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Bullying. The word conjures images of school-age children and teens being pushed around or made the butt of jokes and laughter.

It’s unwanted, aggressive behavior involving a threat or power imbalance or strength, whether perceived or real. Stopbullying.gov adds this includes such actions as making threats, spreading rumors, physical or verbal attacks or excluding an individual from a group on purpose.

A mere word doesn’t convey its seriousness. It robs people and sometimes entire groups of their human rights and leads to death in many instances, whether by suicide or lethal violence.

English: A graph showing where electronic aggr...

English: A graph showing where electronic aggression occurs. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Bullying reaches further than just school-age children. victimization occurs at all ages. It happens under dictatorships, between religious factions, due to gangs, because of ethnicity, sexual orientation or gender identity, disabilities, in date-related violence, hazing, stalking, and in the workplace.

In the modern age, bullying even follows us online.

Students

Some victimized students have committed suicide or turned to lethal violence to escape the abuse. About 75 percent of school shootings are bully related. According to the Center for Disease Control, suicide is the third-leading cause of death in youths ages 10 to 24. Half of the 4,600 annual suicides U.S. averaging 4,600 annually, half of which are bullying related. For every successful suicide, there are around 100 attempts. 

Bullying robs victimized students of a good education and, as a result, their hope of a better future. According to an ABC News report, 160,000 students stay home daily due to fear of bullying. The report stats that about 30 percent of the student population is either a bully or a victim. This overwhelming problem is often made worse by complacent teachers, and the general belief that bullying is just part of being a kid. We all go through it or witness it making it seem “normal.”

Following all current all guidelines, students tell an adult when victimized or if a witness to it. Often times this increases the problem as the bullies  retaliate. However, it remains the best course of action.

Bullying and its related stress causes mental health issues, including Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, panic attacks, and other issues.

Workplace

According to the Workplace Bullying Institute, targeted workers are most likely targeted because the instigator finds them a threat. “The perception of the threat is entirely in his or her mind, but it is what he/she feels and believes,” the website states.

It goes on to stats that the targets are more technically skilled than the bullies.

“They are the ‘go-to’ veteran worker to whom new employees turn for guidance. Insecure bosses and co-workers can’t stand to share the credit,” the site claims. “Bully bosses steal credit from skilled targets.”

A 2013 Workplace Bullying Institute report stated that about 35 percent of US workers or 53.5 million people, reported being bullied at work.

…It attacks the cardiovascular and immune systems, adverse neurological changes such as  Neurotransmitter Disruption or Hippocampus Shrinkage and diseases such as diabetes, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Fibromalgia, skin disorders.

Gangs

Researchers in a study published in Psychology of Violence claim, “Gang presence causes incidents of victimization toward students and teachers to become more violent. And, fearing for their own safety, bystanders, teachers and administrators adopt a laissez-faire attitude toward bullying that perpetuates a culture of victimization.”

The U.S. Centers of Disease Control and Prevention funded this study as part of its larger project studying the link between bullying and sexual violence.

Researcher Anjali Forber-Pratt seemed to agree with the Psychology of Violence article when she wrote, “Fear permeates the school environment, affecting both students and teachers. We believe as a research team that this permeation of fear possibly paralyzes bullying prevention efforts. At a very significant and practical level, school staff and administrators need to recognize that gang presence does have an influence on behaviors in schools.”

Forber-Pratt said, “Facing ‘substantial pressure’ to join gang life and possible harm or death if they resist, some students capitulate because they perceive gangs as providing safety, peer support and a sense of family. These deep bonds, pressures about loyalty and the hierarchical power structure of gangs “convolute” bystander and peer influence on victimization, making it far less likely that gang members or other bystanders will intervene on victims’ behalf.”

In God’s Name

There is a great divide between religious sects, mainly the Sunni and Shia, in the Islāmic faith. However, there are also differing interpretations of the Qur’an and the Hadith. Wars are often started in trying to obliterate opposing sects. Some interpretations of Sharia law are especially known for its bullying and denial of human rights.

For example, under the Taliban’s strict beliefs, they forbade listening to music, dancing, movie making and possession and/or use of satellite dishes, billiard tables, chess, masks, alcoholic drinks, computers, VCRs, televisions, nail polish, firecrackers, kites, statues, sewing catalogs, photographs or artwork, Christmas cards and more. Stuffed animals and dolls were forbidden for children. Nothing could depict a living thing. Food prohibitions included anything pork-related, and lobster. Men had to grow full beards, have short head hair and wear head coverings.

Women received the worst treatment under the Taliban’s rule in Afghanistan. They had to wear the burqa and could not be seen in the streets without a blood relative. They couldn’t be seen on their balcony, on TV or speak with a loud voice in public or even wear high heels. Women could not be educated after turning eight. They could only work in the medical sector. Women had no rights in regard to marriage, divorce or child custody. It permitted the marriage of children under 16 years old, while some countries allow it under 18 years old. Women who engaged in affairs faced the death penalty or public flogging while the men went unpunished. There were many other restrictions on women.

Some interpretations encourage men to use domestic violence against a woman whose husband suspects disobedience, rebellion, disloyalty or other ill conduct.

Homosexuality is forbidden under Sharia law but the penalties differ among countries ranging from harassment to the death penalty. The Christians, Jews and Catholics share the belief it is forbidden by God.

Even the Catholic faith is guilty of a mild form of bullying by practicing exclusion. If you go to a Catholic Church to attend a funeral, and you’re not Catholic, you must sit in the back of the church. Its members conduct business at Catholic-owned businesses before other businesses. They are also strongly encouraged to vote for Catholics running for office. Families treat a person who leaves the faith, the nunhood or priesthood as though they’re dead. There is a series of rules to follow to become a member even if you’re already a Christian. Other Christian Churches allow you to join the moment you become a Christian.

The Vatican holds vast amounts of historic documents in its Secret Archives and library. The Secret Archive was completely closed to outsiders until 1881. Only qualified scholars pursuing historical or scientific research can apply for an entry card.

For a short time to mark the 400th anniversary of the secrete archive’s creation, some of the archive documents were on display. You can see some of them at: http://www.vatican.va/archive/. Select digitized documents from the library are available at http://www.vatlib.it/home.php?ling=eng&res=1366×768.

War

During periods of war, the citizens not only endure killing, including massacres, and destruction of property, they may also face theft, rape and forced induction into the military.

According to a 55-page report by the United Nations, while the Taliban was working to gain control of the northern and western sections of Afghanistan, they committed 15 systemic massacres against civilians. They also claim they are the same types of war crimes committed in Bosnia.

They didn’t stop after the US invasion either. The UN claims the Taliban was responsible for 80 percent of civilian casualties in 2011.

Muslims were on the receiving end of ethnic cleansing in the Bosnian conflict involving Orthodox Serbs, Catholic Croats and Muslim Bosnians from March 1, 1992, and December 14, 1995. That conflict began to turn in power when the Catholics and Muslims aligned forces against the Serbs.

A CIA report in 1995 found the Serbian forces responsible for 90 percent of the war crimes committed during the conflict.

Currently, in Iraq, there is a power struggle between the Sunni and Shia nearing civil war.

There were many other wars throughout history in the name of religion, including the Crusades.

Bullying Affects Mind and Body

Bullying and its related stress causes mental health issues, including Post-traumatic Stress Syndrome Disorder (PTSD), anxiety, panic attacks, and other issues. Although PTSD, is usually associated with war veterans, it is possible to contract the disorder as a result of childhood abuse or bullying, domestic violence or workplace hostility. Overwhelmed coping abilities cause the disease.

It attacks the cardiovascular and immune systems, adverse neurological changes such as  Neurotransmitter Disruption or Hippocampus Shrinkage and diseases such as diabetes, Chronic Pain Syndrome, Fibromalgia, skin disorders.

An article in the Annual Review of Psychology in 2007, written by Kip Williams of Purdue University, an expert on ostracism, stated that “when an individual is exposed to social exclusion in a simulated game experiment, responses follow a predictable sequence: (a) a reflexive painful response, (b) increased sadness and anger stemming from threats to our need for belonging, self-esteem, control and meaningful existence, (c) a reflective, cognitive stage to appraise the situation, the reasons for and sources of ostracism, with individual differences guiding the resulting conclusion.”

Read sources for more information:
http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/bullying-and-suicide.html
http://www.arkofhopeforchildren.org/issues/child-bullying-statistics-info#.UlC5zb-9KSM
http://www.apa.org/topics/bullying/
Http://www.pacer.org/publications/bullypdf/BP-1.pdf
http://www.pacer.org/bullying/
http://www.workplacebullying.org
http://news.illinois.edu/news/13/0418bullying_DorothyEspelage.html
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taliban#Oppression_of_women
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islamic_theology
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sharia#Human_rights
Hajjar, Lisa. “Religion, state power, and domestic violence in Muslim societies: A framework for comparative analysis.” Law & Social Inquiry 29.1 (2004); see pages 1-38
Treacher, Amal. “Reading the Other Women, Feminism, and Islam.” Studies in Gender and Sexuality 4.1 (2003); pages 59-71
John C. Raines & Daniel C. Maguire (Ed), Farid Esack, What Men Owe to Women: Men’s Voices from World Religions , State University of New York (2001), see pages 201-203
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Vatican_Secret_Archives
http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/304070/vatican-secret-archives-unveiled-george-weigel
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Islam_and_warBullying and gangs, White R, Mason R., School of Sociology and Social Work, University of Tasmania, Tasmania, Australia. r.d.white@utas.edu.au

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