Emily Wyckoff

The girl who cried “bully.” Bullying: overused term or more frequent today?

To answer my own question, I definitely think the term “bullying” is thrown around indiscriminately these days. Examples? A child crying bully when their 4th grade classmate decides to not be their friend anymore. Bullying? I think typical behavior for ten year olds. I tell my kids if someone doesn’t want to be their friend, it’s the other kid’s loss – find someone nice to hang out with. Bullying is so overused as a term that when I reprimanded my daughter the other day, she accused me of “bullying” her. The term has become a catchall for any unwelcome behavior or conflict.

By no means am I downplaying the existence of bullying – it has been happening for years, but didn’t have a specific term, or a term popularized like it is today. It was just mean kids intimidating other kids. Typical social jockeying that goes on while growing up, often in school, wasn’t labeled “bullying.” Kids are a mean bunch, and school can be rough. I try and teach my kids how to deal with unpleasant, and sometimes downright ugly, social situations without crying “bully” – unless or until absolutely necessary. It’s definitely part of life. I try and direct them to pick good friends, avoid trouble, and stand up for kids who are picked on if necessary. It has worked for our kids so far.

When I look back on my Catholic grade school experience in the 80′s, it definitely had its ups and downs, and bullying, by today’s definition. I was both bullied (in 5th grade when all the boys in the class called me “SUB” for “stuck-up brat” for the entire year – kids are so mean) and the bully (6th and 7th grade when I was absolutely abominable, “turning” girls against other girls and other mean girl behavior). My parents were not aware of any of this until my 7th grade teacher called them in and we had a come to Jesus meeting. I think this changed the course of my life, as after this revelation, I lost most of my friends, went from popular to unpopular, became friends with really nice girls I had never taken the time to get to know, and from that time on stayed away from cliques and focused on individual friendships.

One of the most important gifts parents can give their kids is to teach and guide them to deal with tough situations, and to let them feel some disappointment. It’s part of life, and makes you stronger, even if one of the hardest things in the world is to see your kids suffer. Social media makes it even easier for kids to hurt each other now, but it’s another part of navigating relationships.

What do you think parents? Is the term bullying overused or is it more prevalent now? What advice do you give your kids?

7 Responses to “The girl who cried “bully.” Bullying: overused term or more frequent today?”

  1. The term may be overused-I see my daughter calling another girl a bully who I think is just bossy, but I think the crime of real bullying is very real and scary, especially with social media. That’s providing a much more non-confrontational format for people to be mean and to reach masses quickly, which is a far cry from the kid in the playground who makes fun of your hair.

  2. Plan B Mom says:

    I totally agree. Texting, FB, Instagram, and other stuff I probably don’t even know about make it way too easy for kids to be mean to each other. I think I have scared my kids too much on this topic – my girls (5th and 7th grade) don’t engage in any of it. Now I am worried I am stunting them socially. You can’t win!

  3. Kathryn says:

    Plan B Mom: You are not stunting your girls socially as a 19 year college student who never got any social media stuff until earlier this year. It really does cause more trouble than it’s worth. And as a student who was bullied throughout school, I don’t think the term is that much overused it just known.

  4. Amber says:

    I myself do not think the word is used enough! Someone I know just lost a child to suicide and the parents knew nothing about what was going on because the child was too afraid to say the word bully! If a child is truly being bullied it is hard for them to say anything to anyone. A parent should look at the signs because that word will not be spoken…..

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  6. rjlawrencejr says:

    Without question the term “bullying” is overused. This is not to excuse rude or mean behavior, but simply to say that bullying might not necessarily be the correct term. Instead it has become the catch all phrase popularized by mass media. But just because someone engages in bad behavior doesn’t make them a bully – they’re simply a bad person.

    A dictionary definition of bully reads as follows:

    Use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.

    While some are doing just that, in many other cases that bad behavior manifests itself in the form of activities such as taunting or making fun, or gossiping. I do think the kid who makes fun of another because he or she doesn’t play sports well or can’t read or wears glasses is being bullied, they’re being made fun of because they’re different and I think almost all of us have been on both sides, but I am sure in most cases there was no intimidation being pursued, we were simply laughing at a classmate or being laughed at. And if we were the brunt of those jokes, of course it might have hurt, but were we bullied?

    Again, I’m not excusing bad behavior, I simply want to make sure we haven’t cheapened the term by throwing any type unwanted behavior under the bully umbrella. That’s why the thesaurus was invented.

  7. yanessa says:

    I wouldnt even think the girl who doesnt want to be your daughters friend is mean either you’re not besties with everyone you meet why should the rule apply to her? I think its overrated yes there is real bullying, but also I believe mostly adolescents need to develop thick skin nowadays someone calls you ugly its crying to the bathroom and suicidal thoughts. Its all about self image come on this is why I think things like this happen we try to prevent anything about self awareness we make it such a huge dilemma. Also cyberbullying I think is overrated as well there are many ways to counter it example: Making accounts private, blocking people, seeing what is appropriate to post, and just not having an account at all if its such a huge issue. Most adolescents are doing “bullying” through all the social media I also blame the parents I am not one for being all up in your teens private accounts. I dont like when parents let their teens go off doing something ridiculous if your teen is a late bloomer and doesnt care how she/he looks of course they will get taunted! Make sure your teens are developing well with the other peers. Again thick skin is key.

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