Wave Goodbye to Bullying

Perhaps you’re about to stop reading because you think, “Bullying doesn’t have anything to do with me.” Maybe you’re not being bullied right now, and you think you’ve never bullied anyone. One of the most important things you can learn about bullying is that it can happen to anyone at any time in our lives. What’s more, it’s almost inevitable that all of us will be a bully at some point.

Surprised? Then read on…

17th-21st November is national Anti-bullying Week, so it’s likely you’ll hear your teachers talking about bullying and ways to tackle it in school. So let’s take a few minutes to explore this sordid subject and identify positive steps you can take to stop it.

Like a lot people, you might think that bullying has quite a narrow definition – beating up another kid or intimidating a smaller student until they cry. While both those things are undoubtedly examples of bullying, it might surprise you to learn that you can be considered to be bullying when you “hurt or intimidate someone either mentally, emotionally, or physically.”

Bullying doesn’t have to involve just two students. It could be occurring between two groups or gangs, it could be one group bullying an individual or even an individual picking on a whole group. Bullying can be verbal, non-verbal, or physical. And it doesn’t have to be face to face – it could be on the phone, via text, or online.

Here are some examples of bullying scenarios – have a think if you’ve ever experienced any of these behaviours and whether your behaviour towards others might have made you the bully.

  • Spreading rumours about someone on social media without really knowing the facts
  • Giving someone dirty looks in the hallway
  • Laughing and whispering when someone else is answering a question during a lesson
  • Not letting someone sit at your table in the dining hall
  • Drawing unwanted attention to someone at break time
  • Making negative remarks about a person’s physical appearance – such as their clothes, their hair, their weight, their height, their nose, etc.
  • Texting someone threatening messages
  • Making insulting comments about someone’s family or friends
  • Making Racist, sexist, or homophobic comments directed towards an individual or said in the same room as them to make them feel uncomfortable
  • Physical violence such as hitting, kicking, scratching, slapping, poking and hair-pulling
  • Avoiding being paired or grouped with someone in class because you think they’re a ‘loser’, ‘they smell’, ‘they’re weird’, etc.
  • Posting or sharing sexually explicit photos of someone else online
  • Physical intimidation such as cornering someone, ruffling their hair or snatching their bag

Step 1: Take responsibility

In order to bid farewell to bullying, you need to recognise that while you might not have realised it at the time, you have bullied someone in the past by mentally, emotionally and/or physically hurting and/or intimidating them. Just because you think your behaviour was OK – maybe you think you were being funny or trivial – it doesn’t mean that the person experiencing it, the victim, saw it that way. It’s likely we’ve all been the bully, and we’ve probably all been bullied. Recognise it and move on.

Step 2: Stop doing it

Now you understand what bullying is, it’s time to stop participating in it. Laughing along while someone else is exhibiting bullying behaviour makes you part of the problem. Don’t get caught up in the camaraderie of a group of bullies – walk away from these negative people. Bullying, whether it’s taking place online or in person, can

often seem victimless – it is not. If something negative or embarrassing about one of your fellow students (even someone you don’t know) pops up on social media or in a text, don’t share it or ‘like’ it. Even better, make a stance against it.

Step 3: Make a stand

It’s not enough just to sit in silence and stand by while other people continue this horrific act. If you see, read, or hear about something that you know to be bullying behaviour, say what you think; become a leader and make a stand – tell those involved that you disagree with the behaviour and explain why it’s unacceptable. If you do this in front of your friends, it will give them the confidence to stop joining in with the bullies, which in turn will help them see that their behaviour is unacceptable. There is strength in numbers, so make your strength a force for good.

Step 4: Report it

Possibly the hardest step is reporting bullying to an adult. Most students don’t want to be known for getting other kids in trouble, but if bullying isn’t reported, if there is no official record of the behaviour, then it’s very hard for the adults involved – teachers, parents, and sometimes the police – to do anything to stop it. Whether you’re being bullied or you know someone else who is, it’s essential that you immediately report what you’ve experienced or witnessed. While victims will always fear worse repercussions for getting adults involved, it is often the only real solution to putting an end to bullying once and for all.

If you are ever unsure about whether your behaviour could be hurting or intimidating someone else, simply don’t do it, because there’s a good chance that it might be. Rather than using bullying tactics to be popular and cool, by refusing to be a bully, and by not putting up with any bullying behaviour, you can look good, feel good and connect with others in positive ways.

That’s it from Unstoppable Teen for this month – we’ll be back in December to discuss how gratitude affects your happiness.

Be unstoppable!

Kevin Mincher

“When people hurt you over and over, think of them like sand paper; They may scratch and hurt you a bit, but in the end, you end up polished and they end up useless. “Chris Colfer

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