Bullying can consist of four basic types of abuse – emotional (sometimes called relational), verbal, physical, and cyber. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.

Peer pressure is an influence when a peer group, or individual encourages another person to change their values, or behaviors to suit other people’s convenience.

When I was a kid, I was one of the bullied. I was short, fat and an easy target. When I got into my teenaged years, the bullying faded away, but peer pressure became more prevalent. Thankfully, the few good friends I surrounded myself with didn’t force me to do anything I didn’t want to do. But I saw a lot of peer pressure. Then, as now, it was unacceptable.

But a funny thing happened recently, I saw what seems to be an acceptable form of peer pressure or bullying, from charities.

Actually, it has been going on for years.

You may have seen those commercials about kids in (insert the favourite Third World country of the moment here), or sad-looking animals in shelters. All of them want our money, and aren’t above making us guilty to do it. Awareness of something is one thing. Manipulating people into doing something, or donating money, no matter how worthy the cause, just rubs me the wrong way.

The recent fad involving the ALS Ice Bucket Challenge has taken it one step further. You either donate or pour a bucket of ice water over your head. Then, you challenge three others to do the same thing. So basically, we are being told by others, whether it is a friend, or social media friend, to donate, because even if you ice bucket yourself, you still have to donate, just not as much. Sure, no one is “telling” you to donate, but it is using “subtle methods” to illicit money.

Now, before you call me a callous asshole, I’m NOT telling you the charities or causes are not worthy. They absolutely are! Those children in whatever Third World country they are talking about need food and shelter. Those sad animals in shelters need more funding. ALS is a terrible disease, and the viral effect the Ice Bucket Challenge has created has definitely raised awareness.

But using any methods, no matter how subtle, to change people’s values, kinda irritates me.

Although, as a kid, I never considered myself, or my family, “poor”. There were good times and lean times, but we always had enough.  Were never told this directly, but we always believed that “Charity begins at home”, that we should take care of family and people close to you before you worry about helping others. To me, that doesn’t mean ignoring other’s strife, but it doesn’t mean giving until you are in need as well. I see it as giving to others when you can, in your way, and giving what you feel comfortable giving.

For as long as I can remember, every Christmas, when the Salvation Army put out their kettles, I donated. Sometimes it was just some change, other times, it was a few dollars or more. But, when I discovered how they discriminate against homosexuals in their hiring practices, as well as their helping homosexual families, I stopped donating. In my life, my values don’t discriminate who needs help. Now, I donate to other organizations who will be fair and equal to all.

I tend to believe that our values are reflected in how we help out others. It can be as simple as helping out a total stranger when they are in need, or donating what you can afford to a worthy cause. When others dictate what our values should be, how we can help others, or manipulate us, that just isn’t right.

Don’t blindly give to organizations with manipulative commercials. Learn more about the organization. Learn where your money is going, or if there are other ways to give. Some places take working bicycles to ship to nations where bikes are the main source of transportation. Another place accepts old glasses and sends them to places where they might be needed.

There is no right or wrong way to give. If you give freely, without coercion, then give.

Here are some links to learn more about some of the organizations I mentioned.