We all do it. We get into the “habit” of using certain phrases and many times don’t even realize that it could be offensive and hurtful to others. This behavior is known as bullying.
“Look at that man!! He’s SO fat! That’s disgusting! I’ll never get that fat!”
All the while the person you are saying that to has a silent but broken heart because they used to weigh 300 lbs.
“Ha Ha Ha Ha!! Look how ugly that girl is! She looks like she came through a meat grinder!”
All the while the person you are saying that to has a silent but broken heart because she had plastic surgery on her own face after withstanding abusive and mean words about how ugly she was for most of her life.
“That dog is the ugliest thing I’ve ever seen!”
All the while the person you are saying that to has a silent but broken heart because she knows that the dog and the joy and comfort it has brought to its new owner, a paraplegic who previously wanted to kill himself.
“That guy is really weird!! He’s not playing with a full deck! He’s just ‘not all there.’ ”
All the while the person you are saying that to has a silent but broken heart because he has a nephew who has Asperger’s Syndrome and people say mean thing all the time about him.
And here’s a biggy:
“You’re retarded! Hahahahahahaaa” or “You’re a retard!! Hahahahahahahaha!”
All the while the person you are saying that to has a silent but broken heart because they have a little brother with Down’s Syndrome who is the most precious little human being on earth.
“Oh, DON’T invite him to the party! He’s a geek/nerd!!”
All the while the person you are saying that ABOUT has a silent but broken heart because they are that geek/nerd and heard you say this and they desperately try to balance between being themselves and conforming to the millions of ideas that others think are NOT geeky/nerdy.
And how many of us haven’t been the brunt of bullying? We have had others tease us or speak unkindly about us to others, face to face, as well as behind our backs. The truth is, Bullying hurts.
The American Psychological Association defines “bullying” as: “ …a form of aggressive behavior in which someone intentionally and repeatedly causes another person injury or discomfort. Bullying can take the form of physical contact, words or more subtle actions. The bullied individual typically has trouble defending him or herself and does nothing to “cause” the bullying.” (http://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/index.aspx)
An article in Forbes Magazine, “The Psychological Effects of Bullying Last Well Into Adulthood, Study Finds”, contributed by Alice G. Walton we learn of some of the lasting and serious psychological roots planted by seeds of bullying. “Kids who had been victims only (who never bullied others) had greater risk for depressive disorders, anxiety disorders, generalized anxiety, panic disorder and agoraphobia as adults. But worse off were kids who were both bully victims and bullies – they experienced all types of depressive and anxiety disorders, and suffered most severely from suicidal thoughts, depressive disorders, generalized anxiety and panic disorder, compared with the other groups of participants. In fact, about 25% of these participants said they had suicidal thoughts as young adults, and about 38% had panic disorder” (http://www.forbes.com/sites/alicegwalton/2013/02/21/the-psychological-ef...)
Rebecca Marino, a former Canadian Professional tennis player, has been ranked as high as 38th in the world in women’s professional tennis. At the young age of 22 she has accomplished more than most women in the profession. However, Ms. Marino has resigned from professional tennis due to her struggle with online abuse she was receiving from “fans” who berated her on social media. Ms. Marino endured tweets from people she had never met telling her to “go die” and “go burn in hell”. Because of the cyber bullying against her, Ms. Marino said that tennis is no longer fun for her and that there is no point to continue in something, even at such a high level, if it isn’t fun. (http://sports.yahoo.com/blogs/tennis-busted-racquet/rebecca-marino-quits...)
Stopbullying.gov indicates that there are three types of Bullying: Verbal, Social, and Physical. Verbal bullying is saying or writing mean things and can include teasing, name-calling, inappropriate sexual comments, taunting and threatening to cause harm. Social bullying, sometimes referred to as relational bullying is hurting someone’s reputation or relationships and may include leaving someone out on purpose, telling others not to associate with someone, spreading rumors about someone, and embarrassing someone in public intentionally. Physical bullying involves hurting a person’s body or possessions and may include hitting, kicking, pinching, spitting, tripping, pushing, taking or breaking someone’s possessions, making mean or rude hand gestures. (http://www.stopbullying.gov/what-is-bullying/definition/index.html)
Bullying has become so prevalent in the United States that many states are now implementing laws to punish offenders. (http://www.stopbullying.gov/laws/index.html)
Fortunately, there are many resources available to help the bullied:
One of the greatest ways to help is when others present and witnessing bullying confront the bully, especially in the presence of the bullied. Many “tolerate” bullies because they themselves do not wish to be the wall against the bully throws his next stone. Additionally, if those present defend the bullied and even gather around that individual and leave the bully, the results can be amazing. The “gang mentality” is culturally devastating to any society or group.
The bottom line here? Every one of us need to think before we speak, myself included. May we learn to put ourselves in the place of the injured, bullied one and speak not a vicious, mean word. May we apply the Golden Rule in our actions, which stems from our words, which stems from our thoughts.