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Bullies are people who enjoy picking on a single person who is smaller or weaker than them, or the opposite way around. They can be this way because it makes them feel better. Another reason for this behaviour may be a bully's abusive family. They come in all shapes and forms, from preschool to school, to high school throughout adult life.
Origin of the word "Bully"
The word "bully" was first used in the 1530s meaning "sweetheart" at the time, applied to either sex, from the Dutch boel "lover, brother", probably diminutive of Middle High German buole "brother", of uncertain origin (compare with the German buhle "lover"). The meaning deteriorated through the 17th century through "fine fellow", "blusterer", to "harasser of the weak". This may have been as a connecting sense between "lover" and "ruffian" as in "protector of a prostitute", which was one sense of "bully" (though not specifically attested until 1706). The verb "to bully" was first attested in 1710.
High-level forms of violence such as assault and murder usually receive most media attention, but lower-level forms of violence such as bullying have only by the 2000s started to be addressed by researchers, parents and guardians as well as authority figures. It is only in recent years that bullying has been recognised and recorded as a separate and distinct offense, but there have been well documented cases that have been recorded over the centuries. Virginia Woolf considered fascism to be a form of bullying, and wrote of Hitler and the Nazis in 1934 as "these brutal bullies".
In the 2000s and 2010s, a cultural movement against bullying gained popularity in the English-speaking world. The first National Bullying Prevention Week was conceived of in Canada in 2000 by Canadian educator and anti-bullying activist Bill Belsey. The charity Act Against Bullying was formed in the UK in 2003. In 2006, National Bullying Prevention Month was declared in the United States. The Suicide of Phoebe Prince in 2010 brought attention to the issue in Massachusetts, and sparked reforms in state education. The It Gets Better Project was started in 2010 to combat gay teen suicides, and Lady Gaga announced the Born This Way Foundation in partnership with Harvard's Berkman Center for Internet & Society in 2011.
A 2012 paper from the Berkman Center, "An Overview of State Anti-Bullying Legislation and Other Related Laws," notes that, as of January 2012, 48 U.S. states had anti-bullying laws, though there is wide variation in their strength and focus. Sixteen states acknowledge that bullies often select their targets based on "creed or religion, disability, gender or sex, nationality or national origin, race, and sexual orientation." Each of the 16 employs a wide array of additional parameters, the paper notes, ranging from age and weight to socioeconomic status. Of the 38 states that have laws encompassing electronic or "cyberbullying" activity, 32 put such offenses under the broader category of bullying and six states define this type of offense separately, the authors report.
Bullying (in general)
Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying behavior may include name calling, verbal or written abuse, exclusion from activities, exclusion from social situations, physical abuse, or coercion. According to the U.S. National Center for Education Statistics (2007), approximately 32% of U.S. school children reported being bullied at school; nearly 4% reported being cyber-bullied. The Center suggests (2001) that bullying can be classified into two categories:
- Direct bullying
- Indirect bullying (which is also known as social aggression)
Ross states that direct bullying involves a great deal of physical aggression, such as shoving and poking, throwing things, slapping, choking, punching and kicking, beating, stabbing, pulling hair, scratching, biting, scraping, and pinching.
He also suggests that social aggression or indirect bullying is characterized by attempting to socially isolate the target. This isolation is achieved through a wide variety of techniques, including spreading gossip, refusing to socialize with the target, bullying other people who wish to socialize with the target, and criticizing the target's manner of dress and other socially-significant markers (including the target's race, religion, disability, sex, or sexual preference, etc.). Ross outlines an array of nonviolent behavior which can be considered "indirect bullying", at least in some instances, such as name calling, the silent treatment, arguing ot
hers into submission, manipulation, lies, rumors, false rumors, staring, giggling, laughing at the target, saying certain words that trigger a reaction from a past event, and mocking. The UK based children's charity, Act Against Bullying, was set up in 2003 to help children who were targets of this type of bullying by researching and publishing coping skills. It has been noted that there tend to be differences in how bullying manifests itself between the sexes. Males tend to be more likely to be physically aggressive whereas females tend to favour exclusion and mockery, though it has been noticed that females are becoming more physical in their bullying. There can be a tendency in both sexes to opt for exclusion and mockery rather than physical aggression when the target is perceived to be too strong to attack without risk, or the use of violence would otherwise cause problems for the bullies such as criminal liability, or the bullies see physical aggression as immature (particularly when bullying occurs among adults).
Gay and lesbian youth are more likely to report bullying and may suffer more bullying and more negative effects.
Types of bullies
Cyberbullies use computers, phones, chatrooms and other forms of electronic communication to harass a victim, also recording the victim on webcam or video. Often, the bullying victim will commit suicide.