One would think that as people mature and progress through life, that they would stop behaviors of their youth. Unfortunately, this is not always the case. Sadly, adults can be bullies, just as children and teenagers can be bullies. While adults are more likely to use verbal bullying and cyber bullying as opposed to physical bullying, the fact of the matter is that adult bullying exists. The goal of an adult bully is to gain power over another person, and make himself or herself the dominant adult. They try to humiliate victims, and “show them who is boss.”
Cyber bullying does not just apply to children. There are adult groups dedicated to harassing and defaming others as well, along with websites created online specifically to make fun of and demean individuals. These people can be found in communities linked to blogs and chat rooms and they use the disguise of “anonymity” to harass their prey. Sometimes, these bullies will take their online squabbles offline and press people online to harass their prey’s family and friends.
As an anti-bullying advocate and the founder of Strike Out Bullying, I can tell you that right now, adults are not being the role models that they need to be. I was bullied and I am an adult. I was bullied on Twitter but I am capable of reasoning where kids are not developed fully to understand that there are ways of dealing with things. One of the reason children do not want their parents involved is because parents way of dealing with things is to take away social media, computers, ipads, cell phones, etc then the children are socially isolated which only leads to more taunting in school. And then some parents spy on their kids, which makes the kid feel as if they are not trusted.
What needs to happen is that the federal government needs to get involved and demand that these social sites are better equipped to deactivate those accounts that are misused in this manner. Then they need to make a strict law that prohibits it.
The saying, “If you have nothing nice to say then don’t say it all” needs to be re-taught. Yes, we have freedom of speech, but we are abusing that privilege.
With all this talk about cyber bullying, a lot of people have asked me, what does social media bullying look like?
Here are some signs:
- Destroying and manipulating relationships (turning your friends against you)
- Destroying status within a peer group
- Destroying reputations
- Humiliation and embarrassment
- Gossiping, spreading nasty, malicious rumors and lies about someone
- Excluding someone from a group (social rejection or isolation)
- Stealing boyfriends or girlfriends to hurt someone.
And yes, adults do the following! Some girls on Twitter found out I asked this guy out and well, destroyed any chance of me actually going out with him. To add insult to injury the guy I asked out turned against me and joined in. So I think the main question is what are we teaching our kids?
We are teaching them that it is okay to mock, pick on and bully others via the Internet. We are teaching them that when we get jealous or when we don’t like someone it’s okay to spread malicious lies about people.
Bullying needs to stop!
In closing I think I need to remind people the following: You have the freedom to choose your actions, you don’t have the freedom to choose the consequences of your actions. If you bully others, there should be steep consequences for those actions. It doesn’t matter WHY people are bullied, the fact is they are and some felt hopeless. No one deserves to be bullied, mocked or picked on for any reason.
I will never understand people that feel they need to hurt others, so if you ever see someone that is clearly being bullied, step up for them, and be their hero. Potentially, you can save their life.