A very serious problem exists in society that is given only token attention at times, and is a serious detriment to the development of children and adolescents. Taking many forms, the act of intimidation known as bullying is an epidemic that takes place worldwide, but is particularly virulent in America, where the numbers of those bullied have risen greatly in the past decades. New forms of bullying have developed as well, giving a new rise to the problem and demanding new methods of prevention. Bullying is a continually evolving problem that must be met with new and innovative methods to protect the victims and understand the antagonists.
The definition of a bully is one who seeks to find gratification through use of force and/or intimidation against another person. While the literal definition is easily understood, the semantics of the word bully, or bullying, requires much more insight and critical thought. There are many different forms of bullying, and not all of those involve the same type of intimidation. The moral implications of bullying are clear for many, as there have been campaigns in the recent past that have been designed to encourage others to put a stop to bullying in all its forms. Bullying is an immoral practice based upon the acts that must be taken to fulfill the needs of the bully.
A great many people have been bullied throughout history, as it has become thought of as a natural part of life. As in life the schoolyard bully is often seen as just another niche to be filled, more often than not by the biggest and the strongest child present. This over-generalization is interesting but non-conclusive as it can be easily stated that not all bigger children are bullies, just as all smaller children are not weak and incapable of defending themselves. There are times when the smaller children are in fact the bullies because of other reasons than their strength.
The act of bullying does not require physical strength, but such a quality is typically shown by those who have the least empathy towards their classmates, and the highest propensity for violence. For such individuals the intimidation and harm towards others is a means to an end, a necessary action to get what they want. The act of bullying is the problem to be sorted out and eventually resolved, but the reason behind the bullying is what needs to be addressed and figured out. If one can understand why a person feels the need to bully others then they can attempt to find a means to correct or even abolish that behavior.
As has been noted historically and through various studies, many who begin to bully others a children are those who are lacking attention at home from a parent. Or there might be a role model at home who is a bully, in which case the child will seek to take after that person. In any case, the model for bullying is a call for attention. The fact that bullies seek attention if a very antisocial and sometimes harmful manner is regrettable, but it is generally explained by whatever environment they happen to come from.
For instance if a child comes from a household in which they are virtually ignored or neglected in any manner one of likely outcomes is that they will become a bully to seek attention. This is a very antisocial method to obtain attention. Without anyone to guide a child’s development and teach them what is acceptable behavior and what is not the chances that a child will seek to initiate contact in an inappropriate manner are quite high. This is due to the fact that without any parental guidance they have no real basis on how to react around others.
Bullies can also model themselves after those they witness and observe, such as parents,
relatives, siblings, or others they come in contact with constantly. At certain developmental
stages in a child’s life there are periods of time during which the child seeks to model their
behavior after others. What this means is that if a child sees an adult bullying others they will
likely feel that this is the social norm and will act accordingly. Mimicking another person is a
very normal developmental stage in childhood, and as such it is important for parents and others to present a suitable model for their children to follow.
The fostering of good communication and social skills can go a long way towards
preventing the act of bullying. Talking with children helps to give them an outlet through which
they can vent frustrations, convey their needs, and in general find a comforting listener that will
help them better understand what they are feeling. When children are left with no one to relate
or even talk to they are essentially being left alone to rationalize the world around them with the few tools they already have. In this manner many kids will attempt to interact with their world through trial and error, and will seize upon any method that gains them the most attention. In the case of a bully, negative attention is sometimes the only attention that is understood.
The attention given a bully, no matter what type of attention it is, stands as the reward, or gratification, that is expected upon the use of intimidation tactics. Such behavior isn’t limited to children but can also be attributed to adolescents and adults as well. In the later years this development tends to come when a person is not given proper guidance as a child and continues to act according to how they feel is right or at least by the only effective method they know. A bully is typically attempting to fill a gap in their own developmentally-flawed ego that wasn’t nurtured or otherwise directed in a positive and self-sustaining manner early on. This means essentially that they will continue their behavior until they find something that gives them the self-satisfaction they crave, if only for a little while.
Ironically the bully is typically the one who is really suffering. As various studies have
shown those who engage in bullying behavior are far more likely to engage in aggression-related
acts, experience depression, problems with their health, and mental instability (O’Brien, 2011).
While it is very necessary to provide a safe and health-conscious environment for students, workers, and anyone that deals with the issue of bullying, it is too often that many people come to think that the matter is the responsibility of someone else. For those who are bullied at work it becomes the problem of management and those higher up who run whatever establishment is experiencing the problem. In school it is typically the teachers, principal, even the superintendent if it must be taken that far. The real issue is hardly ever addressed until it is too late and counseling is the first step to take before preventative measures are initiated.
There are ways to prevent bullying, but they require diligence and patience. Communication between students and teachers and children and their parents are key in a school setting. A teacher must use their position as a means to better serve their students, not pass judgment on them when they are found to be in the wrong. Instead of punishing bullies, first it needs to be understood why they are acting out in such a manner. It is no different between a parent and a child, as they too must come to an understanding of what is expected and what is appropriate versus what is not. In the workplace setting the act of bullying is just as disruptive as it in the schoolyard, though with different implications.
Bullying between adults is in some ways very similar to bullying between children. While the overall use of intimidation is still very present, the idea that a grown adult should need to use such tactics to reach any type of gratification tends to appear self-defeating. Bullies in the workplace often employ different types of intimidation and coercion to get their way, far less physical but no less dire for those who are being forced against their will to accede. On the schoolyard it is typically known that the bully will threaten physical violence to get what they want, but in the workplace, where such tactics can carry more dire implications, other methods are used.
Despite not being a topic of concern, bullying amongst adults is a problem that does persist in the workplace. Anything from physicality to looming to even being a secondary bully are methods used by those in the workplace to attain self-gratification or to simply avoid being the target of another bully. Becoming a secondary bully is just this, joining in the degradation of another to avoid being a the next victim. While such individuals might have a greater moral compass than the actual bully, they are still more concerned about self-preservation than anything or anyone else.
It is often hard to identify with a bully rather than stand against them. This is true of many who have been in some way victimized by a bully at some point in their lives. Popular media has even touched upon this fact several times throughout the last few decades, bringing to light the issue of bullying and its adverse effects. Film, television, even outreach programs held by various organizations and sponsored by many more have managed to highlight the problem while attempting to find solutions that benefit the victims and the aggressor.
In addition to modeling themselves after parents or otherwise negative role models, the media is also seen as a part of the problem at times. Popular culture at this time is rife with violence, sexual content, and other such negative images that are seen as entertainment. When such images are viewed by children without any necessary filter to explain what is right and what is not, the outcome can often be that they will model their behavior by what works in the world of fantasy. Considering that even superhero movies and cartoons feature violence as a necessary act in the face of trouble there is ample room to deduce that negative emotions and neglect at home are not the only contributors to bullying. This argument is not as touched upon as others, but the media is in fact a means by which young children learn their habits, for good or ill.
To state that the media is entirely responsible for bullying is an over-generalization and a
dismissal of parental responsibility. Though it is involved, the role of the parent and/or guardian
is to insure that their children do not model themselves after negative stereotypes. While it is easy to say, the process of parenting is much more difficult when it comes to monitoring what children watch and what they see in the media. A parent is the first teacher a child will ever know, and as such carries the responsibility of instructing that child what is right and what is wrong from a socially responsible standpoint. Protecting a child from all media influences in this day and age is virtually impossible, but monitoring their input and how they process such images is well within the capability of most parents.
Parenting in relation to bullying is also a problem to be noted, though in more ways than one. While neglect and the overbearing presence of a parent can be a very real issue to the development of a child, the absence of a parent can be as well. With the advent of the working mother and the very real problem of single parents attempting to work, feed, and house their children, the very likely possibility of becoming an absentee parent has risen. This in turn causes children to feel both neglected and even abandoned at times. Regardless of the fact that the parent is attempting to do what they can for their children, the single parent often finds that they are either physically or emotionally absent from their child’s life. This in turn can cause depression, anger, resentment, and in turn can lead to antisocial behaviors.
Lack of parenting coupled with the effects that the media can have upon a child’s
development leave no doubt that bullying can in fact be caused by a child’s interpretation of how
to get what they desire, attention. Without a parent at home or at least available after work to
spend time with them or otherwise guide their decisions and how they look at the world, children
are left with nothing more than their instincts on how to react to the world. An important part of
any child’s life is to learn how to interact with others, and in lieu of a parent, there are programs
that exist and are oriented to giving children what they need such as attention, respect, and an environment in which they can experience positive growth.
A persistent problem that plagues both victims and bullies alike is not fitting into a particular crowd or even into a selected environment. People move from one home to the next, a family is split apart because of divorce, or something else just as equally catastrophic happens. In each case the damage done to the psyche of a child is hard to imagine, and in becoming disconnected from the world they thought was constant and permanent, children can often lash out and alienate those around them in an attempt to make sense of their lives. This in turn can lead to feelings of loneliness, depression, and a sense that they no longer belong anywhere. That in turn can lead to anger over a situation they cannot control, and thereby they begin to lash out in an attempt to make sense of their world, to gain some sense of where they belong.
There are programs that have been built to care for children that are experiencing such emotional hardships in their lives, and not just as victims. Those who play the role of the bully must be understood and care for as well, or the cycle will only continue. In environments that each developed program offers, there is no room for judgment, nor is there any need to feel the sense of not belonging, as each person is treated in a fair and respected manner. The development of each individual is carefully monitored and nurtured during their time in the program, and each person is given the confidence they need to move on when it is time. In this manner anti-bullying programs are a necessity that exists to prevent the continuation of the problem.
That tends to leave the only real type of bullying that is almost impossible to eradicate
and is seen to cause the greatest amount of depression in the latest generation of children, cyber
bullying. Based entirely online, cyber bullying is essentially the harassment and continued
degradation of an individual through the use of social media, which allows a bully to remain largely anonymous and able to wound a person with words and through ruining their reputation. While it stands to reason that this type of bullying is not as physically intrusive, it still causes a great deal of distress to many who have endured it. While it would be reasonable to think that ignoring the problem would give it less authority over an individual’s life, the truth is that cyber bullying is in fact a real and very serious problem.
There are steps to be taken in any form of bullying, but for the matter of cyber-based bullying there are other matters to take into account. While several of those are similar to the act of regular bullying, it is also important to note that cyber bullying requires taking steps to monitor what a child is doing online, how they are spending their time, and what programs they are accessing. Also to avoid any further incidents it is important to note all incidents of cyber bullying and report them to the administrator of the online site that is being used by the bully in question. Other steps are just as important but translate to real world bullying as well, including a zero-tolerance policy on bullying, and of course being involved in all facets of a child’s learning (Pappas, 2015). The simple act of being there for a child, to guide and direct their behavior in the desired direction, is often enough to prevent bullying. Online or in real life if a child feels secure, safe, and sure of themselves they will seldom if ever become bullies.
The very real problem of bullying is not always as simple as it is described. The issue carries with it several different layers of understanding that need to be carefully examined and dissected so as to truly realize the overlying problem. In order to deal with the issue the programs that have been developed need to continue and spread the idea that bullying is not acceptable, nor is it an acceptable solution to one’s problems. In dealing with the root of the problem society is at the very least making an attempt to prevent bullying altogether.
O’Brien, Anne. “Bullying Prevention: 5 Tips for Teachers, Principals, and Parents.” Edutopia,
George Lucas Education Foundation. 6 Oct. 2011. Web. 23 Nov. 2015.
Pappas, Stephanie. “Social Media Cyber Bullying Linked to Teen Depression.” Scientific
America, Nature America, Inc. 23 June 2015. Web. 24 Nov. 2015.