One of the signs that an aggressive act is bullying and not just bad behavior is if there is an imbalance of power – the aggressive party has either the perception or reality of being ‘greater than’ in some manner. This sense of power can come in many forms.
- Power can be demonstrated economically. In an adult relationships if one person makes and controls all of the money, that may be an imbalance of power. In and of itself that is not a problem, unless they use the threat of that power to control the other person.
- Power might be demonstrated physically. If one person is larger, stronger, more aggressive – this imbalance might be shown if the weaker person is afraid of them. They might be afraid of being hit or pushed around.
- Power might be demonstrated mentally. There are many ways this may work out, but many times we will see one person who perceives themselves as smarter or more capable and will be very pushy about getting things done their way. This is true in kids or adults.
- Power might be demonstrated emotionally. Many times manipulation of feelings and actions will be done, based on one persons perception of themselves or the other person.
- Power might be demonstrated even online. If one person is showing up anonymously and is saying mean things about another – they have an illegitment power over the target.
While this list is not exhaustive – it is easy to see how one child might be able to bully another, or a spouse may bully their partner or even their child. Even teachers can sometimes use their ‘power’ in a way that is damaging to a child or fellow teacher.
When we have power in some manner, empathy for others will help us to be thoughtful and careful about how we use it or even how it is perceived. Check out more information on bullying at the class on September 27 @ 10 AM at Balanced Life Skills.
You are invited to come to the first of a series on “The Truth About Bullying”