Harassment & Bullying

by Dandy

I have been very much disturbed lately over the suicide of Rutger’s University student, Tyler Clementi.  He was only 18 years old.  I can’t stop thinking about him and his family.  I can’t stop thinking about the pain he must have endured the days before his death.  He must have been in a terribly dark place.  Tyler’s roommates used a webcam to record an intimate moment between him and another man.  It was a horrific invasion of privacy.  He was the victim of two sick and twisted individuals.

In this post, I want to explain the difference between harassment and bullying, and what to do about it if it is happening to you, or if you see that someone is a victim.

Bullying is typically emotional or psychological.  It involves written and verbal communication.  Harassment has physical components such as unwanted touching, invading personal space, and damaging possessions.  Both are possible to stop, whether it be in the work place, school, or home.  Bullies typically target people they perceive as better than them, such as popular, or successful people.  People who harass others however, usually single out people they feel are different from them.  These differences can be racial, gender, cultural, disability, and other differences.

Harassment is easier to prove, because it only takes one instance to identify it.  Harassment is usually bold and in your face so to speak.  Discrimination falls into this category.  Bullying is more subtle and insidious.  Which makes it harder to stop and prove.  Bullying typically happens in private, whereas harassment is usually boldly done to boost the image of the harasser, and to show their peers they are better.

These differences are important to identify because different procedures and strategy need to be taken.  However, in both cases the behavior MUST be reported.  This goes for children too.  Children need to be told by their teachers, parents, clergy that they need to tell if they see another child being bullied.  Just imagine if several children reported the same bully to their teacher or principle, the school would then be pressured to do something about it, and the victim would no longer be a victim. 

If you are being harassed, keep a record of every act.  Record dates, times, locations, witnesses.  Keep every piece of evidence such as emails and phone records.  If suitable, address your concerns with the harasser, tell them to stop.  Report the behavior to your boss, or human resources if it is happening at work.  Contact local law enforcement if necessary.

If you see someone being harassed or bullied, tell the victimizer to stop, but only if you feel safe doing so.  Talk with the victim.  Rally up your peers and friends to stand with the victim.  Usually people are singled out for being socially isolated.  If they aren’t isolated anymore that is a turn off for the bully. 

Now after the suicide of Tyler Clementi there is outrage and remorse.  There needs to be outrage while people are being bullied and harassed.  No one should have to die for people to see what a devastating problem this is.  I wish Tyler would have immediately been surrounded by people who would support him and let him know that what happened to him wasn’t his fault. 

In the end we will remember not the words of our enemies, but the silence of our friends.  Martin Luther King, Jr.

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16 Comments to “Harassment & Bullying”

  1. Hi Dandy,

    It’s distressing to see someone so young and talented as Tyler Clementi take his own life. It is worse to know that he did so because he didn’t know how to cope or have anyone to turn to or help him through this difficult time. The pain which led him to take his life was probably more than we can imagine.

    While we can’t do anything more for Tyler, we should do all we can to help others who are being bullied. Thanks for this informative and important post on dealing with bullying and harassment.

    • Oh, I’m so glad you liked my post. It is an important topic and it needs to be talked about. People who are bullied need support and understanding. They need to know it is not their fault. Thanks so much for your reply!!

      Dandy

  2. That is such a good post. I love the quote by King. It is strange that people don’t group together against the bully but rather leave the “victim” to fend for themselves. I wish that Tyler had been surrounded by a loving and vocal community. I once heard that silence is permission and I think that the community’s refusal to act on his behalf gave the message that this behavior was alright.

    • Hi, thanks for your comment. I’m glad you could take away from my post. You’re right when you said the community’s refused to act on his behalf. It is up to our community to stand against bullies. People need to start taking this more seriously right now. It is more powerful when it is a group that stands up for people and their rights. Thanks again.

      Dandy

  3. Hi Dandy,

    I was reading HuffPost when I thought of your article.

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/08/4-bullied-teen-deaths-at-_n_755461.html

    It’s such a huge shame that 4 lives were lost just because of bullying. I really hated how the bullies laughed at Sladjana Vidovic even though she was dead. What are their parents teaching the kids?

    More has to be done somehow to help. At least to let the victims know they have avenues to turn to when they are in distress.

    • Wow, thanks so much for the link. I just read it. You are right when you mention the parents of the bullies. It starts with them. Parents need to tell their children they must never ever bully someone and if they see someone, anyone being bullied they need to have the character and bravery to stand up for the victim. Thanks again!!

  4. Hi Dandy
    Only read the first few lines… very upsetting to read.

    Never suffered from bullying and remember preventing people from being bullied when I was at school.

    I enjoyed a bit of rough and tumble when I was younger, but never understood bullying.

    • Hi Keith, I think the main thing about bullies is that they are insecure and need to make themselves seem bigger by hurting someone else. I don’t believe that kids will be kids saying. I think that is a lazy way out. No one is perfect. I know I wasn’t an angel every second, but I never sought out anyone to degrade and humiliate. So it is hard to understand. But it is a problem and folks need to start paying attention. No one should have to die because of it. Thanks for the reply!!
      Dandy

  5. Hi Dandy,

    Harassment and bullying are huge problems that many people face. It is really sad how some people do these kinds of acts not caring about the other person’s well being and emotions. There has to be respect between people of all backgrounds, religions, beliefs, etc… Thanks for sharing

  6. Dandy,
    It’s sad that this had to happen – death – to make it “not okay”. Were Tyler Clementi still alive today – would he still be harassed? Again – sadly – I think so. Harassed…because he isn’t the same as everyone else. And honestly…are we all…in our own way…different?

    • Unfortunatley you may be right. Discrimination against gays is rampant and not taken seriously enough. I get so upset when I hear someone say, “oh that’s so gay”. It hurts and it’s wrong. We definatley are all different in our own way. I just wish the differences weren’t seen as a negative thing. I hope and pray that things will get better. I go onto the PFLAG website to feel better. They are doing amazing, positive things.
      Thanks, Dandy

  7. Hi Dandy,

    This was a very sad thing that happened to Tyler. What’s even more sad is that there are young children who have taken their lives because of bullying and harrassment. The parents of these children reported it to the proper authorities and nothing was done. How many more children and young adults have to suffer in silence, where they feel the only way out is suicide?

    This has to stop!

    Take care,

    Evelyn

  8. There’s no set of traits, characteristics, and circumstances that absolutely precludes the possibility of bullying. We’re concerned with the bullying of an elderly woman and her son who has a careging and protective role.There are lessons the son has learned that may be worth thinking about to some others.

    As stated, documentation is important. Write up events as soon as possible. Consider wiring yourself with a small recorder; if you’re going to do that, be very familiar with it and aware of its location and status. If abuse is taken online (theirs was), remember: screen capture is your friend.

    Appointed legal and oraganizational protectors may disappoint. Think of the long haul. Being able to prove a history of bullying or abuse will be important if the situation ever “goes to another level.”

    Deciding how to behave in face to face confrontations, especially if what happens to you will affect someone you care for, is difficult. Thinking ahead may help.

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