I wrote the following in response to my son relaying a few comments made to him this past week on the school bus. The comments were very subtle, and seemingly innocent. In fact, my son excused the comments as his friends “just being mean.” But I beg to differ. I think these comments are malicious, and I would define them as bullying. I believe that passive aggressive comments, like the ones delivered to my son on this particular day, are flying too far under the radar when it comes to recognizing bullying. Thus, this blog.
Although October was Bullying Awareness Prevention month, I think it fitting as we go softly into the subsequent month that we remind ourselves afresh: bullying is an on-going issue. And so too, should be awareness of such.
One subtle, yet all too prevalent, form of bullying is passive aggression. Passive aggression has been defined as behaviour characterized by feelings of resentment and aggression that are exhibited in unassertive, passive ways. (Merriam-Webster.com) Along with being pervasive, it is also possibly one of the most damaging forms of bullying in that it slowly chips away at self-esteem and confidence, paving the pathway for much more deep-seated problems in victims down the road. It has the power to unhinge the mind of the most capable, competent individuals by undermining their abilities and self-worth. The power of the ill-spoken word.
Passive aggression is dangerous.
Humans learn early how to use this deadly form of inflicting pain. Children do not have to be taught how to subtly pass judgment on their peers about the clothing they are wearing, the hairstyles they are sporting or the mannerisms they are exhibiting. Along with passing judgment on other aspects of their peers’ personal appearance and personality traits. In our family, we are all too aware of the power that a seemingly innocuous comment can have on the receiver of the same. And it starts early on. The age-old adage that ‘words will never hurt me’ is ludicrous. Of course they do. And so too does sarcasm and ill-intended body language (smirks, raised eyebrows, rolled eyes, exasperated sighs, etc.) And these behaviours will continue to do so until we are able to educate our youngest citizens about the importance of treating all people with respect and dignity.
And how to choose words and actions wisely.
And so as we begin another week, I am reminding myself to do the following. Treat others kindly and respectfully this week. Show dignity for all life. And make my own life an example by which others choose to model their lives. You and I are the most powerful tools for educating others that can be found. We must not miss an opportunity to stamp out bullying.