Bullying goes beyond Pushing in the Playground

Have you ever seen someone getting beaten up? Have you ever seen someone get harassed, ridiculed, ‘punked’, or humiliated? Of course you have! We’ve all seen it! At some point in our lives, we’ve witnessed bullying. For some of us, we’re the victims themselves.



If you’re a human being, you’ve probably committed an act of hostility or aggression at some point in your life. That doesn’t make you a bully. Bullying may be defined as any hostile act which annoys, intimidates, coerces, humiliates, or slanders another person who is perceived to be vulnerable. While bullies can be defined as people who are in the habit of harassing others, and habitually seek to intimidate, harass, or otherwise harm other people who are perceived to be vulnerable in some way. Essentially, we can also say that bullying is an abuse of power.



Once thought of as a “kid problem”, bullying is reaching heights to extend not only to proximal environments (such as work , home and school) but is now also becoming prevalent in social media. Bullies encountered at work, or school or some other social avenue are hard enough to deal with, but when a bully is a friend, a relative, significant other or spouse, the situation becomes even more complex, with more despair. It’s important to understand that there is no age limit for bullies, and unfortunately, there’s no age limit to being a victim; anyone, anywhere is a target! We also need to understand that bullying is also not always limited to physical actions or intimidation, it can take several non-physical forms as well. This piece will seek to explore more on these ideas revolving around looking at the various environments within which bullying can occur and the forms it can take other than being physical.



Prejudicial Bullying


Prejudicial bullying is based on prejudices individuals have toward people of different races, religions, disabilities or sexual orientation. When prejudicial bullying occurs, individuals are targeting others who are different from them and singling them out. Oftentimes, this type of bullying is severe and can open the door to hate crimes as well. Any time an individual is bullied for their sexual orientation, disability race, or religion, it should be reported. Prejudicial bullying can come in several forms and can be extremely devastating for victims.

  • Racial bullying involves treating people badly because of their racial or ethnic background, saying bad things about a cultural background, calling someone racist names or telling racist jokes.

  • Religious bullying involves treating people badly because of their religious background or beliefs, making negative comments about a religious background or belief in an effort to hurt them.

  • Disability bullying involves leaving someone out or treating them badly because of a disability, making someone feel uncomfortable, or making jokes to hurt someone because of a disability.



Sexual Bullying


Another form of bullying involves sexual bullying which manifests as leaving someone out; treating them badly or making them feel uncomfortable because of their sex or sexual orientation. This can also involve making sexist comments or jokes; touching, pinching or grabbing someone in a sexual way; making crude comments about someone’s sexual behaviour or orientation; or spreading a sexual rumour and in extreme cases, even sexual abuse.



Cyberbullying


With the increase in technology and penetration of the internet, there has been a rise in cases of Cyberbullying. This Includes the use of email, cell phones, text messages, and internet sites to threaten, harass, embarrass, socially exclude, or damage reputations and friendships. People are not only being harassed and humiliated, but such gross mistreatment is also going viral at times. Sadly, in extreme cases, social media bullying have led to well-publicized cases of suicide. Cyberbullying can also be explained as the intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, phones, and other electronic devices. It might be overt or covert bullying behaviours using digital technologies including hardware such as computers and smartphones, and software such as social media, instant messaging, texts, websites and other online platforms. Cyber bullying can happen at any time and may be in public or in private and sometimes only known to the target and the person bullying.



Workplace Bullying


As the term suggests, this is bullying which occurs within places of work. It is best defined as harmful, targeted behaviour that happens at work that might be spiteful, offensive, mocking, or intimidating. It forms a pattern, and it tends to be directed at one person or a few people. It can take the form of targeted practical jokes, being purposely misled about work duties, like incorrect deadlines or unclear directions. continued denial of requests for time off without an appropriate or valid reason, threats, humiliation, and other verbal abuse, excessive performance monitoring and even overly harsh or unjust criticism. This persistent mistreatment can cause physical and emotional harm to the victims. It is essential to also understand that this type of workplace aggression is particularly difficult to identify because, unlike the typical school bully, workplace bullies often operate within the established rules and policies of their organization and their society. Additionally, in several cases, it is reported as having been done by someone who has authority over the victim. However, bullies can also be peers, and occasionally subordinates.



Relational/ Emotional Bullying


Relational aggression is a sneaky and insidious type of bullying that often goes unnoticed. Sometimes referred to as emotional bullying, relational aggression is a type of social manipulation where individuals try to hurt their peers or relatives or loved ones or sabotage their social standing. Relational bullies often ostracize others from a group, spread rumors, manipulate situations, gaslight, and break confidences. The goal of a relationally aggressive bully is to increase their own social standing by controlling or bullying another person and even making them question their own realities in some situations.



Social Bullying


Social bullying, sometimes referred to as covert bullying, is often harder to recognise and can be carried out behind the bullied person’s back. It is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and / or cause humiliation. It can include lying and spreading rumours, negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks, playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate, mimicking unkindly, encouraging others to social exclude someone and even attempting to damage someone’s social reputation or social acceptance.



We need to understand that Modern-day bullying can happen anywhere -- at school, at the mall or on a playground, at home or even over a computer or a cell phone. We need to be more aware of the forms of bullying and keep a look out for the signs because at times, there can be more to something than what initially meets the eye.

Written by: Yash Mehrotra


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November, 2020