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Bullying- What Is It?

An earlier article found that there were two types of bullying (face-to-face and cyberbullying) and that bullying was not a random act but an intentional use of power to put another person down. How young does a child start to face bullying? Are there bullying behaviors that are common to many age groups? Do boys experience bullying in different ways than girls do? Since answers to these questions are well outside my scope of knowledge, I received expert advice from Elayne Savage, PhD and author of Don’t Take It Personally! The Art of Dealing with Rejection. Elayne also bills herself as “The Queen of Rejection.”

Some children face bullying at an early age and they need to face decisions on how to respond. One child throws sand at another in a group. It sounds like a simple situation but the young child with the sand thrown at him faces a number of issues. What did I do to deserve that? Why me? Do I ignore this and let it go or retaliate? Quite a lot of issues for a young child to face.

Ignoring or excluding playmates from activities begins at an early age and continues through high school and beyond. In sixth grade one child in my son’s group of friends decided they would not involve him in any of their activities any more. He has grown through that experience and has done well, but he is still very reluctant to establish close personal bonds.

“Dirty looks” also begin early and transcend the high school years. This style of bullying is meant to demean another child by the way one looks at him. Dirty looks bullying may be copied from behavior a child sees at home where one parent uses this technique to bully the other.

Dr. Savage also states that there are gender differences in bullying. “Boys are more physical and verbal. Girls are more gossipy, taunting and exclusionary. Both types of behavior are rejecting and humiliating.”

How does that affect us? “Let’s face it, some of us are more sensitive to words, actions, tones of voice than others. The more sensitive we are, the more we can’t depend on adults to protect us, the bigger the emotional imprint [of bullying].” If a child is beaten with a belt or stick, we can see the scars. The emotional affects on a child who is bullied are much harder to determine.

Bullying is the intentional use of power over another person to humiliate that person or make him feel rejected. Are you a bully or is your child a bully? There are links below to a Cyberbullying quiz and a bullying quiz. You can also read my earlier article on the Boy Scout site at bellaonline.com. Let’s keep bullying out of Scouting and out of our lives.


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