Understanding the Law
June 8, 2018

Bullying is a practice that is affecting modern day societies in some negative ways. It may result in matters that may or may not reach the court. In either case, it can cause pain and discomfort, leading to stress for the victim.

Bullying must be stamped out, because it is harmful, painful and stressful. “Stress can directly increase heart rate and blood flow and cause the release of cholesterol and triglycerides. … Doctors tell us that sudden emotional stress can trigger heart attacks.”

What is bulling?

Online dictionary describes bullying, as use of superior strength to influence someone, typically to force a person to do what one wants.

Stopbulling.gov describes bullying as unwanted aggressive behaviour among school-aged children, that involve a real or perceived power imbalance. The behaviour is repeated, or has the potential to be repeated, over time. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Bullying, however, is not confined to school children and could occur in other settings among adults in group situations, in organizations, in the home, in communities at large and in cyberspace.

It was after a spate of suicides that people began to recognize bullying for what it is and what it could do. There is increasing evidence that the Internet and social media can influence suicide-related behaviour. (ncbi.nim.nih.gov)

We live in a competitive world and strong willed persons may become aggressive in order to get ahead at the expense of others and causing the victim to feel inferior. The victim could opt out of that particular field in order to avoid conflict. In the long run, society may stand to lose when persons of talent decide that he does not want to remain in a potentially explosive situation. Bullying should be recognized early and nipped in the bud. It should not be allowed to fester.

Types of bullying

There are different types of bullying. The common ones are physical bullying, including hitting, shoving, pushing, tripping and damaging property, (2) verbal bullying involves hurtful comments, peddling insults, name calling, teasing, shouting at others in a manner that is offensive and talking about the person in a negative way so as to discredit and denigrate him or her. Bullying could be quite open where the bully wants to shame the person in the presence of others, or it could be subtle. It could also be in the form of spreading hateful rumours.

It is time for us to prevent others from being the victim of bullying. We should not encourage or participate in any action or behaviour that is likely to bring public shame on a person. We must speak out against bullying, and not engage in negative behaviour towards others. If someone has done something wrong we can speak in low tones and explain to that person what wrong he has done.

There is no need for public shaming. Try to get the person to apologize where possible. We cannot stop people from talking about things that actually happened, it might just be newsworthy, but do not spread vicious rumours and lies about others. Polite society expects you to be reasonable. Remember the golden rule. “Do unto others, as you would have them do unto you.” There is a world of stress that comes with our jobs and everyday life; we need not pile on unnecessary stress. “Soft words turn away wrath’. To the bully, sometimes you have to humble yourself for a greater good and for a peaceful life.

Ada Johnson is a solicitor and barrister-at-law. E-mail address is: exploringthelaw@yahoo.com