The Problem of Bullying Today

Lifestyle, National News
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Bullying has become a hot topic in the U.S., hitting a cultural nerve as evidenced by the buzz surrounding the recent release of a documentary called “Bully” as well as a book entitled The Bully Society: School Shootings and the Crisis of Bullying in America’s Schools (NYU Press)”.

Bullying is a major cause of stress and can leave anyone feeling hurt, angry, frightened, and even depressed. By learning about why some people bully and why others are bullied, you can help yourself or a loved one cope with bullying, and develop the resilience and self-confidence to overcome such trauma and have high esteem and channel your life to be in a harmonious place.

What drives a person to torment someone else? To make another’s life intolerable, until the bullied, dreading the thought of one more vicious attack can only wonder: When will it end?  Will it ever end?  And how will I survive?

Bullying and stress in the workplace

Chances are if you work with others, you’ll be bullied at some point in your career.

In the U.S., where the practice is being studied, an estimated 37% of workers, or about 54 million people, have been bullied at the office, or repeatedly mistreated in a health-harming way, according to a 2007 Zogby International survey. The percentage balloons to 49% of workers, 71.5 million people, when witnesses are included.

While hard to quantify, workplace bullying is clearly costly for employees as well as employers.

About 45% of individuals targeted by bullies at work suffer stress-related health problems, according to the Zogby survey. That could include cardiovascular problems, an impaired immune system, debilitating anxiety and even post-traumatic stress disorder, says Gary Namie director of the Workplace Bullying Institute and president of Work Doctor, a consulting firm that specializes in correcting and preventing workplace bullying.[1]

Most of our stress doesn’t come from the work itself, but instead the people with whom we are involved. Create an awareness of how other people are making you feel, and if they aren’t treating you right then stand up for yourself or seek help.

Bullying and cyber-bullying in schools

Research shows that about 25 percent of kids in the United States experience bullying while even more of us are impacted by cyber-bullying. So what is bullying? Bullying is considered a repeated and intentional act of aggression where one or more people plan to harm or upset another person physically, verbally, or psychologically. While there are many reasons why bullies may be targeting you, the main reasons are usually your physical appearance or social standing within your peer group.

Bullying is repeated aggressive behavior that can be physical, verbal, or relational. Boys frequently bully using physical threats and actions, while girls are more likely to engage in verbal or relationship bullying. The results are similar in that victims of bullying are made to feel hurt, angry, afraid, helpless, hopeless, isolated, ashamed, and even guilty that the bullying is somehow their fault. Victims’ physical health is likely to suffer, and they are at a greater risk of developing mental health problems such as depression, anxiety, low self-esteem, adult onset PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and even death.  A recent study suggests found that up to 44% of suicides among 10- to 14-year-olds may be bullying-related. [2]

The most destructive aspect of bullying lies in its repetition. Bullies are often relentless, bullying over and over again for unforgiving amounts of time. Victims of bullying often live in constant fear of where and when the bully will strike next and to what extent they will attack.  This repetition has never been more visible what with our living in the era of technology and social media; cyber-bullying has made bullying even worse!

Bullying is often a learned behavior and many bullies can learn aggressive behavior at home. Research suggests that some kids and teens may become more aggressive by the amount of violent content the children are exposed to via TV, movies, or video games.  Also, parents often can set a bad example for their kids through their own bullying behavior toward one another, their own children are even complete strangers.

Parents dealing with a bullying child should first educate their child about bullying. Your child may have difficulty reading social signs or may not understand how hurtful their behavior can be. Foster empathy by encouraging your child to look at their actions from the victim’s perspective. Remind your child that bullying can have legal consequences.  Remember you are a model for your children. Kids learn from adults’ aggressive or mean-spirited behavior.

Paul Huljich, author of the forthcoming publication “Stress Pandemic” feels that stress plays a key factor in what can cause bullying.  “By managing stress, we can begin to tackle the heart of what often can lead to children bullying each other.”  Huljich states, “Teach your child positive ways to manage stress. Your child’s bullying may be an attempt at relieving stress, or your own stress, anxiety, or worry may be creating an unstable home environment. Exercise, Diet and Stress Reduction techniques are just a few of the ways for both kids and adults alike to let off steam and relieve stress.”




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