We all understand what bullying is. We have all seen it, or been involved with it on at least one side of the happy slapping. For those lucky enough to not know what bullying is, it is using force in order to intimidate someone; usually the big guy expressing his physical superiority over the little guy. It can be verbal as well as physical. There are many reasons why bullies do what they do, but we won’t get into that. Bullies, basically use their superiority over someone who appears weak in order to intimidate them and scare them into submitting. It is a small but known cause for suicides. So, bullying can go too far, hence all the laws and control over it.
Any behavior intended to disturb or upset another person is termed as harassment. Legally speaking, it is intentional behavior which is found disturbing or threatening. Repetitive and uninvited sexual advances are sexual harassment and it is most commonly seen in the workplace. A little teasing, irritating and a random joke or two can get seriously out of hand.
The worst part about bullying and harassment is that the victim is too scared to approach a higher authority in order to stop this behavior. They eventually lose faith in authority or may have a very strong feeling of hatred and vengeance which they might express in extreme ways. Bullying and harassment have been directly linked to suicidal tendencies, psychopathic behavior, self-mutilation etc. It is also found that most serial killers have been bullied in their lives.
Stalking is literally defined as some form of unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group toward another person. Most stalking laws are vague and it is usually upon the judge and jury to decide whether it is broken or not. But The Violence Against Women Act of 2005, defines stalking as ‘engaging in a course of conduct directed at a specific person that would cause a reasonable person to -
(A) Fear for his or her safety or the safety of others;
(B) Suffer substantial emotional distress.’
Stalkers basically believe that the other person loves them and is unwilling to express it as they are probably scared or being coerced. So they tend to want to “rescue them” or “win their hearts”. Sometimes it can be sexual advances in the place of work. Sometimes it can be constant bullying over the phone. It could be general verbal abuse. This is where bullying, harassment and stalking come together.
How the three come together into an unwanted situation
To understand their connection with each other, one must understand the psychology behind it. A bully feels envy or resentment towards the victim. Harassment is behavior intended to upset the victim. Stalking is a form of unwanted, obsessive attention. So, when someone mixes it up with these three and makes someone uncomfortable in the work place, and doesn’t stop after repetitive warnings, they violate criminal stalking laws (in most places). Approach a lawyer and seek justice if you have been a victim!
Hazing and teasing is done in many forms in many places. And the intent behind it is lost now as it is taken over by clichés and insecurities. A joke just gets too far, sometimes. Or, maybe it doesn’t. The victim probably just wants attention. There is a fine line, more like murky waters; and these are very difficult to quantify as you are dealing with feelings and emotions. Thankfully, lawyers and judges understand that and deal with it as such.
This article is submitted by Keith Shelby. He writes articles related to business, law and technology. He is strictly against any kind of physical abuse and says people who resort to it should be severely punished.