cases, speaking out against a bully, with other supporters present, solves the issue quickly because bullies prefer victims who suffer in silence.
- Keep a documentation journal – particularly for adults in the workplace or a high school student needing evidential back up, a written journal documenting the bullying allows the victim to begin gaining control and creates a tool for exposing the bully.
- Respond in support of those whom you notice are being bullied – Albert Einstein once stated, The world is a dangerous place; not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing. Whether it’s work, school or in the neighborhood, standing up for a bully victim helps others stand confidently as well.
- Get counseling to deal with the mental health issues that are often related to bullying. Both bullies and their victims need mental health help to overcome their roles. If you’ve been bullied and choose not to get professional help, you may find yourself the target of ongoing or new bullying.
Both high school students and adults struggle with exposing bullies, often feeling that they won’t be believed or that the bully will respond more harshly. In work situations, adults often benefit from gaining support and acquiring documentation before revealing a bully, particularly if the bully is a boss or supervisor. Ironically, high school students are more likely to turn to friends, who often aren’t able to help, rather than adults who could actually be of assistance. Parents of older students should regularly encourage discussion with their teens to allow an open door for children to ask for help.
If you need help handling a bullying situation at work or assisting your older child with a bully, contact your Employee Assistance Program at 1-800-899-3926. If you do not have this benefit through your employer, contact us about how your employer can acquire our services.