Bullying is defined as aggressive behavior resulting from a perceived power imbalance, with the person who considers themselves more powerful misusing that power to belittle and demean the less powerful. In order to be considered “real” bullying, however, the behavior must happen more than once or have the potential to occur more than once. In a schoolyard, the best way to respond to this is to take away the person’s perceived power. That’s why everyone encourages you to stand up to bullies. Unfortunately, in the grown-up world, that doesn’t work quite as well.
Kids bully because they like the feeling of power it gives them. A lot of them are bullied themselves, whether at home or at school or online, and bullying others is a way to reassert themselves as in control. Adults bully because they feel threatened. They’re scared someone’s going to come and take their power away. Often, the most skilled, attractive, friendly people are bullied the most, because they are the most threatening. Targets are ethical, honest, well-liked, skillful, and non-confrontational, being morally superior. Unfortunately, most bullies see that non-confrontational viewpoint as being passive and weak and giving them free rein to do their worst.
With workplace bullying, a worker’s boss or colleague intentionally sabotages and puts the person down. Paperwork might mysteriously go missing, and coworkers might refuse to speak to the person, out of fear or respect of the bully. People will feel free to yell or scream at them, but file harassment charges when they get fed up and yell back. Surprise meetings might be called that serve no purpose except to humiliate. A lot of this comes from the common workplace policy of competition. Employees are pitted against each other to do tasks, with only one winner. People attack each other to survive. Bullies are often hired over other applicants, because of their apparent ambition.
Teacher bullying is when a teacher or principal verbally abuses and humiliates students. Usually, it’s just one or two students being exclusively targeted, but there are cases where an entire class is being bullied. (To help you picture it, Professor Snape from the Harry Potter series was definitely a teacher bully.) Grades might be purposefully lowered for no reason, infractions may be made up or exaggerated, a teacher might scream at a student or pick on them and call them stupid. When the student complains, it’s usually brushed off by the teacher saying that the student is the problem. Often, a whole group of parents has to complain in order for anything to be done. (Gosh darn it, Dumbledore, just fire the man, you’ve had like ten years to realize he’s a bad teacher..)
Bullying has some very real consequences, even if it’s not physical. Verbal bullying, constant reminders of how worthless someone is, can result in suicide or self-harm. The target might be physically sick before they go to work or school, and get headaches or even develop serious medical problems because of stress. Grades will drop and work ethic will go through the floor, because of stress and fear and, in the case of teacher bullying, the miserable conviction that since you’re not going to be able to do anything right, why try at all? Self esteem will sink, and sometimes eating disorders are developed because of constant catcalls of “fatty”. It needs to be stopped.