It’s anti-bullying week (11th – 15th November). As the week comes to an end, we feel it is important to share some facts about bullying. We also encourage you to share with your friends and family! About time we highlight the importance of fighting against bullying especially in schools and workplaces.
According to the U.S. Department of Education,
Bullying is unwanted physical or verbal aggression directed at a specific person, repeated over a period of time, and the acts to exclude the victim from a group.
The truth is, bullying is more than this definition. Bullying is harming, degrading, shaming or humiliating others who are smaller, younger, or in some ways perceived to be weaker or lesser than the bully.
According to statistics, twenty-eight percent of young people from grades 6 through 12 have been the victim of bullying.
Bullying does not just happen amongst children and teenagers; bullying also occur among adults; in families, at work, at social gatherings or religious groups.
Bullying is the result of the bully’s need to get and keep control over another person whether intentionally or unintentionally.
While bullying can be a deliberate act by those with the intention to harm others, it can also be an unconscious behavioural pattern where the bullies are totally unaware of the detrimental impact their actions have on the confidence of others.
BULLYING vs CYBERBULLYING
A bully is a person who intentionally or subconsciously hurts another person either by making them feel uncomfortable, uneasy, rejected, unloved, unequal, different, inadequate, or hurting them by intentionally inflicting physical pain on them, by hitting, punching, kicking, slapping, pinching, pushing or choking them. This is to mention but a few of the many different forms of pain that can be inflicted on people.
Bullies cannot exist without victims. Their self-esteem thrive on that of their victims.
They pick on shy, fearful or quiet individuals or people they’re often intimidated by just to emphasize their own strength, pride, and confidence. After all, without darkness, there is no light and without light, no darkness.
This could be physical through form of attack on another person to hurt them by inflicting pain on them. It could also be verbal bullying where one says hurtful or mean words such as name-calling, body shaming, hurling insults, harsh teasing, taunting, gas-lighting, threatening or uttering sexually derogatory words to another person.
We also have relational bullying which involves separating someone from a group by spreading rumors, intimidating, shaming, or making the person feel unequal, different or like an outcast.
Bullying could also be reactive where one bullies others as a way of responding to being a victim or a former victim.
This is bullying that occurs through use of digital devices or gadgets such as computers, cell phones, tablets, etc. Cyberbullying can be carried out through texts, apps, chat rooms, or online on social media platforms. It includes sending, sharing or posting personal or private information, photos or videos, or sharing false, negative, harmful or mean contents about someone to cause embarrassment or humiliation.
RISK OF BULLYING
Bullying in whatever forms or ways it come, can be emotionally devastating and draining for anyone experiencing it.
Many people do not know how to stand up for themselves without attacking or yielding to the demands of others.
Victims of bullying would eventually begin to have poor social and emotional interactions, low self esteem and even resort to isolation.
Some would begin to experience psychological effects such as anxiety, irritability, frequent nightmares, trouble sleeping, sadness, fear, helplessness, loneliness, depression and withdrawal. Some experience intense emotions such as fear, anger or anxiety associated with emotional triggers.
The truth is bullying can negatively affect one’s mental health.
DEALING WITH BULLYING
The place of education, orientation and awareness cannot be over-emphasized as majority of bullies have no clue about how their actions have adverse effects on others.
Oftentimes, victims are unaware of how to deal with bullying, or where and how to get help. A lot of people who are being bullied would rather keep quiet than talk about it as they often see it as embarrassing. Some even live in denial, acting as though it is normal, refusing to accept that they’re being intentionally or unintentionally being picked on.
Do not forget that the bully’s intention is to take away your power and to keep control over you. And the more you keep letting them do that, the more advantage you give them over you.
It is important to empower those who are bullied with the right knowledge especially with knowing that it is never their fault. It is not because of who you are, how you look or what you do. The bully has made either a conscious or unconscious choice to be a bully and that has nothing to do with you.
Victims must know that they are never alone and you can get help if you ask for it.
Here are a few steps that you can take if you feel that you’re being bullied.
- The first step you can take is to try to work it out. Now, this depends on how bad the situation is. If you are not at risk of being physically harmed, you might want to try to work it out yourself either by talking it out with the bully or standing up for yourself. The more empowered you are, the less power and advantage the bully has over you.
- Walk away when the bully approaches you. Even if you’re scared on the inside, stay calm and keep walking. Walking away does not connote weakness. It only means that you’re strong enough to comport yourself and walk away from trouble. When you walk away you’re taking away the bully’s power too.
- It Stays positive and confident. Remember how much you love yourself. Think about all the people that love and care about you too.
- Walk with friends that you trust and love, and be sure they’re friends that feel the same way about you. By doing so, you’re keeping the bully away from you.
- Get help! Talk about it with someone you trust. Your parents, teachers, older friends, uncles or aunties. Do not feel embarrassed to talk about it. Remember that it isn’t your fault nor is it because of who you are.
- Do not fight back as you may end up being seriously harmed. If you begin to feel anxious, take a deep breath and count to 10 or more to help calm yourself down.
- If you’re being bullied online or via text messages, never respond! This could actually make the bullying worse. B brave. Save the texts, emails, or contents for proof. Talk about it and show to your parents or someone whom you trust to help you out, like your school counsellor, youth leader etc
- Finally, do not be a bystander of bullying. Help them is safe to do so, or get them help immediately. Do not laugh or encourage the bully in any way.
Bystanders are people who witness bullying and cyberbullying, and actually stand by and do nothing other than watch, or videotape, or take pictures.
Oftentimes, bystanders have no idea what to do. They are either afraid, confused or just ignorant. Whichever you are as a bystander, it is important that you know that doing absolutely nothing is you simply sending a clear message to the bully that their behaviour is okay and acceptable when it actually isn’t!
You’re also indirectly sending a message to the victim that you do not care. That is a bad place to be because everyone loves to know that someone cares for them.
Thank you for reading. We hope you found this informative. To learn more about bullying or to help you create your anti-bullying policy and related materials, please contact us.
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