What is physical bullying? What can be done to stop it by parents, the community, teachers, and neighbors? Physical bullying is when one person or a group of people picks on or harasses another person in a face to face confrontational manner. It can be subtle actions to casually degrade the person over time, or it can be a series of more aggressive and direct acts to purposefully hurt the person in a more immediate fashion. Physical bullying can also sometimes be sexual in nature, as its psychological roots are based in the desire to dominant and control to make the perpetrator feel more powerful.
But what is physical bullying exactly? What behavior does it entail?
Physical bullying can include harassment like name calling or stalking behaviors, and more violent abuses like hitting or intimidating. Sometimes groups of young adults will target and alienate a peer because of some adolescent prejudice. This can quickly lead to a situation where they are being taunted, tortured, and beat up from their fellow class mates. Physical Bullying can end tragically and therefore must be stopped immediately.
How Can I tell if someone is getting bullied?
There are some tell tale signs that someone is being bullied. It is important to know what these signs are so that you can beware if someone is a victim of physical bullying. In children and young adults you may notice a withdrawn and sad silence that surrounds them. If a child doesn’t want to go somewhere like school, after school programs, a walk home by themselves, the bus ride home, or a friend’s house it is important to inquire about their feelings surrounding the matter. After all, there is no better way to find something out than to ask.
Beware though, whether it be a child or an older person, it is oftentimes hard for a victim of physical abuse to talk about what they are going through for a number of reasons. Sometimes there are afraid of getting in even more trouble than they are already in. Sometimes the victim blames himself in a convoluted attempt to make sense of the abuse. Sometimes bullies threaten their victims with worse abuses if they were to call the police or tell someone that could help them. In these ways victims of physical bullying learn to stay silent about their plight and accept their fate. This can result in severe trust and self esteem issues later on in other relationships.
Who is at risk for physical bullying?
Bullying often refers to interactions between children, but physical bullying can really happen to anyone. No one is safe. Adults, young children, young adults, and the elderly are all at risk. No matter how young or old someone is there is always a chance that someone could harass or abuse them. Often times in children, bullying happens away from home, but physical bullying can also take place in the home. School and afterschool programs are also danger zones.
Why do people feel the urge to bully?
Its roots are mainly violent, but some people who dominate others have underlying emotion issues urging them to control others. This is an indirect way to make them feel better. By degrading the victim with verbal and physical abuse, they somehow ease their own pain, though temporarily and superficially. They elevate their own ego through the degradation of others. This domineering and sometimes sadist seeming behavior seems to be genetically predisposed, but ultimately develops from harsh parenting styles.
What does modern psychology say?
Phillip Zimbardo is a famous psychiatrist who is well known for his revolutionary social experiment, the Stanford Prison Experiment. He says that domineering and controlling abusive behavior can be acted out by absolutely anyone. In the experiment college age test subjects volunteered to live in a make-shift prison, some as prisoners, some as guards. The test subjects were given mental assessments to make sure they were mentally stable. Things went terribly wrong 6 days into the experiment.
It ended much earlier than its intended date because one of the therapists feared for the safety of the test subjects. Guards were depriving prisoners of food and water, and they were subjecting the prisoners to humiliating acts of domination and physical bullying.
This experiment is famous because it suggests some revolutionary ideas. First that institutions are hot spots for human rights abuses by their very nature of putting one group of people above the other. Secondly, this experiment says something profound about human consciousness. When normal friendly people are put into environments where one party is in control of another party, abuses are almost inevitable. Normal people become ‘evil.’
A school is no prison, but this dynamic should be taken into consideration when attempting to search for blame. Meaning, it’s not the bullies’ fault. They are victims of a very real phenomenon brought about by the very environment of school. That is why often times the quiet smart kids are picked on more, simply because they are an easy target. With proper counseling bullies can recover.