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Fine line between teasing and bullying

By Aubrey Cox - | Jan 6, 2014

Bullying is a rising concern for many teens, but what about teasing? Most people don’t notice how thin the line between the two is.

They are similar in a few ways; both make another person look stupid by joking or taunting them, for example. However, they do have differences.

Teasing is mutual, meaning that both people are in agreement that they are joking around. Bullying isn’t mutual. Sounds easy to tell the difference, right? Wrong. Teasing can turn into bullying as quick as someone could snap their fingers. As soon as the other person is uncomfortable with what you are saying, you are bullying.

Let’s say you have a friend named Laura, for example, who has blonde hair. You and her other friends constantly tease her about her hair and call her a “dumb blonde.” One day, she gets a really bad grade and is feeling really stupid. You calling her a dumb blonde then becomes hurtful.

So then, how does Laura say that she feels bullied? How does she speak up — or how does anyone?

I think, you should simply say to your friends that you don’t feel comfortable with what they are saying. Just be honest with them. If they don’t stop, walk away from them. You should say something and at least try to make them understand.

Now, if you are the person saying the words, how can you possibly see that your friend is hurt by what you say without them saying a thing? If your friend is no longer laughing at your comment, or looks like they are annoyed by you, that’s enough to go by. As soon as it looks like they aren’t enjoying what you say, drop it and back off. Maybe later you can ask them what’s up and help them out with their situation.

Really, a big way to tell the difference between bullying and teasing is to find out how the other person truly feels. It doesn’t matter how close you are to them, anyone can get hurt by what you say. Your safest bet is to not even joke around. But, it does come out every once in a while, so you just have to be careful with what you say. Very careful.

One of my math teachers, Toni Booth, would always talk about bullying to our class. She would always tell us to be careful about what we say because a person’s opinion about something can change quickly. Booth says, “Teasing can be fun, flirtatious and even funny. But it can also be devastating, demoralizing and demeaning.”

Everyone really needs to understand the difference between teasing and bullying. Victims of bullying go through severe illnesses. Sometimes, it can be as serious as depression, anxiety, loss of appetite and even a change in sleeping patterns. Occasionally, kids even drop out of school because of bullies. If people don’t understand how severe these consequences are, they may be walking into a death trap and dragging others down with them.

Personally, I say that if you don’t mean to harm your friend, either mentally or physically, walk away and hold back on your comments. Most likely if you want that to happen, it will. If you even suspect that your actions will be taken the wrong way, don’t do it.

Let’s stop bullying before it gets anymore out of hand. Don’t just stop with not doing it yourself, look around you and stop others from getting hurt. When you step up for someone else, you show them that they aren’t alone. They’ll feel better. Most likely, the bully will stop.

How do you step up? Well, it’s as simple as walking up to the bully and telling them to stop. Don’t try to urge on a fight between the two of you, just calmly try and stop it. Then, grab the person being bullied and get them out of there.

Aubrey Cox is a sophomore at Roy High School. She enjoys reading, writing,and watching many favorite TV shows. Contact her at aubs98@msn.com.



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