Bullying has many faces

Childhood memories should be happy ones, recalling a time of kindness and nurturing by people who care. Yet all childhood memories are not like that. For some, they echo hostile words and cruel actions perpetrated by peers or adults. Bullying is not a new phenomenon. Many children suffer in silence, afraid to disclose. Many have adopted severe coping mechanisms to counteract their helplessness: alcohol, drugs, self mutilation, suicide. Schools, community organizations and provincial governments are attempting to address the issue. Finally, bullying is being taken seriously.

What becomes of children who have been bullied, when they grow up? Do they get over it?  Do they continue a life of being bullied, in the adult world? Or do they finally lash out and become bullies themselves as retaliation against their own past experiences?

The term ‘bullying’ has many faces. For example, in the field of family violence prevention bullying is referred to as ‘abuse’ or ‘violence’. In the broadest definition: ‘bullying is harm caused by an individual in an attempt to control another person who is vulnerable’. The harm may have psychological, physical or financial implications. Harassment and discrimination are other terms that easily translate to bullying. Individuals of various nationalities, faith organizations, as well as gay, lesbian, transgender and disability communities continue to be victims. In the workplace, bullying is difficult to eradicate. It can be exerted by superiors as well as by colleagues. Clearly, there are policies in place to protect workers. When one’s job is at stake, however, the risk of potential negative consequences that may result from disclosure is a deterrent that often keeps employees silent from coming forward. Neither is the volunteer sector free from bullying. It may take on a different dimension and may not be as readily detected. It may be termed ‘aggressive behaviour’ and it may be exhibited and/or experienced in various institutional settings by care givers or by residents. And at the mainstream community level, volunteer organizations may condone aggressive, controlling conduct by overlooking it:

“Oh well! S/He is harmless… has always been that way!”

There may be reasons existing in the background of the child, adult or older person who is demonstrating bullying behaviour. Such behaviour may require long term professional attention with a view to correction and healing. The bottom line is: all types of bullying are unacceptable! Children and adults need to be encouraged to tell authorities or someone whom they trust when they have been bullied. We have a right to live in a safe community.


Katalin Kennedy

From: Echoes of Footsteps

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Categories: Marlie Stories and Musings.

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