The Face of Bullying in America: What To Do If Your Child Becomes The Target of a Bully

Bullying can take on many forms including physical, emotional and verbal elements where there is a real or perceived “imbalance of power with the more powerful individual or group,” abusing those who are “less powerful.”

This can occur at multiple levels of societal interaction including the home, work or within entire neighborhoods.  It even occurs on an international or global level.  For example, when one country exercises undue power or influence over another it is referred to as Jingoism.

While we will be focusing on the more common scenarios by which we define the term bully, such as at the school level, it is important to understand that this behavior is not a new phenomenon and that it has been part of the human condition from the beginning of time.

In short, and as Norwegian researcher Dan Olweus defined it, bullying is when a person is “exposed, repeatedly and over time, to negative actions on the part of one or more persons.”  According to Olweus “negative actions” include a pattern of behavior in which a person “intentionally inflicts injury or discomfort upon another person, through physical contact, through words or in other ways.”

What is interesting is that  bullying has just recently been recognized and recorded as a distinct offence, which is a departure from the lighthearted view of college hi-jinx hazing portrayed in movies such as Animal House or a “boys will be boys” mentality that associates aggressive behavior with being a normal part of the adolescent experience represented by the character Flick in the Holiday favorite “A Christmas Story.”

Unfortunately, and tragically as demonstrated by the Phoebe Prince case, normalcy or lighthearted reminiscences has little to do with the real-life pain that bullying can inflict.  In fact a recent UK study found that between 15 to 25 children commit suicide every year as a direct result of being bullied.

A U.S. Secret Service report went so far as to suggest that bullying had played a part in many school shootings, and then went on to emphasize that efforts should be made to “eliminate bullying behavior.”

There have been many reasons cited as being at the root cause of why children bully including the belief that they themselves are being bullied at home by an older sibling or worse yet, a parent.

However, the purpose of our Special  Sunday edition of the PI Window, in which I welcome five time New York Times/Wall Street Journal bestselling author Larry Winget, whose most recent book “Your Kids Are Your Own Fault” should be required reading in terms of getting to and addressing the most likely reason behind the bullying problem – bad parenting, and the author of Think Like A Black Belt Jim Bouchard, is to talk about what can and should be done if your child becomes a “target” of a bully.

In the meantime, and while not necessarily a practical solution, the following video clip from the 1980 movie My Bodyguard will likely reflect what many victims of bullying would like to see happen to their tormentors.

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