Bullying can best be defined as an imbalance of power. Whenever there is an imbalance of power or strength that is either real or perceived there is a potential for the greater power to intentionally threaten or harm the weaker one. This power struggles usually takes place over a sustained period of time and has the potential to escalate into violence.
There have always been tough boys and mean girls all over the world who have enjoyed teasing, taunting and making life miserable for other kids. But now, with more electronic media readily available through the use of cell phones and the Internet, bullying has become more dangerous, more devious and often more difficult to detect.
We used to think bullying could begin at any age but, typically it begins to escalate around the third grade, peaking by about eighth grade and tapering off in high school. We are now finding bullying often starts earlier and lasts much longer. The combination of cyberspace and bullies can be a dangerous combination. The escalation of cyber-bullying can range from mild teasing to death threats.
There are no precise national statistics proving how often or how severe bullying instances are. However, experts agree that 15 to 20 percent of children become the victim of bullies at some point during their school years. These same experts strongly agree that incidents are on the rise.
It is difficult to pinpoint the exact number of both physical, sexual and electronic bullying cases that happen every day. For any number of reasons including embarrassment and fear of reprisal children often do not report when they are being bullied. Also, it is quite normal for incidents to occur over a long period of time, with escalating severity.
Let's look at a case study on bullying:
On Wednesday, Tom pushes Craig in the lunchroom and calls him a racist name. Craig, who is feeling emotionally strong with his friends sitting at the table, handles it by replying: "When you say something so stupid, it just reinforces everyone's image of you as a bigot." Craig's friends laugh as Tom slams his water bottle on the table and walks off. Problem solved, not quite.
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