Definition of bullying

The Oxford Dictionary defines bullying as “Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something”.

The real life definition of bullying is someone who uses physical strength, emotional blackmail and verbal threats towards another human being to intimidate, harass, belittle and degrade them.

We joke about “being a bully” when we coerce our friends or family in a light hearted way but the sad reality is that we don’t really know what impact our words and actions are having on the other person. We don’t know what their current emotional state is, whether they are in a vulnerable place in their lives, are they having issues at home etc., we know nothing but what they let us see on the outside. That means we may infact be making their life a lot worse by intimidating and coercing them even if we think it is all in fun.  Playing with people’s emotions is never fun and can have serious ramifications even to the point of loss of life.

As Australians we have a culture where it is okay to rib, joke, muck around with each other, and to an extent it is okay, but when you start to do so and it takes on a far deeper meaning for the recipient then you really need to step back and ask yourself the question of “is this still being seen as fun?” – the answer will probably surprise you. We need to stop the culture of calling someone a pussy or a princess because they are showing signs of weakness. We need to stop telling people to harden up because words are hurting them. The old saying “sticks and stones will break my bones but names will never hurt me” is completly untrue. We know that words can have a lasting impact on a person’s life. They can belittle them to a point where their self-esteem is completely eroded. Their self-worth becomes so fragile that they being to contemplate why they should even be alive on this earth. And for some, it becomes all too much and suicide becomes their only option to end the pain of incessant bullying.

When anyone takes their own life it is a very sad day for humanity. When a young child feels that it is their only option then it is time we really look at our society and our culture and ask is it really a “fun” way to treat people.