Creation and prevention

May 06, 2010

Part 1


What is bullying, and what are its causes, effects and prevention? According to the U.S. Substance Abuse & Mental Health Services, bullying is a form of abuse, harassment and violence created by:

1) A power imbalance in size, gender, strength, verbal skills or popularity.

2) Physical violence, verbal abuse, psychological torment, hitting, threatening, exclusion, shunning, harassment via e-mail or social networking.

3) Bullies may target tormented, helpless, low self-esteem and defenseless people. The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry reports that 50% of all young people are bullied at least once during their school years. One in 10 are suffering from ongoing harassment and abuse. Bullying has a potential to inflict considerable damage on victims and perpetrators. It is often a symptom of underlying disorders.


Why is this subject so current in our society? Recently, a young girl committed suicide because of harassment, humiliation and bullying by some of her classmates on a social networking site. These incidents are becoming more frequent. Bullies exist in all types of people, all ages and all places. The pain that can be caused can be insufferable and dangerous with lifetime damage.

I have witnessed a situation where a high school girl was rejected and excluded from the “clique” that she was in as a performer in the school play; this was because she was “different.” Often children are excluded from birthday celebrations. To avoid this feeling of exclusion, if most of the girls in the classroom are invited to the party, it is important to invite all of them. If most of the boys in the classroom are invited, it is important to invite all of them.

Bullying occurs in classrooms and also in the workplace. A friend of mine was harassed by a boss who was continually criticizing her in front of others. It became unbearable, and she had to leave the corporation and file a suit for emotional harassment. She won, yet there was so much emotional harm that she had to change careers.

As an adult, I encountered bullies who tried to gain power by humiliating and criticizing. When I was in college, a teacher berated one of her students by telling her that she would never be able to complete college, and that she just wasn’t mentally capable. She quit school. Fortunately, she later returned and got her doctorate. Needless to say, I was horrified by the way that teacher would treat someone, and I have never forgotten the incident.

Next week, I will share some causes, effects and preventive ideas for creating civility in the homes, schools and workplaces.

Get in touch ? DIANA OLSON, MA AICI CIP, is an Image/Etiquette & Civility specialist who conducts consultations and seminars for individuals, corporations and children. Petite Etiquette classes for parents and children will be held May 22, June 19 and July 17. Contact Diana at, (626) 584-9761 or

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