What is “bullying?”
Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference. This quote by Winston Churchill makes a huge point, as most think of bullying as a typical activity that occurs in eighth grade gosip girls, and others think of it as a survival technique to get what is wanted. By Merriam Webster’s definition, bullying is the “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful.” But it is more than that. It is attitude, compassion, and understanding.
So what is bulllying really? This is what I asked four of my classmates, all in the ninth and tenth grade. I got their replies almost immediately. One friend said that it was “when one person belittles and hurts another person in any way,” another said it was “when a person feels extremely angry, sad, insecure, or is harming someone either physically, mentally or emotionally” because “[the antagonizer] is probably insecure and needs to feel highter than someone else[…]” and another said it was “repeatedly harassing someone emotionally and physically, in a social environment or cyber environment, over a span of days,” and even another said that it’s “not caring about another [person’s] emotions and putting them down despite what they think about it.” All of these classmates had different interpretations, but all had the same main idea: bullying is when someone hurts someone else because they are weaker than the person they are hurting. Merriam Webser’s definition does not mirror what these four students had in mind. It’s the best, smartest people who often get bullied in the American society. About 49% of students in fourth to twelfth grade said that they were bullied at some point during a month. Another 30.8% said that they were the bullies themselves.
So what makes a victim? The people who are bullied the most are often overweight, cannot afford what other students think is “cool,” are depressed and anxious and can’t seem to stand up for themselves, or are sexually oriented the “wrong” way. They can be sweet, innocent civillians, or they can be future bullies, getting victimized for the first time.
Bullies are often depressed, or have been mentally or physically abused by peers or guardians, and hardened because of it. Of course, to speak for all bullies would be a generalization, but most bullies don’t know what they are doing wrong, and don’t seem to feel the pain that their victims do. Inconsiderate is not the right word to use, though a lot of people mistake them for being cruel and rough. In reality, they are sweet people that reality soiled into a mess.
Breaking the Chain
There are lots of ways to “break the chain,” but do we really do anything to stop the endless antagonizing of our students? Do we watch closely at our students to make sure they aren’t hurt? Do we stand up for bullying ourselves? Does the authority do anything to ensure the equity of all students? The answer is no. My school district is a “No Place For Hate” zone, but all of my classmates know the feeling of being harassed, or harassing someone else with words… or fists.
But what do we do about it? What can we do? We’ve tried everything from ignoring them, to confronting them, to telling an adult, to shutting down our computers and blocking the perpetrator. We’ve tried to make an effort to end this suffering, but it seems like there’s nothing we can do.
First, there is aways something we can do. There might not be a way to change everyone else, but there is a way to change yourself. Recognizing and forgiving bullies for being the way they are is a good step to take. Next, one could practice yoga, which is all about respecting yourself and everybody else. After that, one can meditate, which is taking deep breaths while sitting in a comfortable place and closing your eyes, usually starting out with thirty seconds and working one’s way up to a minute, and then two, all the way to ten or fifteen minutes.
But if you see someone else being bullied, take action. Never put the perprtrator down in front of a crowd, or use a harsh comeback to “roast” the bully. It can lead to extensive loss in self-esteem and the reason bullying occurs is because of lthe lack of confidence in teens. But at the same time, you are encouraged not to act so submissive that nobody would listen to you.
There is no one way to scare off a bully, and there’s no way to make one look “cool” while doing it. It’s the turnoff for most; it is hard to stop bullying because there’s no way to look awesome while saying, “hey, that’s not nice!”. Most people don’t realize that the point of living is to be respectful and fair, not to look cool.
Qualifications of Bullying
Most people don’t think about the true meaning of bullying. The true definition, in the words of Amelia Baker, is “repeatedly harassing someone emotionally and physically, in a social environment or cyber environment, over a span of days,” putting emphasis on “repeatedly harassing” and “over a span of days.” There’s few actual “bullying” going on, just students occasionally being picked on by other students and calling it bullying. According to stopbullying, 20% of people in grades 6-12 actually experienced bullying when asked. Another 9% of stuents in the same grade levels said that they have been cyberbullied, which means that they have been bullied over the Internet. Either way, bullying makes someone feel down or lost for an extended period of time, or, for already depressed teens, it can lead to worsened feelings of hopelessness and worthlessness, social anxiety and, in some, ideations of or attempts of suicide, though most young victims do not become suicidal.
Standing Together, or By Yourself?
Bullying is a major issue in not only the U.S., but all across the world. If we all stand together, we could make a difference, but most of us are old enough to know that’s not going to happen. So we have to change ourselves. We have to change the way we see things, to better ourselves and to better our community, whether it be school, work, or the neighborhood. We have to realize that bullies are the way they are beause of other people. Nobody is born hating everybody. People make it so. We have to come to the conclusion that bullies need to be helped, not hated. It truly is the cycle of esteem, the circle of worthlessness, and the battle of lives, the war of confidence.
So as we all drown in ways to change this vicious cycle, all we really need to do is change ourselves. In the end, nobody is going to alter by force. Only you, if you choose to make yourself. The world is full of cruel people, but the only effort one could make to bring an end to it is to see people as infants, swept away by the current and shaped by the world.
Bullying is always going to be an issue for at least some of us; that cannot change. But what can change is our attitude. As Winston Churchill once said, “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.” We know this now to be absolute. We know that we have a major problem on our hands, but if we handle it in the best way possible, attitude could change, not with force, but by will.
Bullying is not “a typical activity that occurs in eighth grade gosip girls,” nor it is a “survival technique to get what is wanted.” It is not the “abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful,” but, quite contrary, it’s the understanding, compassion, and most of all, attitude, and the varying principles that have been taught to both victims and bullies in this ferris wheel we call life.
"Bullying." Merriam-Webster. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 03 June 2017.
Stopbullying. "Facts About Bullying." StopBullying. Department of Health and Human Services, 13 Sept. 2013. Web. 04 June 2017