It is time to bring bullying out of the closet. Bullying is when one or more individuals pick on another. It involves physical or verbal intimidation or abuse, and may include exclusion. Thankfully we are aware of bullying in schools and on the playground, and we would like to think the schools are addressing this issue.
There are other insidious forms of bullying that we need first to acknowledge, then to correct. The first is bullying in the family. This may happen between adults, or adults may bully children. Children may bully siblings. Sadly, there are increasing cases of teens bullying parents.
Bullying also happens in the workplace. Typically we think of the ones in power being hard on the underlings. Certainly this happens. It also happens that the weak can pick on the strong. As there is strength in numbers, a group of individuals may choose a person in power to attack and undermine in a variety of ways. The stronger one may be honestly and appropriately doing his or her job, and the attackers may resent that individuals authority or position in the workplace.
Frequently the bullying happens amongst a group that are all at the same level, so it is not a question of power or position. It happens not only at work, but in the neighborhood. As in the schoolyard, a group of adults may decide they do not like someone on their staff or in their community, and they proceed to make life miserable for that individual.
Typically they are in denial about the inappropriateness and childishness of their behavior. As with the man who beats his wife, they justify their behavior by their belief that the victim deserves such treatment.
These individuals have some major growing up to do. The dignity of every individual should be respected. Treating others with condescension or indignity, including disrespect, insults, disdain, berating, snobbism, and humiliation is meant to demean, to exploit, to wound, to harm, and to damage. It does this—in ways the abusers may never fully know. They ought not think for a moment their victim is unaware, for we are programmed to sense the energy of those around us.
The behavior of others never justifies bullying . There is no justification. If you engage in any of the above behaviors, you are bullying. Bullying is cruel. If you are doing it, stop. If someone you know is doing it, refuse to participate, and call it for what it is.
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