Bullying is a universal problem that affects everyone in society-young or old. Bullying involves a pattern of repeated aggressive behavior with negative intent directed from one person or persons to another where there is a power difference. We owe it to ourselves to stop bullies through appropriate people in power or law enforcement.
The Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines bullying as:
‘abuse and mistreatment of someone vulnerable by someone stronger, more powerful, etc. : the actions and behavior of a bully.’
There are many places where bullying can take place. Infamously, bullying can take place in the workplace, schoolyard, home, in politics and on the internet among other places. Bullying can take the form of a few jibes in the schoolyard or progress to serious physical harm, destruction of property or even reputation. Most of us have been bullied at one time or another.
Throughout historical literature, there have been famous bullies that audiences love to hate. Draco Malfoy in J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter series is a fine example of a spiteful character. He was obsessed with genetic bloodline over merit and anyone who didn’t fall into his conception of that superior race was constantly barracked with verbal abuse. Deep down, there is a feeling that Malfoy is actually jealous of the easy-going friendship of the three main characters and unhappy with his own life – like most bullies.
Many famous celebrities who made successful careers have opened up about their own experiences of bullying:
Lady Gaga, who was the first woman to win an Oscar for Best Song at the Academy Awards, revealed screenshots of a bullying Facebook group. It was set up by fellow university students. The group was entitled, ‘Stefani Germanotta, you’ll never be famous,’ and had twelve members.
Victoria Beckham is another good example of a celebrity who said he suffered bullying when she was younger. She sadly said: “They were literally picking things up out of the puddles and throwing them at me, and I just stood there,
on my own. No one was with me. I didn’t have any friends.”
Unfortunately, throughout school history sometimes bullying has gone too far with terrible results. On march 24 th 1994 The Associated Press News reported, ‘A U.S. 15-year-old high school student shot himself to death in a classroom Friday,’ in front of students. The victim, Brian Head cried out: “I can’t take it anymore!”
In previous years, Brian had complained at school and to his parents about teasing and bullying, mainly about his weight. They assured him things would improve as kids matured. “We didn’t realize how severe it was,” his Father said.
On one occasion, Brian had required stitches after being punched in the eye. The bully was removed from school.
If we want to stop bullying, when bullies form gangs and pick on a few or one person, it’s important to note all the names and provide the teacher with them accordingly. Not one of the bullies should escape justice. In most countries physical assault is a serious crime, worthy of informing the police. Serious bullying at school, which should be reported to the police- according to the British Government website include:
- violence or assault
- repeated harassment or intimidation, for example name calling, threats and abusive phone calls, emails or text messages
- hate crimes
Physical assault which actually even includes throwing water is a crime. If your teachers aren’t helping (which would be rare) simply call the police. They will see your wounds and speak to witnesses and the property owner who can back your claim for a prosecution against the bully.
Bullying in the workplace is a common occurrence around the world. Most developed legal systems protect their citizens from the scourge of bullying. It’s affects on some people can destroy their lives. Please remember, no job is worth being put through misery by an angry boss or cruel colleagues. Speak up in meetings to stop the bullying and if that doesn’t work resign and work in a nicer environment. Bullying and harassment in the workplace is behavior that makes someone feel intimidated or offended. If you feel you are being bullied at work you may try to resolve it by speaking with a manager, HR department or trade union representative. If that doesn’t work you can take legal action through an employment tribunal. Check in search engines for a local or national helpline number. Remember employers are responsible for preventing bullying and harassment in the workplace and are legally liable.
What makes a bully? According to Psychology Today studies reliably show that bullies have a, ‘distinctive cognitive make-up—a hostile attributional bias, a kind of paranoia. They perpetually attribute hostile intentions to others.’
Bullies justify the use of violence because they see it as the answer to threats that are often not there.
Reports child psychologist Melissa DeRosier, Ph.D., of the University of North Carolina: “Bullies are clueless as to how little they are liked. They are out of touch with what kids think.”
What can you do if you’re being bullied?
It is incredibly important that you go through the appropriate channels by firstly telling a parent, teacher, guardian or another responsible adult. If that doesn’t work, please contact the police when bullying becomes physical to you or your property. Even if you don’t want to report it, speak to a friend and don’t feel like you have to go through it alone because you don’t.
To end on a more happy note sometimes bullying backfires on the bullies and rewards the bullied in unexpected ways. In February 2024, a video went viral of an Australian boy who suffered from dwarfism, threatening to kill himself, clearly distressed at the treatment he’d had from school bullies. A Go Fund me page was set up for Quaden Bayles, to take him to Disney World and cheer him up. At the time of writing the page raised over $300, 000. Famous celebrities including Hugh Jackman sent him messages, supporting the 9 year old. With great pride he also accepted an invitation to march out with his favorite aborigine football team.
Jackman said: ‘He is already a superhero for surviving’.