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Overuse Of The Word “Bully”

By Ross Ellis

The dictionary describes the word “Bully” as a person who is habitually cruel to others. It also says a bully is a tormenter who has a imbalance of power and uses this behavior towards others on a CONSTANT basis.

It is becoming increasingly alarming at how many people use the word “Bully” in the wrong context.

It’s gotten to the point that if people don’t like what you say, they don’t like your opinion, or they just can’t get what they want from you, they will call you a “Bully.” Now car companies are calling drivers "bullies."

At STOMP Out Bullying, we heard from a 10 year-old girl who said she was being bullied. When we asked her what was happening, she said a boy was teasing her because he liked her. We had to explain to her that this was nothing more than normal social interaction.

A man wrote to us and told us his friends ribbed him after he lost a poker game and he feels he was bullied.

Another person wrote to us complaining that his company was discriminating against him and said he is being bullied.

I was talking to a business colleague who told me his wife suggested he lose some weight and he accused her of being a bully.

An event planner was hosting an event and trying to use a company’s trademarked name and logo and when the president told her she couldn’t, she called him a bully.

Jennifer Livingston, news anchor was a victim of unfair cruelty. She was not bullied.

Parents are screaming at teachers and principals that their kids are being bullied when in reality their kids are very shy and have trouble making friends.

While this is not true for kids being isolated by mean friends on a continual basis – parents cannot assume their kids are being bullied as a matter of course.

Because bullying is such a hot issue, everyone is using the term “Bully” in one way or another – yet completely OUT of context.

Normal social interaction, being told something you don’t want to hear, being ribbed by your friends on one occasion, being treated cruelly one time -- is not bullying.

Kids who are repeatedly harassed and taunted and attacked are absolutely being bullied and need to be protected by their parents and the school system. However, children who happen to find themselves on the receiving end of a snarky remark or a disrespectful comment, have to learn the power to stand up for themselves.

Much of this is just plain old DRAMA! Some of it is not. But we'll never know what real bullying is, if people continue to abuse the word.

Bullying is clearly as described above and is done on a constant basis. When we use the word “Bully” in the wrong context we are sending a message to those around us that everyone is being bullied and we are telling people we are victims. The people in the instances above were not bullied and the only person who was a victim was Jennifer Livingston who I greatly admire!

We have become desensitized to the word and as a country we are overusing it. This can be harmful to kids who are truly being bullied on a regular basis. We are creating a world of victims! We cannot become victims by one time events – or because we didn’t hear what we wanted to hear from the person we were speaking to.

So please for the sake of our children – let’s use the word “Bully” in a real and responsible way. Bullying is difficult enough when it happens for real. Let’s not create a country of victims because our society overuses a word.


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