Teasing is treated as a normal act of behaviour done for enjoying and having fun. It is a playful act common in almost all kinds of relationships for supposedly creating a lighter mood. But sometimes the outcomes or consequences of teasing are not that much nocuous as they appear. Most of the time it is seen that the act is done non-consensually and the person being teased starts feeling vulnerable. The acts of ridiculing, taunting, mocking etc reveal a lot about the dominant nature of the teasers which makes the victims helpless. Though teasing is labeled as a “harmless” way of enjoying, this “harmless” manner can sometimes lead to bullying that can end up hurting someone’s dignity. The acts of challenging with undesirable tasks, name-calling, hitting, pushing, making crude remarks, passing derogatory comments, spreading rumors against someone, etc normalize bullying.
Teasing is definitely harmless when it is done for provoking fun or entertaining. Such situations sometimes reveal the bonds of friendship and terms of affection with one another. But when the teaser is responsible for breaking consent and doesn’t consider disapproval of teasing then it results in the inappropriate act of bullying.
When Teasing becomes bullying?
“We are just having fun”, “we were just teasing” etc are common phrases that people use when they tease. It is true that teasing can be friendly and even entertaining that can strengthen relationships but it crosses the line when the receiver at the end starts feeling uncomfortable. For example, if a boy is seen with a girl and his acquaintances can say among themselves that she might be his girlfriend or question him in humorously manner whether the girl is his girlfriend. Then he will probably laugh, enjoy the moment and even rationalize his stand about the sayings. He can accept or deny the sayings. But if someone says “he’s a playboy and has been spotted with a girl” then this could hurt him. He might get angry and react with aggression feeling humiliated. There lies the degree of difference while describing a situation using a friendly tone and mocking/taunting one. This reveals the stark difference between harmless and harmful ways of teasing.
Effects of Insensitive Teasing/Bullying
Research found that about 20-30 percent school-age children are involved in bullying either as offenders or victims (Scholastic Parents Staff). Bullying can start in an early age from kindergarten and continue in the later phases of life including high school, workplace etc.
Applying insensitive methods of teasing and bullying can result in low self-esteem, poor participation in social life, severe depression, lack of confidence and all other negative traits. The victims always feel that they are weak and don’t retaliate for the fear of defeat. They find themselves in a vulnerable situation and fail to stand up against the injustice done to them. This is how they become depressed and even start considering themselves as failures.
It is seen that children who are bullied in schools feel reluctant to go to schools and eventually start suffering from psychological problems. Effects of teasing and bullying in children leave the worst impact on them because most of the times their emotions are either ignored or not understood by adults. Sometimes the children can’t even express what they are going through. This is how they face serious challenges both outside and inside their homes and also suffer from chronic mental disorders.
How to recognize the subtle forms of bullying through teasing?
There are many ways where teasing can turn into bullying and normalize the discomfort just in the name of fun. This can involve jokes related to body shaming, slut shaming, hurtful taunts, derogatory name-calling, humiliation, making fun of weaknesses, commenting on sexuality, complexion and many more. Behind the commonly used phrases of “Its nothing serious”, “It’s only a joke” such inappropriate mannerisms are normalized more often.
Therefore, it is important to understand the subtle forms and respond to them with appropriate measures to protect one’s dignity and remain free from such unpleasant activities.
How to deal with the problems of teasing and bullying?
Teasing can start from the initial stage of school so it’s important to stop the ways so that it doesn’t affect the child’s future. The parents shouldn’t ignore the “abnormal behaviour” of their children. If a child remains quiet or frequently cries after coming from school or somewhere else then the parents should find out the reason behind that because just stopping them from crying isn’t enough. Lack of interest in attending school, deteriorating grades, avoiding social interaction, sad gestures, bruises within the body etc indicate strong warnings which the parents should take into account seriously.
Parents should be frank towards their children so that they are free to explain everything to the parents. Accordingly, the children should be taught ways to respond to the teasing/bullying behaviour. Widening the circle can also help the children to deal with the problems by finding new peers. If the need arises the parents should also meet the teachers of their children to inform about the perpetrators at school. Adults can also take help from their parents and other trustworthy people for responding to the offenders. It is important to create boundaries and become assertive for stopping the bully activities and save oneself from mental destruction. One should be very careful while expressing his/her weakness to anyone because the other person cannot always be sensitive enough to understand the vincible conditions. So, it’s better to keep the core talks within oneself and avoid situations of teasing and bullying.