October is national bullying prevention month and is used to provide insight and awareness throughout communities regarding the impact of bullying. Bullying starts in early childhood and continues through adulthood. Whether a child is being called names on the playground, being physically attacked in the neighborhood park or being threatened on online platforms, it can lead to long-term devastating effects. Bullying in the workplace in adulthood has also been a major issue and many adults feel they do not have a voice when this occurs as most adults who are bullied are often bullied by coworkers or bosses who have higher positions within the company. Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, physical abuse, cyber bullying, defamation of character, threatening remarks and social isolation are all forms of bullying.
Myth: Bullying only affects children and adolescents
Fact: Bullying often occurs among adults
Although the majority of bullying does occur among children and adolescents, bullying among adults is more common than people may think. Bullying often occurs in the workplace, within romantic relationships and on social media. Adult bullies were often either bullies as children, or bullied as children and as a result many adult bullies are often in a set pattern that is very difficult to break. Sexual harassment, verbal abuse, physical abuse, and cyber bullying are common mechanisms practiced by adults.
Myth: “Its not my job to stop this bullying”
Fact: We all need to stand up when we see an individual being bullied
Many people will witness bullying whether it is playground bullying or workplace bullying and many people believe that someone else will intervene, it is not their responsibility to become involved or they are afraid they may be hurt in the process. Psychologists call it diffusion of responsibility, when everyone assumes that someone else will intervene however research has shown that intervening whether it is speaking up directly or telling someone in authority, if the key to stop bullying from progressing.
Myth: “This stuff doesn’t count as bullying”
Fact: Bullying comes in many shapes and sizes and if someone is being picked on either through social media or on the playground then it does constitute as bullying.
Rationalizations are things we say to ourselves to excuse bad behavior. They could include comments such as: “I survived it, so it’s not that bad.” “He deserves it, because he’s weird (or younger).” “She did something worse than I did, so what I did isn’t so bad.” “I was getting even. He did something to me, first.” “We were just joking around.” You may want to mention some of these common rationalizations, and see if your child can explain why they don’t excuse cruel behavior. Bullying can occur in many different mediums and it is common to use indirect bullying tactics such as passive aggressive behaviors, “tongue in cheek” remarks, and narcissistic behavior.
Myth: Bullies come from the top of the social pecking order.
Fact: Bullying is often motivated by a desire for social power.
Many bullies are known as social climbers as they seek power within their social circles and will use any tactic to rise higher. Bullies in the workplace are usually power hungry and children who are bullies actually may be bullied at home and are trying to compensate. Often issues at home, such as divorce, abuse, or violence, leave both children and adults feeling helpless. Individuals who bully don’t have the coping mechanisms to deal with that powerlessness. So what do they do? Get power the only way they can.