Whether on the grammar school playground or in the highest corporate office, bullying is a strategy to gain control or power at the expense of others. Name-calling, threats, physical attacks and property damage, or using peer pressure can all be forms of bullying. It is often up to the victim and those around them to stop bullying. In the schoolyard, parents, teachers and other children can help stop bullying, while adults must rely on friends, co-workers, and bosses to end destructive bullying trends.
Some people find it difficult to distinguish bullying from teasing or joking. Often, a bully can dish out criticism and personal attacks, but can't take it. Teasing and joking occurs among equals and is equally given and accepted; a bully, since he or she is trying to exert control, will usually not be able to take the same level of treatment in return.
In order to stop bullying, a victim must first make his feelings known. For many, children and adult, this is a difficult task. In social settings, people want to be seen as cool and tough, and do not want to appear whiny or babyish. Telling a bully that his or her actions are hurtful and not fun may be difficult, but it is a good way to determine a real bully from a joker who takes things to far. Someone who is not a bully will likely sincerely apologize and stop his or her behavior when confronted with an honest, straight-forward complaint.
If, on the other hand, a person responds to the complaint with jeers, insults, or increased bullying, a victim can now rest assured that he is dealing with a real bully and should feel more comfortable seeking help to stop bullying behavior. If a person has confronted his or her bully to no avail, speaking to authority figures is no longer tattling, but reporting inappropriate behavior. If a teacher or boss will not respond to complaints, go to an even higher level authority. Schools and businesses almost always have a code of conduct to which they are legally responsible; if no action is taken after repeated attempts are made to inform authorities, a victim has a perfect right to take legal action.
It is easy to think of bullies as evil people, but in fact they are often deeply insecure. To stop bullying behavior, it is important for the bully's friends and families to get to the root of the problem. Many bullies are victims of bullying themselves, from parents and older siblings. In order to truly stop bullying, the need to exert power and control through cruelty must be addressed and discussed with the bully. Parents, teachers, and school counselors have a responsibility not only to stop the behavior but to help the bully find more constructive ways of behaving.