Last month’s article focused on an indigenous definition for bullying. Local bullies usually move in small groups (roughly five to nine members). They have an edge, usually physical, over their victims, are generally male, stronger, bigger, and older. Their victims are perceived as weaker, smaller, and younger. This month I would like to expand on the definition as well as define the bullying cycle.
There are instances wherein a parent, person-in-authority, and even a child/adolescent may find difficulty differentiating bullying from plain taunting, teasing, or violence. I’ve been asked on a number of occasions, how do I know if I am/my child is being bullied? I’ve replied to this with several theme questions of my own: Do you have trouble sleeping? How do you feel when you wake up in the morning and have to go to school? Do you still like going to school? What happened to your eye, arm, or leg? Or how did you lose your watch, iPod, mobile phone, Discman, lunch money, etc.? These questions are indirect attempts to determine the extent of bullying done to a child. Such questions are especially useful in situations wherein the child may be apprehensive to share their plight with others, especially parents (who I discovered in my study to be one of the last ones to know if their child is being bullied).
Bullying is not limited to the stereotypical bigger male picking on a smaller and weaker male. This “social epidemic” has extended to females verbally abusing other females and males, males discriminating homosexuals, and on the odd occasion males bullying females.
The Bullying Cycle
A bullying cycle occurs when a bully, usually a boy, targets both sexes by physically and/or mentally persecuting or harassing them (Lowenstein, 1978). There are studies that show that the bully in school may feel powerless at home or in the classroom. ArticleThey have experience abuse, were terrorized, and violated and these experiences had them seek “victims” in order to temporarily alleviate their distress. Bullies usually select their victims based on something, which they do not possess (Perry, 2000). This could be in the form of wealth, intelligence, affection, and even approval from others. These new victims may then follow a similar path by attempting to find restitution through bullying others.
Unfortunately, there is no single technique that will immediately alleviate the plight of bullying. However, building an awareness on the subject as well as knowing that such a concern exist is the first step towards overcome this social epidemic once and for all.
*AS SEEN IN THE OCTOBER 2005 ISSUE OF BABY MAGAZINE