BULLYING: THE MODERN-DAY TABOO

Hailey Sinclair

9/8/20234 min read

Bullying, formerly disregarded as “simply an aspect of growing up,” is now a common issue at dinner tables, in classrooms, in communities, and on the evening news. Researchers and educators in bullying intervention and prevention have attentively listened to these encounters for so many years. It is critical to pay close attention to our current discourse since it is frequently a good predictor of our development and perspective. It can tell if we are on schedule and progress toward resolving the issue.

It has increasingly become evident that we must better understand and utilize the term bullying. But, unfortunately, this term is occasionally used when it should not be, frequently it is not used when it should, and on occasion, it is shunned because of its poisonous meanings.

Definitions are essential since they help guide our discussions on bullying. Realistic bullying standards involve all of us in successful attempts to prevent bullying. Misuse and misunderstandings of the term undermine our interactions; they confuse or deceive us in our attempts to avoid them.

The Definitions Does Matter

Definitions are important for discussing and reflecting on bullying, conflict, and aggressiveness. In addition, definitions govern how we execute initiatives and policies.

Therefore, what is the most accurate description of bullying? Despite experts’ debate and analyze this issue, it is widely agreed that bullying is a type of physical or emotional violence that is intentional, repetitive, and entails an imbalance of power. Therefore, all three parts must be present for an offensive act to be bullying.

Let us look at a few examples.

Sometimes Bullying is not Actually Bullying.

Examine past media attention of research conducted at the University of New Hampshire that linked sibling rivalry (physical assault, property victimization, and psychological aggression) to mental health issues. Even though bullying was not studied in this investigation, the term bullying saturated news stories across the country (for example, “Anti-Bullying Programs in Schools May Do More Harm Than Good” and “Bullying For Dollars: American College Football”).

The link involving sibling rivalry and bullying in the home is a fascinating topic. The media’s overuse of the term bullying as a euphemism for aggressiveness, on the other hand, may encourage educators and parents to respond to sibling conflict in ineffective manners.

The successful response to bullying differs significantly from the effective management of other forms of hostility. For instance, conflict resolution may be a helpful remedy for a sibling or peer hostility. However, such reconciliation is not suggested for bullying. Therefore, to recognize bullying among siblings, we must first examine what bullying is and what successful solutions look like inside the family setting.

Because proper therapy necessitates an early diagnosis, practitioners must be descriptive in distinguishing bullying from other types of violent conduct.

Bullying can occur even when the word “bullying” is not used.

Lady Gaga addressed Harvard University during the opening of her Born This Way Foundation, declaring, “This is not a bullying prevention organization. This is a basis for young empowerment.”

It’s admirable that the celebrated artists want to frame her project in terms of empowerment, fearlessness, and self-acceptance. However, to actively stand up to bullying, kids must also develop the skillset for bullying behavior, such as assertiveness and empathy. We’ve progressed far enough to forgo using the term bullying when it’s acceptable. Instead, we guarantee that children gain the tools they have to feel strong and fearless in the wake of bullying by openly training them about it.

Bullying Avoided for its Fearful Inferences

Bullying might be considered too poisonous to employ at all. Individuals have recently begun to believe that “bullying” is no longer appropriate. It is emphasized that accusing a youngster of bullying implies that he or she is on a path to being a troublemaker or perhaps a criminal. Similarly, people may be hesitant to recognize bullying children because they have heard bullied children grow up feeling ostracized and miserable.

This sensitivity to the word originates from a lack of knowledge about bullying and how to prevent it. Bullying is a significant issue that may be appropriately addressed. We must recognize that bullying is avoidable and does not always have disastrous repercussions. The proper knowledge and use of the term bullying allow us to comprehend the severity of the issue and respond accordingly.

Getting Ahead of the Curve

So, what are the implications gathered from such examples?

It is critical to discuss bullying frankly and publicly. Bullying is no longer considered “simply kids being kids” or a taboo theme. Children must understand that bullying is painful and may have disastrous repercussions if allowed to persist and worsen. They must understand that bullying is avoidable and that we have the skills and resources to end it. Finally, they must understand that people have to take such intimidation seriously and are willing to assist in preventing and ending it.

It is critical to recognize the concept of bullying. Children and adults who know what bullying is and the various manifestations it may take are better equipped to detect it when they witness it or become part of it—and to prevent unnecessary usage of the word when the circumstances do not need it.

We have made significant progress in our debates about bullying and our efforts to eliminate it; let us not be misled by the word itself.

It Is Your Turn To Make The Difference

We’d like to hear what you think. Do you have any stories on how using — or not using — the word bullying has contributed to the prevention or curbs bullying? Please express your thoughts in the comments section below.