How To Deal With Teasing and Bullying
Are you being bullied? Let’s start by looking at the difference between teasing and bullying. To tease is “to laugh at and criticize someone in a way that is either friendly and playful or cruel and unkind” (Mirriam-Webster). To bully is to “frighten, hurt, or threaten smaller or weaker people” (learnersdictionary.com). So, what this all means is that much of what we consider bullying today, is really not bullying. It is cruel and unkind and unacceptable, but there is a big difference.
Teasing is a basically making fun of someone or being really mean to them, but does not involve fear, harm or threats. For example, Joey doesn’t want Andrew to sit by him, so he tells everyone he smells bad. Alex isn’t a very good athlete, and nobody wants him on their P.E. team, so when he is picked last, everyone laughs at him. Everyone will be teased for something during their childhood, and, while I certainly don’t condone it, to some extent it is normal. Teasing is mean, and kids should be taught that it is not okay to tease.
Bullying, on the other hand, is more serious. Bullying is scary and a way for the bully to try to make themselves feel more powerful than the victim. Kids who are bullied are afraid to go to school or leave their homes. They get physically ill with fear, are unable to perform academically, and sometimes even commit suicide. Bullying is VERY serious and should NEVER be tolerated.
Here’s the big catch…kids who start out teasing, and who get away with it and face no harsh consequences for their behavior, often end up becoming bullies. Some do it to gain popularity; others find that putting others down makes them feel better about themselves. The power and control they feel is appealing. But, there is a problem here. Guess what else is rooted in power and control? Domestic violence, rape, and child abuse are all about the perpetrator feeling power and control.
When teasing escalates to true bullying, then absolutely 100% you must do anything and everything to protect yourself from being bullied. Call parents, the school, the superintendent, the police, and anyone else you can think of. Bullying is very serious and can lead to physical harm and even death. Do not wait to ‘see how it pans out’. This is the time to be vocal and protective.
If you are a bully, fix it. Bullying behaviors are equal to criminal acts, so if you don’t fix this, you will become a criminal. Do not laugh about it, do not minimize it, do not make excuses. Seek professional help.
So, with all of that said, here are some guideline for dealing with teasing and bullying:
IF YOU ARE BEING TEASED:
- Stand up for yourself
- Talk to the teacher and/or the principal
- Have your parents talk to the other kids’ parents and ask for help
IF YOU ARE TEASING SOMEONE:
- It is unacceptable behavior
- Apologize in a meaningful way
- Promise it will stop
IF YOU ARE BEING BULLIED:
- DO NOT IGNORE IT OR WAIT TO TAKE ACTION
- Call the principal of the school, or even the superintendent
- If you feel your are in danger, or actual threats have been made, call the police
- Demand action
IF YOU ARE BULLYING SOMEONE:
- DO ANYTHING AND EVERYTHING TO MAKE IT STOP
- Do not minimize the seriousness of this or make excuses
- This behavior is not acceptable
- Seek professional help
- Volunteer somewhere that helps people – Appropriate ones are disabled children or women’s domestic violence shelters
- Know the impact bullying has on victims, and teach that you will end up in jail if you continue to behave this way