October Is Anti Bullying Month
“You look silly – just kidding”
“You cannot join our group. We don’t like you”
Simple statements.. but did you know these are signs of bullying? No matter what situation or form it takes, bullying has one common factor – it makes the victim feel depressed, hurt, and alone. It keeps them from enjoying the activities and places that are part of their life.
Bullying happens everywhere, all the time, and it's happened forever. Because it's so common, adults sometimes think bullying is just a normal part of growing up. But why should something that can make a person so miserable be part of growing up? The answer is, it doesn't! Each and every one of us has the right to feel safe in our lives and feel good about ourselves.
October is designated National Anti-Bullying Month in the US, to bring attention to bullying across the country and explore solutions to the problem. In all, 47 states in the US have passed some legislation or another, to address bullying in schools. Even Sesame Street has created a show to empower children as young as three to recognize and combat bullying.
What exactly is bullying?
Bullying usually happens when there is an imbalance of power – the bully is either bigger in size, has superior knowledge or better in some activity, and desires to hurt the other person. Bullying need not always be physical such as hitting, pushing around, stealing, or forcing people to do what they do not wish to. It could be verbal - teasing, insulting, refusing to talk to someone, spreading lies or rumors, or excluding someone from a group.
How do you spot a bully?
Bullies come in all genders, shapes, sizes, looks and colors. But one thing that is common is that something or someone is making the bully feel insecure and the act of bullying helps them feel better. The bully may be having a problem in his / her life elsewhere - not getting enough attention, has been bullied before or maybe exposed to a lot to violence in movies and TV. It is important that bullies get help at a young age, or they could turn into even meaner grownups.
And then there are some who are appear nice to you when alone and mean when with others. These people are probably victims of peer pressure.
The good news is we can and should standup whether we are being bullied or watching bullying happen. If it is unsafe to stop a bully during the act, reach out for help and report the situation appropriately as soon as possible. Watching bullying happen is as bad and encourages the bully.
Stopbullying.gov, an initiative from the U.S government, suggests the following strategies to handle bullying.
- Try to surprise the bully by speaking up, using humor or walking away. If a strategy does not work, don’t keep reusing it
- Be assertive, not aggressive
- Ignoring a bully is a common mistake made and may backfire as the bully will work harder to push your buttons
- If you are friends with or know a bully well enough, help them understand their behavior and how they would feel if they were the in the victim’s shoes. A trusted adult could be a valuable guide to you and the bully
Here are more tips suggested by experts.
While it is true that nobody is perfect in this world, it is also true that each of us have our own individual strengths. We have the right and privilege to define our lives for ourselves and not have to accept other’s definition of ours. In the real world, might does not win – successful teams and companies are formed by people cooperating and working together.
Below is the first of eleven excellent videos. Check out stopbullying.gov for the remaining webisodes on bullying.
Do you have any questions or comments on bullying? Can you think of other ways that we can combat bullying in our schools and playgrounds?