In his article in the New York Times on December 5, 2008, “In Defense of Teasing,” Dacher Kelter writes in defense of teasing. A section of his article has been widely quoted, “The reason teasing is viewed as inherently damaging is that it is too often confused with bullying. But bullying is something different; it’s aggression, pure and simple. Bullies steal, punch, kick, harass and humiliate. Sexual harassers grope, leer and make crude, often threatening passes. They’re pretty ineffectual flirts.” I think he’s missing the crucial point that helps you decide when teasing is bullying and when it’s not. And it’s really simple. When two people agree to tease and know the limits and boundaries, teasing can be a lot of fun. And even allow things to be said in a friendly way that might be hard to say or hear in other ways.
But when only the “teaser” wants to tease, but the “teasee” doesn’t want it, then it’s bullying. And the effects on the “teasee” can be quite damaging if the “teasee” does rise up and stop it. When the “teasee” stops it, he or she grows much stronger in character, courage and skill.
You know how you feel when someone has crossed the line with you, but how to tell when you’ve crossed the line? Usually the other person’s baffled, hurt or angry expression will tell you.
It’s that simple.
I give examples of how to deal with unwanted teasing in my book “Parenting Bully-Proof Kids” and the CD set “How to Stop Bullies in their Tracks.” Of course, we coaching can help you design tactics that fit your specific situation.