Bullying frightens me – which of course is the point. A bully wants their victim to feel powerless and alone. But that’s not the only reason I’m scared. I’m terrified by the misuse of the verb. What happens when a word such as bullying is overused?
I know I need to tread lightly here – very, very lightly. So I say this in all sincerity, bullying is dangerous. Every incident must be taken seriously. Each report of bullying must be investigated. Which is why I worry. I worry when people ‘cry wolf’. What happens if the label becomes so misused it loses its impact?
What happens if innocent people become the victims of reverse bullying?
Sometimes we need to ask; is adult claiming to be bullied expressing anger after being reprimanded for doing a poor job. Is the child claiming to be bullied expressing jealousy after an argument among friends. Is the boy claiming to be bullied seeking revenge because ‘his’ girl choose someone else. Is the girl claiming to be bullied jealous because ‘her’ part in the school play went to another.
As I said, each cry for help must be addressed. No one should be left feeling isolated, scared or misunderstood.
Nevertheless, I wonder how often a behaviour is assigned a label before it is understood. Do some people choose the bullying label because it will generate the most attention. Worse, do some people claim to be bullied so someone else gets into trouble.
Perhaps we rely to much on labelling.
I wonder what would happen if we devoted more time to helping people understand their behaviour. Better yet, what if we helped people recognise the emotions and thoughts underneath behaviour? Maybe we could address causes of behaviour rather than treating symptoms.
Perhaps we could stop labelling and start caring for people as individuals.
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