No Bull: Bullying exists, but it's how you handle it that determines outcome

11/21/13 by Rennie Detore

Bullying can't help but stay in the headlines.
This topic is tantalizing, timely and terribly popular for the wrong reasons, although some right ones managed to push and shove their way to the surface.
The good, as it relates to bullying, comes in the form of anti bullying campaigns put together by a myriad of media heavyweights and corporations that simply refuse to stand idle when this action is all too common.
That's where the positive pretty much ends.
No, bullying isn't anything new. It's been happening for years. If you don't believe that, ask your parents or grandparents. They'll most likely have at least one story regarding how they were bullied or, in some cases, how they were the ones doing the bullying.

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The biggest difference now is awareness and a penchant for acceptance for this act.
More often than not, bullying is linked to kids and school. That typically is the location where bullying takes place on a regular basis, although the recent altercation between Richie Incognito and Jonathan Martin of the Miami Dolphins suggests that bullying runs rampant and roughshod among adults, too.
In the case of Martin and Incognito, these are adults who happen to play professional football, make millions of dollars and, in this case of Incognito, condone bullying as a part of the job.
The story behind Incognito and Martin is that of two teammates turned rivals. Martin left the team, citing racially driven, inappropriate comments and text messages from Incognito that included threatening messages left on Martin's cell phone.
Incognito is trying to push this off as harmless locker room banter that is nothing new to the National Football League. Martin is sticking to his story, thus far, that Incognito isn't the man or friend he once thought.
As the story between Martin and Incognito unfolds and players, coaches and the general population chooses sides, bullying seems destined to remain just as prominent as the story between these two players.
From the football field to the classroom, bullying knows no boundaries as to where, when or how it exists. The trick is recognizing it and understanding how to react. Much like Martin did with Incognito, your best bet is to simply refusing to get mad and, in short, walk away.
Brooks Gibbs is a national spokesman for the Office Depot and its "Be The Difference. Speak Up Against Bullying" program.
Gibbs concurs with how Martin handled his dispute with Incognito and suggest that bullies want you to get mad and by not doing so shows your patience and resolve, no matter how afraid you may be.
Gibbs, who is a youth crisis counselor and bullying expert, is in the midst of a speaking tour for middle school students, supported by Office Dept and the band One Direction. He's quick to suggest that fear is a bi-product of bullying and the emotions you're feeling shouldn't be acted upon, even if one of them is anger.
Gibbs suggests that bullies feed off of fear, and they're only continue to antagonize if you show them that you're fearful of them. As mad as bullies make you, Gibbs says, attacking them also isn't going to solve your problem, either.
Look at the Martin and Incognito saga as proof of that. Here you have two monsters of the gridiron that tip the scales at 300 plus pounds. NFL experts, former and current players and coaches suggest that Martin should have punched Incognito and thus ended the bullying the moment Martin's fist hit Incognito's face.
That thinking is incredibly flawed, according to Gibbs, who suggests that going into full blown attack mode tells bullies that you're enemies, when that might not be exactly what message you'd like to send. The ironic aspect of bullying is the natural reaction to getting picked on, whether it be physically or mentally, is to tell an authority figure. That person can be someone like a teacher, principal or, in the case of Incognito and Martin, a head football coach, general manager or reporter.
Gibbs doesn't encourage the practice of "tattling" or telling on bullies but rather making a conscious effort to resolve differences directly. In this case, Martin opted to go against that advice. That said, Martin may have thought communication with Incognito was futile, based on the violent nature of what Incognito was saying.
Gibbs believes, under those types of circumstances that are considered "rare," that speaking up and telling someone about the bullying is the only path to resolution.
And, ultimately, resolving differences and moving past the conflict is the conclusion you're clamoring for most. The last thing anyone wants when it comes to bullying is a prolonged period of time that is shrouded in uncertainty, anxiety, angst and trepidation.
And, of course, more publicity for a topic that needs banished to the back page.

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