One hot topic – bullying

Published 9:46 am Wednesday, April 24, 2013

When someone brings up the subject of bullying, most people immediately think of some big bad boy forcing a younger smaller boy to give up his lunch money or pushing him around.

Unfortunately, that is only one type, which can usually be handled in the schools, and is preventable. Some of the other types are far more insidious and may lead to victim suicide or a Columbine/Newtown situation.

Other types of bullying include cyber bullying, often a tactic of female bullying, which may also develop into what is referred to as relational aggression (think “mean girls”). There is teacher bullying, supervisor bullying, even children bullying parents or grandparents, and parental bullying.

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There seems to be a standard definition for bullying that varies only slightly from one literary source to another: “Bullying is intentionally aggressive behavior that takes many forms (verbal, physical, social/ relational/emotional or cyber bullying – or any combination); it involves an imbalance of power and is often repeated over a period of time.”

The bullying is often unprovoked and can consist of one individual bullying another, a group ganging up against one individual, or one group attacking another group. There are common behaviors recognized as bullying behavior: put downs, name calling, rumors, verbal threats, menacing behavior, harassment, intimidation, social isolation, exclusion, physical assaults, visual hand gestures, or even “getting into someone’s face.”

Bullying, as one might suspect, is a secretive thing often happening out of sight or earshot of others, most often perpetuated by cowards and by individuals who are often, also, being bullied.  In schools, bullying most often happens in bathrooms, the cafeteria, the bus stop, or in hallways. But with adults, it can happen in isolated incidences in the community; blocking a victim’s car, in a hallway at work, calling their cell phone repeatedly, cyber bullying on social networks, following the victim, or having friends or associates harass the person.

According to the National Education Association, bullying affects practically one in three children in grades six through 10. Eighty-three percent of girls and 79 percent of boys report having experienced some type of harassment. Students who have experienced repeated bullying may express a fear of going to school, the bus ride to school, or using the bathroom at school. These children may develop physical symptoms, emotional problems, and a decreased ability to learn.