Bullying (from Wikipedia):
Bullying is a form of aggressive behavior manifested by the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when the behavior is habitual and involves an imbalance of power. It can include verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed repeatedly towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality, or ability. The “imbalance of power” may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a “target”.
Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal, and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation. Bullying can be defined in many different ways. The UK currently has no legal definition of bullying, while some U.S. states have laws against it.
Bullying ranges from simple one-on-one bullying to more complex bullying in which the bully may have one or more ‘lieutenants’ who may seem to be willing to assist the primary bully in his or her bullying activities. Bullying in school and the workplace is also referred to as peer abuse. Robert W. Fuller has analyzed bullying in the context of rankism.
Bullying can occur in any context in which human beings interact with each other. This includes school, church, family, the workplace, home, and neighborhoods. It is even a common push factor in migration. Bullying can exist between social groups, social classes, and even between countries (see jingoism). In fact, on an international scale, perceived or real imbalances of power between nations, in both economic systems and in treaty systems, are often cited as some of the primary causes of both World War I and World War II.
This is one of the best definitions of bullying I have found. Many think it happens only to school-age children, but like domestic violence it is a form of power and control that is used a LOT more widely than people want to believe. I especially appreciate that last paragraph (I put it in bold).
Gossip can be a form of bullying. You may not be able to stop hearing it, but you can stop repeating it. Facebook, Twitter, and other social media are often used to bully, with photos and innuendos. Employers get away with bullying, because in this economy few people are willing to lose their jobs. Advertising can be a form of bullying, when they imply you are stupid or “less than” because you don’t use their products.
People can have any opinions they want, and there is nothing wrong with logical argument and appeals to someone’s better nature. But when people try to make others feel badly or scared to make them do something, that is flat out wrong. No matter who does it.