What Is Bullying?

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Bullying is never okay. | Source: ShutterStock

I think in some form or another, we all have kind of a sense of what bullying is, but I don’t think we always realize how much the topic of bullying covers and also the very seriousness of the issue.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services has put together the website StopBullying.gov, which is an extremely good resource that has helped inform us, and now we want to help inform you. Plus, how promising is it to see the government getting involved with an issue like this?!

StopBulling has a really.gov thorough definition that shows how much the term covers. Bullying involves aggressive behavior that has been (or could be) repeated, and it occurs in an environment where there is an uneven distribution of power. Types of bullying include “verbal,” “physical” and “social” (this last one meaning when the bullying damages the victim’s reputation or their relationships, through things like exclusion and rumors). There is also “cyber bullying” which is technology-based bullying. Slut shaming – which we take a major stand against on our site – is a form of bullying too. While there may be different types of bullying, it is important to remember that these are all harmful.

The 2011 Youth Risk Behavior Survey found that 1 in 5 high school students experienced bullying at school in the previous year, and a little over 16% of them experienced cyber bullying during that same time. Not okay. It is also not nearly as simple as the bully vs. the bullied – even those who just see bullying happening around them are part of the bigger picture. The thing is that ALL of these involved groups have been identified as being more likely to experience some really sad and negative consequences in their futures. It’s really scary to think about how serious and long lasting those effects of bullying could be.

If bullying is something that you find is happening around you, we urge you to speak up – seek out an adult that you trust who can guide you through the process. Again, check out StopBullying.gov – we were able to pass along some of their information to you here, but it’s really just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to bullying. It can maybe feel complicated and confusing, so use this as a resource. Whether you are in class or online, you and everyone else deserve to feel safe and respected.

Bullying came up in the news recently in the conflict between Lady Gaga and the Osbournes, so it’s clear bullying isn’t just a topic that stops being important or relevant after you leave school. There are though some bright spots as we work together to address bullying. What about things like those online compliment pages? Pretty awesome, yeah? We’ve also been able to highlight really inspiring stories of teammates and communities come together to support bullied teens.

As inspiring as these stories are, the hope though is that we can eliminate bullying from the start. There’s no room in our world for anything besides treating one another with respect.

Is bullying an issue at your school or in your community? Does your school or community take action against bullying? Have you ever dealt with bullies? How did you handle it? Tell us in the comments.

Confession: I Was A Cyber Bully

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