I was a marginally bullied kid.
Like a lot of others, I endured a degree of torment from more popular kids. At the time, though, nobody cared. These days everyone does, as the response to the death of Amanda Todd demonstrates. But bullying isn't just a young person's problem - though they suffer the most profound scars.
Whether online or face-to-face, the experience of being harassed by others is debilitating. Why does this happen and that can we do about it?
"Adult bullies cannot share power. They see it as a threat. Traditional conflict resolution doesn't work with those who have bullying tendencies. The mistake people make is trying to reach out to bullies, thinking they'll come around. The only thing that will stop workplace bullying is intervention by a higher authority. A kind, gentle, peaceful person usually looks like a fearful person. Bullies often go after people who are competent, kind, easy to get along with, flexible and high-achieving."
VALERIE CADE, author, Bully Free At Work, Calgary
"Things that happen in adult life can trigger the [bullying] memory. Victimization affects people's self-image, and as adults they may go into situations as a victim. Every time someone is victimized, that person is conditioned to be re-victimized. And bullies, each time they get away with bullying, are more likely to do it again. So child victims and child bullies can grow up to be big victims and big bullies. Bullying can start as early as three. A child who is physically stronger and verbally and socially more capable may assert power over those less capable. Those same skills could be used in a pro-social way and become leadership abilities. The answer to bullying is the bystander. We call a person who stands up to help a victim an ‘upstander.'"
SUSAN LIPKINS, realpsychology.com, Port Washington, New York
"We view workplace bullying as a chronic stressor because it's a consistent form of aggressive behaviour. The impacts are poor concentration and memory difficulties. We see physical manifestations: headaches, musculoskeletal issues, nightmares, difficulty sleeping. If it goes on for a long time, there is some connection to heart disease, fibromyalgia and other issues. We also see suicidal ideation, symptoms that look very much like PTSD. There are spillover effects because people talk to their family and friends ad nauseam, and supporters get weary and frustrated with their loved ones. We see marital dissatisfaction and the breakup of friendships."
LORALEIGH KEASHLY, conflict resolution expert, department of communication, Wayne State University, Detroit
"Kids who are repeatedly bullied are at greater risk of depression, anxiety, migraines and loss of self-confidence later in life. They're more likely to have problems with alcohol and drug use and avoidance behaviours. By the time they get to college, we hope these things change, but the social damage may be done. Lots of those kids have lost opportunities to be social or to feel safe because they've been in a war zone. As adults some bully victims find ways to build resilience. But for many, the ability to be assertive at work or to show the strengths they need to advance have been affected. Dealing with those who have more power can be overwhelming."
JOEL HABER, clinical psychologist, international bullying expert, respectu.com, White Plains, New York
"An interesting paper from the U of Sheffield [in the UK] found a high number of those who reported being bullied had difficulty finding employment, and that 29 per cent of people with chronic unemployment were bullied once a week or more during middle school. Studies show that if you were a bully in school, you have a higher chance of abusing drugs, being convicted of a criminal offence or being involved in domestic abuse. There are studies on bullying among nurses. A community with a major hierarchy - as between doctors and nurses - encourages the kind of culture in which bullying can thrive."
CYNTHIA LOWEN, producer, co-writer of 2012 documentary Bully, New York City
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