Studies show being bullied as a child can cause depression in adults — I can attest to this statement. I was bullied as a child in elementary school and all the way through middle school (we called it Jr. High). Thinking back today on those times and a cringe.
A frightening concern is that bullies today have even more tools in their arsenal. With the advent of Social Media, bullies can now inflict harm on others from the relative safety of their homes. And in many cases, with complete anonymity. In a study published by the Joint Research Center, nearly 50% of children surveyed said they had been cyberbullied during the COVID-19 Pandemic. Think about that and let it set in. One in two kids reported they were cyberbullied in just the past few years. I cannot imagine how much worse things would have been if social media had existed when I was a child being bullied.
We often overlook the obvious signs of bullying so, in this week’s musing, I want to share some of my experiences.
Anyone Can Be Bully
So what is a bully? From dictionary.com a bully is a blustering, mean, or predatory person who, from a perceived position of relative power, intimidates, abuses, harasses, or coerces people, especially those considered unlikely to defend themselves:
- playground bullies targeting children with disabilities;
- a workplace bully who cuts me off when I speak.
So can anyone be a bully? Yes, and I know this is a very bold statement but sometimes the truth hurts. Being a bully is all about power. When a bully sees someone whom they perceive to be weaker or in a lower class, the power they seek can quickly become a reality.
So again, can anyone be a bully? Think about this. Here are just two examples.
- Have you uttered a snide remark about the appearance of someone?
- Have you ever spoken ill words about the way someone dresses?
If yes, you are guilty of being a bully.
Is there such as thing as Bully-Victims?
Called the Bully-Victims syndrome, it is not uncommon for the bullied person to seek out revenge as a way of coping. And sadly, as someone who was bullied, I too have bullied others.
A Bully-Victim will seek retribution by attacking someone whom they perceive as weaker. The mental high the person receives from being a bully can restore at least some feelings of being in control. In essence, the Bully-Victim seeks to wield what little power they have remaining as a way to recover the lost self-respect in their own lives.
Parents today likely cannot fathom the thought that their bullied child would seek such retribution, but it is true. Though I am not a parent, I do ask parents to check on their kids often. Instill in them that no matter what happens, they can always confide in you. And when they do come to you for help — trust me, they will — remember these words: “do as you say”. So if you have told your child to be open and to talk about anything which is bothering them, then, by all means, do not get upset with them. Listen to them. Talk to them with a calm voice.
Finally, regular mental health checkups should also be considered if you suspect anything is amiss.
Let’s Face It! Some Bullies are Ignorant of their Bullying
As a young child, I typically had more than one bully at any given time. And their mission was to torment me daily. Given my numerous tics like studdering and flicking my ear, I was an easy target. My classmates saw me as this quirky kid who was just different than them. However, I firmly believe now that many of my tormentors were oblivious to the pain they were causing.
Occurring over thirty-four years ago, one such event is still very vivid in my mind. There were these two girls in my Jr. High English class who would snicker and make snide remarks about my ear-flicking tic. The comments were very disheartening. Those words hurt and still stick with me today.
There is no need to name names here however I fully believe that today, these two women are none the wiser of the torment they caused me thirty-four years ago.
Thank you again for following along in my journey to better mental health.
I will leave you with this. The culture thirty-four years ago was vastly different than today, however words then and now do still have meaning. The old adage of sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me is very far from the truth. Words hurt. Trust me.
My name is Jack and I battle daily with depression.
If you made it this far, please consider commenting below, subscribing, and also sharing on your social media sites. Most importantly, I ask for your prayers. I write this weekly blog as an outlet in my fight against depression. However, my hope is that something I write here may help others who may be struggling. If you would like to help with my battle against depression, check out my online Etsy store and affiliate links. Most proceeds are donated to the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention.
If you or someone you know may be contemplating suicide, call the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255 or by dialing 988. You may also text HOME to 741741 to reach the Crisis Text Line. In emergencies, call 911, or seek care from a local hospital or mental health provider.