Bullying is not a discipline problem, it’s a relationship problem.
Today I will share important tips to help prevent bullying.
It was three o’clock and I was trembling at my desk and felt like I was going to throw up… I was trembling because I knew I would be met at the front of the school by my classmates to watch HER bully me. I didn’t even know her, but she knew who I was. I didn’t even know what I did. She didn’t care. The note handed to me earlier in the day read, “Be at the school front yard by 3 o’clock or else.” My ‘friends’ wouldn’t explain what the note was about or the name of the bully.
The time for bullying must come to an end. Who will help? Who will stand up, speak up and rise up to the challenge?
Is this a timely article? Absolutely! However, it sat in my drafts folder for two years…
The purpose here is to educate, provide greater understanding and help facilitate ease of access to resources, support and conversation on how to handle a situation when it arises.
I have experienced bullying as early as 5 years old in kindergarten, through secondary school, high school, work, among “former” friends and in a previous relationship. Some say it’s a right of passage” or “a part of life or even “character building”. It has been referred to as the ‘Wolfpack mentality’ in the workplace, schools and ‘trolls’ on social media.
Bullying impacts confidence, performance, and FUTURE relationships. Most of the time I have been in complete dismay when it happens. Why? Unfortunately, it came from people I had trusted and even looked up to.
What did I do? How did I navigate through situations?
Well at times I leaned on fear for a time, to then standing up for myself because NO ONE ELSE WOULD!
It’s never easy to confront the issue, challenge the person, but having a voice is the most empowering experience. At school, I challenged a bully when SHE asked to meet me at the front of the school for a stand-off at 3 O’clock, just like the movie, 3 O’clock High. She never appeared…. Thankfully. I could breathe again too.
In high school, frosh week was viewed as an opportunity to torment the ‘Minor-Niners’. Rumors flooded the halls about meetups for bullying in the washroom, but no one ever appeared to slash me with words or become physically abusive. With friends, I slowly gained confidence and met friends anger with, “Let’s agree to disagree.” I would walk away and pray. Boy did I pray…
In the workplace, I would listen, then ask for clarification on statements to the point that made the bully appear obtuse.
At times I witnessed bullying or ‘boys will be boys’ attitude unable to infect with a more positive leadership style. No, that was ignored, and removed from any training provided. The “We know better” leadership style prevails as long as the leadership is run by tyrants.
This brings me to the interesting truth about bullying and its history. The Times introduced the first bullying incident on the 6th of August 1862, after the death of a soldier named Flood. The serious problem of bullying and its consequences warranted official mention and this was the first published announcement on bullying for the period covered since 1790.
What Is A Bully?
“A bully is someone who yearns for attention. A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker or intend to make someone weaker.”
Examples of bullying include; Name calling, ignoring the victim, excluding the victim from activities, harassing activities, stalking or following the victim, spreading harmful stories about the victim and more.
Where Do Bullies Come From?
A child does not wake up and knows how to be a bully, an adult does not simply become a bully. Most bullies grow out of two different or combined settings. They were either abused or bullied themselves, or they were so over-inflated by parents and other adults that they feel they have no responsibility for their actions. This second type of bully, unafraid of authority because they feel above it, is called an “intimidator” by Dr. Pamela Riley, EdD, the executive director of SAVE (National Association of Students Against Violence Everywhere.) Bullying is about the bully needs to feel powerful and in control over a person. Bullies believe that their wants are more important than anyone else’s. They need to tell a story over and over of how they are the target/victim in order to isolate the target from friends or family.
Where Does Bullying Take Place?
Bullying can be found everywhere. Please understand that this is not limited to children as adults are grown-up versions of childhood bullying unchecked by teachers, parents, and friends.
They are everywhere, at every rank, a position of work, on social media and it’s not excluded by race or gender…. It’s everywhere. They are in the workplace, schools, church, between neighbors, within a relationship (friend, family or co-worker) and on social media.
What’s involved? This takes thought people. Deliberate thought to cause harm, either mental or physical HARM.
Bullying involves intimidation through tactics meant to instill FEAR. Some offer threats of emotional, physical and psychological harm. Discrimination may arise by accusing the target to be inferior or wrong and even will present a case against the victim. The bully will isolate the target from others who may offer support. Observe the way they speak about their spouse, look at their interaction with others for intimidation and control. Some may invoke a team to assist in isolating the targeted victim.
In the workplace, the bully may single out the target, manipulate information, defame or belittle the target in front of peers or even behind the targets back. There are many situations that may arise and I’m sure you have experienced a few scenarios of your own sadly. As I stated before, bullies are chameleons, they are tricky to catch in action. If you do, it’s essential that you do what you can to help out the target or make it known to someone with authority.
Common characteristics of a bully may include one or more of the following;
He or she may exhibit some or many of the characteristics of a narcissist (Narcissistic Personality Disorder). Individuals with this disorder exhibit a lack of ability to empathize with others and an inflated sense of self-importance. They refuse to take responsibility or deny wrongdoing, insensitive to the feelings or needs of others, a need to dominate and control others and difficulty in seeing another’s perspective. Does this sound familiar? Who are you thinking of right now? A former spouse, co-worker, classmate, friend or even THAT family member…?
Are You The Social Spectator or Bystander?
Interestingly, the social spectator or bystander may play the messenger between the bully and the victim. At times the bully likes to work along with someone to help facilitate the process. Some bystanders instigate the bullying by prodding the bully to begin. Other bystanders encourage the bullying by laughing, cheering, or making comments that further stimulate the bully or even join in the bullying once it has begun. Unfortunately, most bystanders passively accept bullying by watching and doing nothing. Often without realizing it, these bystanders also contribute to the problem. Passive bystanders provide the audience which a bully craves and the silent acceptance that allows bullies to continue their hurtful behavior.
Reminder, as a bystander, you are a bully too.
If you stop the behavior within 10 seconds you help STOP the behavior from continuing or even escalating.
The Target…The Victim
A bullies’ target includes anyone that exhibits the following characteristics: A person who is envied by the bully, has low confidence and has the ability/power to control others of lesser power.
What CAN YOU do?
Immediately respond to the incident using a calm, rational, but firm tone of voice using body language that communicates authority. Deflect the attention off the target and redirect the situation away from the bully with another activity or get help from other peers. Most bystanders want to stop the bully however they fear retribution or think it’s none of their business. The Upstander is a person who takes action, particularly when the easiest or most acceptable course is to do nothing.
Recognize THE Signs
Poor attendance in the workplace or classroom. Isolation from peers leading to anxiety, overwhelm and depression. Shows unexpected mood shifts, irritability, or sudden outbursts of temper. Poor sleep or even insomnia. Poor lifestyle choices such as an eating disorder, alcohol or drug abuse. Reduced productivity.
A Different Perspective
A bully is a person who uses a mask to cover up the pain from loneliness, hurt, lack of love, support and understanding. It’s a deflection away from true feelings and reality in order to pretend to be stronger, to be right, to intimidate, or control. It’s a commanding of attention through the victim, bystanders, and social spheres in an effort to be seen, heard and valued. Unfortunately, bullying leaves visible and/or invisible scars.
Bullying Myths and Facts
Myth: “Bullying is a stage, a normal part of life. I went through it and my kids will too. Kids will be kids. ”
Fact: Bullying is NOT “normal” or socially acceptable behavior. When we accept this form of behavior, we give bullies more power.
Myth: “Bullying is a school problem, it should be the school’s responsibility.”
Fact: Bullying is a much broader social problem that often happens outside of schools, on the street, at shopping centers, the local pool, summer camp, in the home and the adult workplace.”
Myth: “People are often born bullies.”
Fact: Bullying is a learned behavior and behaviors can be changed.
Myth: “Bullying is easy to spot.”
Fact: Bullies are very clever and timely, taking action when they know where other adults or teachers are located. As a result, bullying frequently happens when peers or other adults aren’t around to witness it.
Additionally, bullies are talented chameleons. In fact, the most relationally aggressive adults or children are the ones who are socially skilled at becoming charming and charismatic on cue. They use the same skills to manipulate others in order to wound their peers. For this reason, it is essential to look to bystanders for help in reporting bullying.
The Upstander is a person who takes action, particularly when the easiest or most acceptable course is to do nothing.
Now I realize more than ever that any information about bullying may be helpful to you, someone you know or someone that needs to read this in your online community. Feel free to share if you found this helpful.
In two weeks I will be speaking to the Fredericton School Board students, teachers and parents about how to form more positive relationships through communication and self-leadership. We can always learn MORE.
Thank you for your time and attention,
Relationship Expert, Speaker, and Author
P.S. Together we can STOP the bully.
I’m Live every Wednesday at 12 noon on Facebook to answer your questions from the Otherside. Is there one waiting for YOU?