Defined as intentional acts that cause harm to others, most bullying and harassment takes place during the junior high and high school years. Kids are competing for a position on the social ladder and they pick-on “weaker” peers to try and widen the distance to gain status. They often use excuses such as “they deserve it” or “we’re only kidding” to justify their behavior. Before social media, bullying was almost exclusively delivered physically, however, with social media, bullying is continuous 24/7/365. Also, since it is no longer face-to-face, kids can type “I hope you die” and remain relatively detached from the reactions and harm they cause.
Texas Law9 defines bullying as acts by one or more students directed at another student that exploits an imbalance of power and involves written, verbal or electronic expression, physically harming a student, damaging their property placing a student in reasonable fear of harm to their person or property. Additionally, acts that are sufficiently severe, persistent, or pervasive enough that the actions or threats create an intimidating, threatening, or abusive educational environment, substantially disrupts the educational process or infringes on the rights of the victim at school.
Bullying can be:
- Individual or group - one or several people, known or anonymous
- Verbal - name calling, insulting/demeaning comments, taunting, threatening, embarrassing
- Social - leaving out, turning others against them, spreading rumors
- Physical - hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking their property, rude gestures
The legal definition has been expanded in the following way:
- Consist of all communication (direct, indirect, cyber-bullying fake profiles, photoshopping pics, fake profiles or pics)
- Includes OFF-CAMPUS actions and communications that impact people at school or the school environment
- No longer has to be a pattern, can be one singular significant act
- Authorities and ALL parties’ parents must be notified, parents of bullies can be prosecuted or sued
Texas recently added bullying to the harassment statute.10
The two primary elements of harassment are:
- The intent of the perpetrator - refers to the desire or goal of the person committing the act has the intent to “harass, annoy, alarm, torment, or embarrass” another person.
- The harassing behavior itself.
- Requesting an obscene activity, such as sexually based pictures or video
- Threatening harm to another person, family members, or property
- Transmission of a false report of the death or bodily injury of another person
- Calling or sending messages in an annoying, threatening, or abusive manner
What Can You Do About It?
The fastest most effective way to STOP IT is to call out people who are doing it WHEN they are doing it. The In Real Life #BeStrong video shows what happens when online bullying is taken offline. It is a terrific campaign because it shows how to undercut bullies power making it socially unacceptable to bully or harass. Bullies are social predators who lack conscience and do it to gain status. If their actions make them lose peoples attention, they don’t win.
Watch the video below and ask yourself:
- What would you do if you saw this happening at, a store, restaurant or school?
Video | 2:07
Social predators11 – noun – synonym: exploiter, user. Predators, by definition, are those individuals who thrive in life by preying on other humans as if they are an energetic food source. They are known for exhibiting traits of egocentrism, aggressive (often violent) social mannerisms.
Do you? Are you? Know someone who is a social predator?
- Always strives to win rather than be part of the group
- Fiercely competitive at all times, fails to understand the difference between pro-social and abusive behavior
- Justifies lies, conniving, smear campaigns, breaks trusts, will say or do anything to win the desired response
- Uses charm and manipulation to get what they want from others, including family, friends, co-workers, etc.
- Modifies personality to act as needed to stay out of trouble
- Lacking targets starts putting friends down
- If called out, claims “just kidding,” or other people shouldn’t be so sensitive
- Members of their group really wish they would chill but are scared to get on their bad side
Identify with any of these? Check yourself!
MOST people mature out of bullying after graduation. They realize popularity and status no longer count. Everyone starts with a clean slate and how you are defined is by your work and work ethic.
The problem is, it's habit-forming. FBI investigators state that most child molesters start when they are 10 or 11 years old. As it continues, it becomes a part of their mental wiring. So do other behaviors, such as bullying. According to a study by Michigan State University12, people who bullied frequently struggle after graduation because they lack people-skills and cannot be trusted which leads to job and friend loss as an adult. Conversely, people who were bullied, often do very well because they developed resilience, compassion, and empathy.
Bullying Resource Links
I Love You Guys Foundation - On September 27th, 2006 a gunman entered Platte Canyon High School, held seven girls hostage and ultimately shot and killed Emily Keyes. During the time she was held hostage, Emily sent her parents these text messages: "I love you guys" and "I love u guys. k?" Her parents started the I Love You Guys Foundation13 in her memory.
Don’t Be A Bully (DBAB) are dedicated to inspiring and transforming the lives of youth through education about the prevention of bullying and youth violence. They strive to educate and motivate our community through their stage productions, youth workshops, seminars and dialogue discussions.14
Born This Way Foundation15 leverages rigorous academic research and authentic partnerships to provide young people with kinder communities, improved mental health resources, and more positive environments – online and offline.
Stopbullying.gov - Although currently no federal law directly addresses bullying, in some cases, bullying overlaps with discriminatory harassment when it is based on race, national origin, color, sex, age, disability, or religion. When bullying and harassment overlap, federally-funded schools (including colleges and universities) must resolve the harassment. When the situation is not adequately addressed, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office for Civil Rights and the U.S. Department of Justice’s Civil Rights Division may be called in.16
There are 100’s, maybe 1000’s of bullying programs - check it out!
9Bullying Definition – Texas Law 42.07, www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.37.htm#37.0832
10Texas Harassement Law – www.statutes.legis.state.tx.us/Docs/ED/htm/ED.37.htm#37.0832
11Social Predators – flyingmonkeysdenied.com/definition/social-predators/
12Univeristy, M. S. Retrieved from news.jrn.msu.edu/bullying/2012/04/01/bullies-as-adults/
13I Love You Guys – iloveuguys.org/
14DBAB - www.dontbeabully.org/
15Born This Way Foundation - bornthisway.foundation/
16StopBullying.gov - www.Stopbullying.gov