Dr. Deb's Mental Health Vitamin: Bullying

Dr. Deb Wade

By Dr. Deb Wade
GCU Vice President, Counseling and Psychological Services

“Everyone is fighting a battle you know nothing about. Be kind. Always.” 

This was the simple but potentially life-changing message printed in a teen’s memorial program. He had died from his own hand just days before, leaving a family, a school, a community reeling with grief and unanswered questions. Closer inspection revealed that he had been mercilessly bullied and antagonized … mostly on social media.

First and so very significantly, bullying is rampant! Though it’s been around forever, it is no longer just the big kid on the playground.

Bullying has become super-sized merely because now there are ways to accomplish it without being identified. Bullying is not your garden-variety aggression; it is deliberate, repetitive, humiliating, embarrassing and can be extremely damaging.

Cyberbullying, a bully’s anonymous but biggest weapon, is when bullies use the internet and social media to say things that they might not say in person. These bullies send texts, post insults and/or distorted comments, or they send pictures/videos/photos designed to hurt or embarrass someone else via social media.

Sadly, the person targeted by this meanness and warped behavior experiences fear, humiliation, isolation, depression and such intense loneliness and helplessness that too often they decide self-harm or suicide is the only answer.

Coincidentally, I heard a recent news report on television about a small town, Crandall, Texas, (population barely over 3,500) that is believed to be the first in Texas to outlaw bullying!

It seems that bullying had so infected their school system (and had resulted in a suicide) that they took the historic step by unanimously approving the proposal to make Bullying a Class C Misdemeanor.

Yes … it is taken seriously in Crandall and is a criminal offense! The leaders in this small town had seen the national trends with our youth and decided that it’s time to do something about bullying … and they did!

Bullying … it has been around forever, yet it’s not always with children. A bully can be an aggressive juvenile, an intimidating boss or colleague, a controlling romantic partner or a condescending family member or friend.

But they all have one overriding quality in common: They are opportunistic and tend to prey on people they perceive as a threat or dislike because of differences. Bullies are really cowards at their core, but the pain they inflict can be extremely damaging, abusive and life-changing.

If you have been the target of bullying or you are aware of someone who has, speaking about it (with a trusted friend or counselor) can begin the process of destroying the painful hurt that has been inflicted.

That old saying is NOT true, “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.” Sometimes words are the biggest knife in the arsenal of a bully, and s/he will use them to slice right through you. Silence is the bully’s ally; therefore, speak about it, unravel the trail of warped messages that have been delivered right into your psyche.

The important thing is to not suffer in silence. There IS healing and remedy that can come from the unimaginable harm inflicted by the bully. Becoming a victor, instead of a victim, can take work … but can feel so good!  

And until the time comes when bullying is indeed a criminal offense punishable by law, the best we can do is to disarm and deem powerless the bully. Ahh … victory!

I heard a quote: “A bully is someone who hates you for one of three reasons: They see you as a threat; they hate themselves or they want to be you.” 

Let’s link arms and look forward to the day when the bully threat is of a bygone era!

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Bible Verse

How great is the love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are! The reason the world does not know us is that it did not know Him. (1 John 3:1)

To Read More: www.verseoftheday.com/