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Bullying: When Power and Control Are Misused

Bullying comes in many forms. Asking for help can help stop the abuse.

Does it really matter why someone is bullied? Does one reason or another make it OK? Are you tolerant of these behaviors when you see them? Do you make excuses, rationalize, or do you minimize the actions of another? If you know someone is being bullied in the workplace, school or on a sports team, do you get involved to help? What if your child or best friend told you that he or she was being bullied, would you react differently?

Verbal abuse and bullying are a serious problem that affects many people. This power and control mindset is usually demonstrated by someone in management, a supervisor, a coach, a teacher. This type of aggression is particularly difficult because abusers are using their power through threat and intimidation. Therefore victims lack power to successfully defend themselves.

Bullying even has a Wikipedia page, which defines it as: “A form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power.”

Direct forms of bullying include:

• Demeaning or criticizing in front of others.

• Belittling or name calling.

• Spreading rumors, gossiping or lying.

• Rudeness, finding fault with you publically.

• Ignoring your input, not listening to what you have to say.

• Undermining your work or skills, ignoring your views and opinions.

• Standing too close in a threatening manner.

• Disrespectful or constantly dressing you down.

• Personal attacks and painful messages.

• Finding fault in almost everything you do.

It is human nature to notice we are all different. We see and experience our world differently. And we have different customs, often depending on where we live. But no matter what customs we observe or where we live, it’s so important to treat all with respect, equality and without violence.

When bullying happens, it not only impacts the individual being targeted but also has rippling and devastating impacts on communities, schools, teams, homes, classrooms and our workplaces. Bullying can cause the victim to suffer anxiety, health and stress issues, including headaches and sleeplessness. Other symptoms include loss of appetite, inability to concentrate and panic attacks about going to work or school.

Are you being told what to do or how to act? Are you not allowed to have a certain opinion by your boss, coach, a parent or a classmate? Are you intimidated on your team, in the classroom, at work or in a relationship? Do you feel that there is nothing you can do and that no one cares so you continue to do what your boss, peer or coach tells you to do even when you know it is wrong? Do you believe if you tell someone about the situation, it will only get worse and you might get fired, kicked off the team, teased more or seriously hurt?

If your answer is yes to any of these questions, you are being bullied. First, it’s important to know, nothing you are doing or not doing gives another person the right to bully you – emotionally, verbally or physically. It is not OK under any circumstances, and unless you make it stop, it will continue.

Today, we urge you to seek someone who will listen and who can help. If not, if the bullying continues, you will do things that you otherwise wouldn’t do because someone is “using force or coercion to affect your actions and behaviors.”  Ultimately, you could be seriously hurt, hurt someone else, and/or take your own life because of the bullying. Also, if you are a witness to such actions, we encourage you to report them.

“When people show you who they are, believe them,” and, “When people tell you who they are believe them,” said author Maya Angelou. Just because someone acts a certain way, it doesn’t make it right or OK, even when it is your boss, coach or parent.

You are not responsible for others’ actions or behaviors, only your own – in any situation and at any age.

Sarah Riccitelli July 23, 2012 at 03:33 PM
From what I understand, military boot camps use bullying tactics to toughen up new recruits. Should they be the exception to the rule that bullying is never ok?
kathleen lindemann July 23, 2012 at 03:48 PM
Good article.
Lynn Marr July 28, 2012 at 08:40 PM
Military boot camps shouldn't be an exception. Bullying isn't ok. Standing up to it, by the one being bullied, or by those witnessing it, takes courage. Bullying is especially prevalent now, on blogs, where posters can annonymously bully someone they've often never met, causing pain & leading to a rippling effect, often destroying the flow of conversation & ruining the discussion. These flamers are cyberbullies. Here, in Encinitas, many feel our current Mayor, Jerome Stocks, routinely uses bully tactics. He often interrupts public speakers. For certain speakers, if we go ONE MOMENT beyond our alloted three minutes, he begins interrupting repeating over & over, "Time's up." For others, he lets them go on for more than 30 seconds, saying nothing. It's all a matter of whether or not he likes you, or likes what you are saying. For those with whom he disagrees, Stocks fails to give eye contact while we are at the public speaker dais. Encinitas has a long tradition, an unwritten policy, of council & staff's not responding to public speakers' comments for oral communications, except to ask a question or set a future agenda item. But for that part of council meetings which is unagendized, Stocks also has bullied, declaring opinions to be "false,"calling on the city manager to make a lengthy contradiction. Stocks, without Council approval or public notice takes matters off the agenda, makes motions on unagendized actions, disallowing public or Council discussion!

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