As parents, we all know the old adage: “Sticks and stones may break my bones but words can never hurt me.” We also know that this is a lie. Words do hurt. And it’s not just the words that we hear spoken to us. It can also be words that we read or pictures that we see. It can even be something not even directed AT us but just be ABOUT us. And sometimes, the bullying takes the form of things NOT done.
Let’s look at few different forms of bullying* from the most identifiable to the most insidious. In each case, make sure that the event adheres to the definition of bullying found in https://bhammartialarts.com/2021/10/22/bullying-can-drain-the-color-from-someones-world/
- Physical – the easiest to identify and control
- Verbal – the next most identifiable and controllable
- Social – harder to identify and control because it can be active and/or passive
- Cyber – hardest to control and the most oppressive
Physical bullying takes the form of direct physical contact between the perpetrator and the victim. It can take the form of grabbing, striking, pushing, tripping, thrown/launched items or theft/damage to property. Any time that there is a physical act that results in any type of harm (and you have physical bullying. It is the easiest to identify because there is evidence of the act – bruises, scrapes, cuts, missing/destroyed property, etc. It is also the easiest to control through isolation and separation. If the bully is prevented from gaining some type of access to the victim, there can not be physical bullying.
Verbal bullying occurs when words or pictures (in today’s world) are directed at the victim in person in order to cause emotional, mental and/or psychological harm. Tiny flaws are magnified. Insecurities are highlighted. Differences are exaggerated. Words (and pictures) can cause wounds that no one can see which is why it is harder to detect. Verbal bullying can also be dismissed as simple teasing and sometimes victims are blamed or chastised for their emotional response.
Social bullying occurs when words and actions are directed to other people in order to intentionally isolate the victim from others. “If you are my friend, you won’t hang out with her.” “I want to go to the movies on Friday but don’t tell him about it or he might want to come too.” “Don’t leave any room at the table in case he wants to try and sit down with us.” This is hard to identify as it can appear harmless on the surface and easy to excuse as inadvertent, which sometimes it is. And most adults are reluctant to intervene in children developing mutual relationships.
Cyber bullying is the newest form of bullying. While it can sometimes be lumped into the categories of verbal or social bullying because of its mode (direct vs indirect) and impact (loss of self-esteem and relationships), it really should be addressed separately. The reason for this is its pervasiveness in our modern society and culture. When today’s parents were kids, there was bullying. But as a victim, you knew it would stop when you left the environment where it was happening. “Once I get off the bus, I won’t have to listen to that jerk anymore.” But with the Internet on our desktop and in our pockets 24/7, there is no escape from the verbal and social assault. Not only that, what once was only heard by a handful of peers can now have a global audience. What once only seemed like a few people out to hurt you can now feel like literally the whole world.
In a follow-up post, we will look at some of the things that we can do to curtail these different forms of bullying.
If you are the parent of a child that is on either side of bullying (victim or perpetrator), please reach out to us and we can schedule a free, no obligation session to help work with your family.
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*The four forms of bullying can be seen in more depth with the Hyper Martial Arts ™ Bully Awareness (c) material.