When bullying isn't really bullying at all

There are times when we should just harden up and get on with it.

I do not for one moment condone bullying. It is wrong and should not be tolerated. In its worst form it has severe emotional and physical effect and leaves scars that can last forever. But this is not always the case because nowadays it seems that the term is applied to even the slightest bit of criticism.

I was having a beer with a mate a couple of days ago and he told me about an incident he had been involved in at work. It seems that a male work colleague was claiming that he had been bullied in the workplace and as a result the entire staff had been interviewed. According to my mate the entire issue was a beat up and in his opinion the bloke in question had not been bullied. He had merely been told that “if you don’t pull your finger out and start showing a bit of interest you will find yourself looking for another job”. Apparently this bloke was given every chance and as much support as was possible to become part of the team. Now, my mate is not one to unfairly treat a fellow worker and I would trust his word as gospel. So when he told me that the bloke claiming to have been bullied constantly refused to do whatever was required as part of the team by using the excuse that it was not part of his job, you can take it as dinkum that is exactly what happened.

I also know that my mate is a very astute judge of character and his assessment of the bloke in question left little doubt in my mind that here we had a person who had been spoon fed all his life. One who had been bought up with the attitude that the world owed him something and would look for any chance to blame others. A person without the ability to take criticism or advice on board, preferring instead to cry foul. Anyway my mate was quiet concerned that this bloke’s laziness and refusal to work as part of a team had caused a bit of strife in the ranks. It seems that other workers were carrying the extra work load and naturally a bit of name calling and tongue in cheek comment had been made about this bloke’s attitude. Definitely not bullying but more akin to workplace banter and high jinx. Yet this bloke’s inability to wake up to himself, change his attitude and man up had caused him to falsely claim that he was being bullied.

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This got me thinking about how things have changed and why it is that incidents of so called bullying are becoming more common. When I was a child at school teasing and picking on others was common place and I doubt there is anyone around my age who can say that they did not tease or pick on someone during their school years or that they never experienced being teased or picked on. It was and still is a part of school yard life. It was not a pleasant experience to be teased or picked on but we learnt from it and discovered that sometimes things get tough.

In more recent times I see a very different school yard and the children that fill that yard are the product of a society that has gone soft. Parents tend to wrap their child in cottonwool and shield completely from anything that may cause stress or emotional pain. Instead of teaching their child how to deal with the realities of life they cry foul and shift the blame by openly complaining and demanding that action be taken. I see many parents placing their children on a pedestal with the belief that they have to be totally protected from any form of emotional or indeed physical pain. In so doing they create a false sense of security and an attitude within that child that life is always going to be easy.

Perhaps a misguided perception of bullying has evolved over the years and that is why school yard teasing is now seen as bullying. Depending upon how we were bought up, what we experienced and what we were taught as children seems to have a bearing on how we perceive bullying and how we see it in modern society.

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There are many definitions of the word bully and many forms of bullying. To me it is deliberate constant emotional or physical harassment and abuse delivered in such a way that it does harm to another person. Those that have a knee jerk reaction to what is no more than school yard teasing or work place banter should think before they accuse someone of bullying.


What do you think? What constitutes bullying? Tell us below.