This newsletter is a continuation of my last message in which I am attempting to “upgrade” your understanding of the issue of Bullying. To better understand bullying, let’s define it.
How we define bullying has an enormous impact on whether we see it as “kids will be kids,” a “rite of passage,” or a reflection of a less humane and violent culture that we have created.
Experts in the field of bullying define it as “aggression or harassment that one or more people direct toward another person.” The person who is targeted usually has less social or physical power. Bullying can include physical aggression, taunting, threats and exclusion. Often, these behaviors are targeted toward someone because of his or her sexual orientation, gender, race, or other characteristics that seem “different.”
Bullying is a relationship problem. It is affected by social norms and can change across different situations. Over time, the same person can be a bully, a victim, or a bystander. And while the consequences for victims are easiest to see, bullying also hurts those who participate in the bullying, those who stand by, and the whole community.” (Quoted from the book Bully).
One cannot ‘feel’ statistics nor ‘feel’ a definition. I have sat with hundreds of children and adults who have been bullied. In their words, emotions, and eyes filled with pain and shame, their stories gave me a felt sense of their experiences and reverberated my own. I have shared about how stress makes our thinking confused and distorted and suppresses our short-term memory. Stress also disconnects us from our humanity. Bully helps re-connect us to real-life, not cyber-life or avatar-life or reality-tv which has been altered for ratings.
Those at risk of being bullied:
1. Children stereotyped because of culture, ethnicity and religion
2. Children labeled with a sexual identity (gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender)
3. Children with social skills deficits or special education labels
4. Children labeled with emotional problems or a mental illness
5. Children who are sensitive
6. Children who have experienced trauma
7. Children who do not have peer support
8. Gifted children