Bullying For Adults: What Can We Learn?

Child sitting on floor away from laptop due to cyber bullying.
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Well another day over and another day closer to going on holiday! Can’t wait! Finished packing today only to find I’m over the baggage limit so at least I know there’s one thing I need to do in the morning. That pretty much took up most of my day really so at 4 I settled down to watch an episode of Orange is the New Black – season 1 episode 9 to be exact. Still only half way through it but what struck me in the first half hour was when we saw the bullying of young Alex by the girls in school for what she’s wearing.

Originally published June 2014. Updated May 2021

Everyone sees bullies on TV and they’re always portrayed the same way – the popular rich kids picking on someone less fortunate and always in a group. Bullying is something we’re constantly warned about all the way through our school career and it’s always very clear how to deal with it.

Anti-Bullying 101: A Quick Guide on How to End, Overcome, and Rise Above Bullying [aff]

But what about when you leave school? Do bullies and their torment end there? Unfortunately not. People will always try and make you feel inferior, no matter what age you are or where you’re based. Almost half of all children and young people (46%) say that they’ve been bullied at some point during their time at school, according to the Tellus4 National Report, carried out in 2009. Reading through www.bullyonline.org I began to realise how uncommon it is for adults to talk about their experiences. Do we just assume we deserve the treatment?

diverse male teenagers bullying anonymous lady covering face with hands

Having always been big for my age, I did experience a bit of bullying. But the worst of it came when I was 16 and had my first (and last) boyfriend – haha that’s an experience for another time! My friends all turned their backs on me and one, she thinks I don’t know it was her but it obviously was, started to spread malicious rumours about me to the point where I started to consider not going back to school. I can’t fully remember how it ended but the main thing was my best friend came back to me and we have been closer ever since.

Looking back on it now, I suppose you could argue that anything now a days is counted as someone being bullied – going by the definition given on most websites I’ve been bullied by my own mother for years. So don’t always believe that everything is bullying. But it is important to call it out when you can.

Bullying for Kids

As we were saying, for kids, bullies and their actions are simplified. The torment of bullies is so prevalent in schools, that the teachers need to focus on stomping it out as soon as possible. By law, all schools must have measures in place to prevent this behaviour and teachers, pupils and parents should be told what that policy is. A schools involvement in tackling such actions should not start at the point at which a child or student has been bullied. Most good schools, or ones that are deemed good at handling bullies for kids, will work hard to prevent bullying within schools from happening, rather than dealing with the aftermath.

girl showing a message written in a notebook about bullying for kids

Persistently picking on someone, name-calling, and always the physical side of bullying. You ask children what counts, and bullying for kids is nearly always described as being mean to someone for no reason. But as your child ages, they begin to learn there is more to bullying than the straightforward ways described by teachers. Rumours can start – the saying nasty things that just aren’t true. Then comes the being left out. And unfortunately there are still to many children experiencing bullying.

Colour Me! – Anti Bullying Colouring Book: An Interesting Book That Helps Your Kids Raise Awareness About Bullying [aff]

What is even more concerning is bullying for kids is now extending into the world of the internet. Without wanting to sound like a granny, in my day we weren’t on the internet as much. In fact, I was finally allowed an email account at the age of 11 because my best friend was moving to the other side of the world and I needed to be able to stay in touch with her. But we’re getting side-tracked. Cyberbullying for kids is an increasingly alarming topic for many parents. And unfortunately it just gets worse with age.

Bullying for Adults

This still seems a taboo topic to talk about, and yet it’s one of the most important things that we need to discuss. You would think that, as people mature and progress through life, adults would stop behaviours of their youth. Sadly, adults can be bullies, just as children and teenagers can be bullies. While adults are more likely to use verbal bullying as opposed to physical bullying, the fact of the matter is that adult bullying exists. Bulling for adults can take place in the workplace and can make life quite miserable and difficult. If you are in this position, you should ensure a manager or supervisor is aware of adult bullies, since they can disrupt productivity, create a hostile work environment (opening the company to the risk of a law suit) and reduce morale. However, as we all know, that’s easier said than done.

Another aspect of bullying for adults is that it isn’t always within the workplace. Toxic friendships exist in your adult life as much as they can in childhood, and family can also be bullies. Sometimes a single family member bullies all other family members. It can be a spouse that acts as a bully, and often this comes under the umbrella bracket of domestic abuse. There are even stories of children bullying their parents or guardians, a situation that I am aware of with some acquaintances. Family bullying is just as harmful – possibly more so – than any other type of bullying for adults.

angry man squeezing shoulder of woman during conflict depicting domestic violence as bullying for adults

We briefly touched on toxic friendships, but it is possible that not all your friends are a good influence on your life. It’s possible that you depend on someone that treats you poorly, talking down to you often and taking advantage of your friendship. If you have a friend that is consistently bossing you around, or treating you without respect, they may also be a bully.

It’s possible to be bullied by any adult in your life regardless of your age, and that bullying can have many of the same effects as childhood bullying. While it is unlikely that you are going to develop behavioural disorders associated with bullying for kids, there are still countless potential long term consequences to this type of treatment. Bullying may harm your self-confidence, providing you with stress both mentally and physically. In some cases of bullying for adults this develops into anxiety and depression. As an adult your happiness is important. In fact, your happiness is paramount regardless of your age.

Bullying in a Cyber World Posters: Upper [aff]

The main thing to remember is that no matter who you are or what you’re going through, there will always be someone who is able to help you through it. And if that person isn’t someone nearby, I’m always here. Life can be hard enough for anyone, without the added attrition of a bully in their life. If at any stage you find either you are struggling or need help with your mental health for any reason at all, there are places you can seek help.

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