Is bullying an actual problem or just a part of growing up?


November 13, 2015 by Cláudia

The world is cruel, kids are mean. It is normal to deal with bullying, it is part of growing up. It makes people strong. Kids today are so over protected because of the invention of this new concept of bullying. Kids need to get on fights and get slapped. 

Bullying is unwanted, aggressive behavior among school aged children that involves a real or perceived power imbalance. The behavior is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Both kids who are bullied and who bully others may have serious, lasting problems. 

Life is a fight, but not everyone’s a fighter. Otherwise, bullies would be an endangered species. Andrew Vachss

We are in the era of information and of freedom of expression. Everyone is entitled an opinion and therefore everyone definitely has one. About everything. Some subjects are more emotional to some of us, you are more informed, maybe have had experiences related to them. But some things you have never thought about and it is easy to lightheartedly express a swiftly formed opinion. I think people in general have a tendency to only be compassionate towards a subject if he/she, or someone the person cares about, has been deeply affected by it. You can see this with easy things, for example it is very unlikely that a religious person will diss their own beliefs, but also his/her atheist best friend will probably defend them, when many other atheists would disregard religion as being stupid etc etc.

Bullying is one of those subjects that is emotional to me, so I got somewhat offended/sad when this question came up because it just shows such ignorance of what bullying means. And I don’t mean ignorance in a bad intentioned way, what I mean is that no one who has experienced it would pose that question.

First of all, I think it is crucial to tackle the concept because I think this is a major ground for misconceptions. Bullying is damaging. It is normal that someone dislikes you and shows it, for example by making mean comments occasionally. That’s part of growing up: accepting that not everybody’s going to like you and being able to let go of negative remarks. This is hard enough. It is human nature to want to please everyone and to feel broken if someone doesn’t like you, specially if you have not given them a reason to. I think a big part of growing up is to stop letting other people define what you can or cannot do or who you can or cannot be. That’s up to you to decide.

Bullying is a totally different phenomenon. Bullying is not punching someone or making fun of someone: that’s violence. Bullying is a much more twisted intentionally organized damaging experience. I want to highlight that this perspective is being made through the victim’s point of you, and that I recognize that bullies are people who are also damaged in many ways. That is not being dismissed. I don’t intend to make moralistic remarks about how bullies are evil, I only mean to share a bit of my experience, the consequences, and what I, years later, have retained of it.

Bullying is feeling like you’re the target of a conspiracy to harm your life. Like you can’t walk anywhere without being spotted. Like you have something really different from everyone else to make you a target of so much hate and repulsion. Like you are weak because you are “letting” people abuse you. This is an important point to take in consideration because some of the general opinion is that if you are strong then you won’t be bullied and that continuing to be bullied is somehow a sign of weakness. This idea contributes to the shame and the feeling weak. I used to be so embarrassed. Maybe if I was stronger, that wouldn’t have happened, but what I failed to understand was that I wasn’t supposed to be strong at such young age, no one is. Being immune to this doesn’t mean strength, it means putting up walls and shutting away feelings.

Bullying is damaging because it is perceived as being something normal by the ones who suffer it. I never realized I was being bullied until many years later. I thought I was just hated for being an “abortion”, a “goat” or a “monkey”. I never understood “why me?” and that was one of the things that messed with my head most. Why me?

Anxiety. These girls had complete control over me. I was at their mercy. They cornered me and hit me and called me names. They embarrassed me in front of my friends by showing that I was powerless, with no shred of dignity or strength. I talked about it with no one. It was enough the humiliation I was being put through. I started to have panic attacks foreseeing what new ways they would torment me. It was like a gas slowly consuming all the breathable air around. I felt imprisoned. No way out. Forever in a world of torment.

It was never ending.

Never ending.

Today, I am very scared of people. I have really terrible social anxiety. I know that people are able to damage you for life. I know I am not “strong enough” to not break (is anyone?). I don’t know what I would do if that happened today and that’s what scares me the most, knowing that I am breakable. I am damaged by those times. It is damaging in so many ways possible.

The first reaction I had when the question was put was “Is that a real question?” then cry, then close up and having discussions in my head. It is a bit like depression, really. It is a real thing but as many people can’t see it or touch it they think it is a problem of weakness or not trying hard enough.

This is definitely the most incomplete post I’ve made, there are still millions to be said. I have only recently recognized this part of my past. I’ve only recently started dealing with it.

I wish it was seen like an actual problem back then, it would have changed a lot. I wished I was protected by friends, but everyone was scared to protect me. I wish I wasn’t so damaged.

4 thoughts on “Is bullying an actual problem or just a part of growing up?

  1. swabby429 says:

    It’s a matter of degree and frequency of threats. I grew up in the 1960s and was the scapegoat or target for the class toughs. I know most of the other pupils were not bullied. In fact, the bullies belonged to the “A” list cliques. The worst incident took place after a springtime school day. One of the bullies drove his car with three of his friends. They heaved a large chunk of concrete at my best friend and me. It missed my pal’s head by a couple of inches.

    There’s teasing and harrassment and then there’s physical violence and attempted mayhem and murder. The difference is very real.

    Liked by 2 people

  2. anavingada says:

    Thank you! And yes, it is true all about it. I know what you feel. Try to deal with it, what that people did to you doesn’t define you.


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