Bullying was not an acknowledged phenomenon until late 1800s, although it probably originates back to the beginning of human history. At that stage only the physical actions were labeled as bullying, while almost no attention was given to the emotional aspect referred as teasing. Based on some theories, bullying was perceived as primeval and not a major societal issue. The first scientific research revealing bullying predominant in schools and bringing awareness of its gravity was published in the United States in 1978, followed in 1990 by prevention programs. In 1999, Georgia became the first state to enact anti-bullying legislation.
The past decade of basic research illuminated a variety of definitions, all of them containing the elements of imbalanced power and intention. There are three basic types of bullying:
Verbal – cruel spoken words, name-calling and disrespectful comments about an individual’s religion, disability, ethnicity, appearance, sexual orientation, persistent teasing
Physical – repeated aggressive intimidation such slapping, kicking, blocking, pushing and touching in any unwanted ways
Relational – excluding an individual from being part of a group through emotional intimidation, damaging social reputation and self-esteem, using obstinate gestures, blackmailing, stealing friends, gossiping, breaking secrets, criticizing personality, playing mind games
In an era where technology is overflowing with unlimited possibilities, traditional bullying evolved to cyber bullying, which consists of spreading rumors, lies, using humiliating mean words via computers and mobile devices through chat rooms, e-mail, text messaging, posting unflattering images, assuming the identity of the victims or sabotaging their work. People have been pushed into the cyber word with very little information and guidance. Hiding behind computer screen makes it easier to engage in behavior that otherwise would not.
We live within a plethora of environments: home, neighborhood, work, school, church, and community. Bullying creates a hostile environment and violates individual’s right to live, learn and work in peace. Bullying was and continues to be a major concern among students and employees worldwide. It is everybody’s responsibility as good citizens to stop bullying and prevent it from happening.
Remember: WE form and shape our society, and bullying is definitely not part of growing up!