And yet, the term bullying has certainly grown in popularity in the last several years. Is that because the actions of bullying have increased, or is it because the definition of the word has expanded to mean more than it really means?
Could it be that the word has been watered down by people who want it to mean any possible bad behavior? The definition, right, comes from a common dictionary, and indicates that the use of the word bully now can be defined as any general intention of cruelty. The word has, as they say, saturated the market.
- Create a new word or phrase to indicate the educational definition for bullying, or
- Define the actions being used rather than use a broad and popular label
After all, the label in this case - bully - is usually used to indicate that someone is a victim. It places a sense of inferiority onto the recipient of the actions. The altercation becomes someone else's fault. It becomes a one-sided dispute. And that's hardly ever the cause.
Parents, children, and educational professionals (not to mention lawmakers) must understand that one person hardly ever emotionally attacks another person unprovoked. That never excuses the action, but one must agree that disputes are hardly ever so lopsided. It is our responsibility to counsel with both sides of the problem.
One of the mistakes we make is to put the two parties in the same room too early. We match them up in front of us, where one still feels the need to be the victim and the other feels the need to be on the defensive. Emotions are too aroused in such a situation.
A second mistake we make is to make our children out to be victims unnecessarily. We make it acceptable, and even desirable to be be a victim. We create children who feel entitled to repercussion as if it is an award. We create children who think success comes from defeating a "bully" by using "the system", rather than by physical retaliation.
A third mistake is to believe that the so-called bully is the only one who needs to be counseled. We need to provide the "victim" with resilience skills, in addition to helping the "bully" to alter his/her behavior.
Calling a person bully - labeling a person as a bully - will never advance kindness and will only perpetuate the desire to continue with undesirable actions. By changing our terminology to address the real behaviors involved, we will immediately equip ourselves with more meaningful methods that address the specifics.