Bullying takes many forms, happens in many places and can potentially have terrible psychological consequences for the victim. It is an aggressive behavior — a distinctive pattern of intentionally and repetitively harming, humiliating or causing extreme discomfort in others. Nevertheless, bullying can take place in subtler forms like unwanted physical contact or subtle but constant moral abuse (e.g.: gaslighting).
Amongst the many things a bully can do to take to make his victim feel dejected and helpless, these are some of the most frequent:
- Physical aggression such as hitting, biting or pushing and shoving.
- In school bullying, a very common form is when the bully demands that the victim give them their money, their lunch, or one of their belongings. This usually entails some sort of threat to coerce and intimidate the victim into giving up their possessions.
- Sending offensive or threatening text messages.
- Threatening to sexually abuse the person being bullied.
- Whether in the workplace with the victim’s boss, inside a family unit or in school, another common expression of bullying is making things up to get the victim into trouble.
- Verbal bullying such as calling people names, teasing, inappropriate sexually charged comments and threats to cause harm either to the victim or to someone they are close to.
- Another frequent form of bullying involves spreading rumors about the victim, leaving the victim out of group activities, or making sure they are left out of social activities.
Although school bullying is the best studied, we know that there is more than one type of bullying and it doesn’t only happen in schools. Some of the most common places for bullying to take place are:
- Online (cyberbullying)
- Office environments
- Inside family units
- Between siblings
Fighting bullying is especially important nowadays when reports have shown that it is on the rise and that bullies are getting more and more aggressive. During the White House Conference on Bullying Prevention, president Obama stated: “If there is one goal of this conference, it’s to dispel the myth that bullying is just a harmless rite of passage or an inevitable part of growing up. It’s not”.
It’s not only President Obama and his wife Michelle Obama who are speaking up against bullying. Mainstream celebrities are doing it too by supporting anti-bullying campaigns, making appearances in anti-bullying events and some of them have even shared their own stories.
The enigmatic Victoria Beckham talked about her experiences with bullying during a 2007 interview with Elle Magazine. The former member of the Spice Girls narrated one of her experiences: “They were literally picking things up out of the puddles and throwing them at me, and I just stood there, on my own. No one was with me. I didn’t have any friends. People would push me around, say they were going to beat me up after school, chase me. It was miserable, my whole schooling, miserable. I tried to be friends with people, but I didn’t fit in. So I kept myself to myself.” Jessica Alba, a worldwide known actress, confessed to the Daily Mail that the reason why she got into acting was to escape school bullies. Christina Hendricks talked to the UK mirror about her experience with bullying as well: “My school days were pretty unhappy. I had the worst high school experience ever. I went to a very mean school and was bullied like crazy.
Celebrities speaking up about being bullied has proven to be helpful to fight bullying. It is, nevertheless, not enough. We have to take a long hard look at ourselves and at our societies and take the appropriate actions to stop bullying, a form of abuse so pervasive in our societies it has been called by many, including Amy Weber for the Huffington Post, a deadly epidemic.