Bullying: Definition, Please?

May 24, 2012
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The anti-bullying messages are ubiquitous; this generation is bombarded with campaigns against almost every type of bullying. However, there is a glaring error in the media’s portrayal of pressure and harassment between teenagers.

Here is the typical bullying scenario: one boy is pushing another boy against the lockers, calling him names. Someone else is standing by, watching this happen. Finally, the bystander runs for the help of a teacher, and the teacher quickly disperses the conflict. It is fair to say that this happens at some point, but this is not what usually happens between bully and victim.

Some people fail to understand that bullying can be little things that others might not notice: body language, tone of voice, a disgusted glance. These things don’t seem like a big deal, but a roll of the eyes can pack as much punch as a slap to the face, especially when the victim is repeatedly ostracized using body language. This kind of bullying is much more common, probably because it lacks consequences. Often, this is not even considered actual bullying.

The media typically depicts a brand of bullying that is more severe and outright. This is telling teens that bullying is pushing someone against lockers or sending a text that says, “U R STUPID!” The message adolescents are given about bullying absolves the bullies of more subtle nature. Also, the line between joking and bullying is ambiguous at best. Sometimes, one is unaware that his or her playful teasing is hurtful. When bullying is represented as pushing and shoving, the line between friendly and hostile is displaced, and a roll of the eyes is accepted as innocent.

Children and teens need to be reminded that these little acts of ostracism are not okay. Those subtle remarks are bullying, too. It is the responsibility of the media to at least try to more clearly define what bullying is. Furthermore, teens need to be smarter about the things they do or say. You never know what could be hurtful.

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Ha-5-rika said...
Jul. 6, 2012 at 8:01 am
You know, you are right! Those little things, small gestures and words are what break hearts and make one feel they are useless or ugly or bad. We need to be careful about what we say. After all, we can't take our words or actions back, can we?
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