Have you bullied anyone lately?
Many of us think of bullying as something that occurs on the playground among children. The reality is adults are as capable of using bullying tactics as any child. What is a bully? Male or female, a colleague of equal or lesser status or even a person of authority, bullies treat others in an overbearing or intimidating manner and provide persistent, unwelcomed behavior. They take advantage of people perceived as vulnerable for the purpose of gaining control over the victim or social group. With so many different types of bullies, many may not even be aware that they are bullying. From cyber bullies who send threatening emails or parents who bully through intimidation and fear, this type of detrimental and aggressive behavior can be found in our workplaces, our communities and even in our homes. Unlike constructive criticism, bullying is persistent and leaves the recipient feeling powerless. Even the bystander may become scared to confront the bully and can often adopt the behaviors of the victim or the bully. As a witness to bullying, don’t we have a personal responsibility to take action?
Recognizing the bullies in our life may propel us to hold the mirror up to ourselves. Have we ever employed bullying tactics to get our way? Some argue that certain forms of bullying are acceptable to reinforce social norms. Is this true? Where is the line between constructive criticism and unnecessary brutality? These aggressive actions are role modeled through other adults and send messages to our youth on how to relate to others. What messages are we sending through our bullying behaviors, whether intentional or not?