USA Weekend: “Is there a bully in your life? – Whether the victim is you or your child, help is out there.”
What is a bully? Aggressive behavior that is intentional, repeated over time and involves an imbalance of power or strength. Bullying can take many forms, such as hitting or punching, teasing or name-calling, intimidation through gestures, social exclusion and sending or posting insulting messages or pictures by cellphone or online (also known as cyberbullying).
We now know that whether it is online, in the hallway at school or even at the office, bullies are everywhere.
We see heart-wrenching stories of children and teenagers who have committed suicide after cruel bullying by peers. The painful truth is that 15% to 25% of students in the USA are bullied with some frequency, recent studies suggest. And more than one-third of the American workforce will experience some form of bullying during the course of their lives, according to the Workplace Bullying Institute.
The news has served as a painful call to action for Americans about the devastating consequences of bullying. Still, the victims — be they children or adults — often don’t seek help or even speak up. Kids, who may think it’s just part of growing up, are too afraid. Adults whose bosses are bullies can fear retribution in the form of losing their job.
“Our society is more aggressive, more warlike, more combative, while traits like empathy and compassion are downplayed,” says Gary Namie, director of the Workplace Bullying Institute in Bellingham, Wash., and coauthor of The Bully at Work.
So what exactly can you do?