If you’ve followed the Mess for any length of time, then you know that I’m pretty vocal about bullying. It has always been a crime with lasting scars that really needs to be stopped. A friend shared on their Facebook that instead of crying about bullies, we need to teach our children to stand up for themselves. It’s not always that simple. Many kids do stand up for themselves, but many times it doesn’t change anything and sometimes even makes it worse. My response was that they should teach their kid not to be a dick or when that bullied child goes to the school with a gun to stand up for himself you will wish you had spent more time teaching the bully how to be a decent human being.
Bullying is a major problem and not only in schools or just among young people. However, it has also become a cry for anything anyone does not like or every type of aggressive behavior. Not everything that goes against us falls under the term bullying. Before we take a look at some of the misconceptions, let’s first look at what bullying really is. For something to be classified as bullying it needs to be “a recurring and deliberate abuse of power,” an act “with the intention of harming others to gain even more power, real or imagined.” It happens over and over. It’s one person or group of persons being mean and hurting or humiliating another person in order to feel better about themselves and to appear more powerful. It happens in schools, workplaces, social organizations, and sadly, even in families. It’s not only wrong on so many levels, but it can have tragic and sometimes fatal results. It is not a rite of passage or a part of growing up. It’s a crime and the bullies should be punished.
Now, let’s take a look at what bullying is not.
First, they are not isolated incidents, such as someone bumping into you in the hall or even a single act of harassment or aggressiveness. Mean people aren’t always bullies. They’re just mean. Just because someone intimidates you once doesn’t make them a bully. It means they are more aggressive than you are. Remember, bullying is a recurring act.
Next, just because someone doesn’t like you or doesn’t invite you to some event, doesn’t make them a bully. We don’t have to like everyone nor do we have to agree with everyone. You can’t be a part of every club or group that comes around and you shouldn’t want to. Rejection is not being bullied, otherwise writers and artists are bullied on a daily basis with the pink slips that come in the mail. It is, however, people knowing who and what they like and following that journey to create their personal world. You may not like it, but they aren’t bullying you. Even expressing those thoughts and feelings does not make someone a bully. It simply means they have an opinion and were not intimidated to share it.
Furthermore, being on opposing sides of an argument doesn’t make someone a bully, even if you lose the argument. People disagree all of the time and have verbal bouts. That is part of life. Learn how to argue successfully and perhaps you’ll win more often.
And finally, when someone is assertive, it doesn’t mean that they are being a bully. It means they know what they want and are willing to push for it. People need to be more assertive and they can be without hurting others. When a child wants to play a certain way and makes everyone else go along with it, that’s assertive. If the other kids say no and the child then punches them or calls them names until they say yes every time it happens, then that is bullying. You can teach your child to be assertive without being a bully. I can be assertive. I know what I want and what I will and will not tolerate. Sticking to those things doesn’t make me a bully. It makes me determined and focused.
With people waving the word about to describe anything and everything that rankles their skin, it diminishes the focus of the real problem. Bullying will then resemble the boy who cried wolf and sooner or later someone will get hurt because no one listened when the real bully appeared. Know the difference so that together we can stand up to bullies.
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