Did you know that 1 out of every 5 adolescent students in Canada are bullied? Frequent bullying in your childhood can cause lifelong mental health problems.
Bullying happens when someone purposely hurts, insults or scares another person. And the person being bullied has a hard time defending themselves. It can happen anywhere in school, around your neighbourhood and even online.
The most common types of bullying are – physical, verbal, social and cyber. Some examples of bullying are:
- Hurting others by hitting, kicking, pushing, shoving, tripping, etc.
- Name-calling (continuously)
- Making fun of someone
- Spreading lies and nasty rumors
- Threatening harm
- Stealing or damaging belongings
- Posting mean messages online over social media or text
- Making them feel uncomfortable.
Bullying can affect a person’s physical and mental health. They will have low self-esteem, feel depressed, might have few to no friends and feel ashamed about being bullied. They might be scared to talk about it. This will also cause their grades to drop and behave unusually. These are things to look for if you think that someone is being bullied. In fact, bullying affects everyone negatively – a person who is bullied, those who witness bullying and those who bully.
What if you are being bullied?
People who bully are often insecure about themselves and are afraid of being left out. They bully to take their bad feelings out on you and make themselves feel better. The bully wants you to react and make you feel sad and scared.
There are lots of things you can try yourself as a first step. If you are more aware, you are more confident and you have better chances to stop the bully. Here are some ways to handle a bully:
- Don’t respond – DON’T, if you do the bully wins. The bully WANTS you to react.
- Walk away – Just randomly walk away it’ll make the bully feel awkward.
- Don’t bully the bully – If the bully insults you or says something mean or offensive, don’t do the same back to them, it’ll increase drama and you might get into trouble.
- Use humour to throw off the track – Using comebacks is a great way to make yourself feel better and shut the bully’s mouth. For example, saying, “Do you feel better now?”, “If you’re talking about me behind my back, clearly my life is a lot more interesting than yours is!” or even, “Here we go again. This is boring. Let me know when you’re done.” All great comebacks.
- Be confident, don’t let the bully affect you – Being confident is very important if you’re being bullied. Using your self-esteem might help you stop the bully.
- Say “STOP” and walk away – Believe it or not, the word stop is really powerful. Yell stop and walk away confidently, no one’s messing with you.
- Stay with a group of friends to avoid the bully – The bully is most likely to bully one person rather than a group of people. If the bully does start bullying you and your friends, pretend that they aren’t even there. They’ll eventually give up.
- Ask for help – If the bully still doesn’t stop tell a trusted adult. Remember it is not your fault and you should not suffer because of someone else’s mistake. Don’t hurt yourself by not telling adults. Telling is not tattling, it is the right thing to do! Telling- getting someone out of trouble. Tattling-getting someone into trouble.
What if you see someone being bullied?
Even if you aren’t targeted by the bully, doesn’t mean you do nothing. If you aren’t part of the solution, you’re part of the problem (like my teacher always says). Here are some ways you can help:
- Ask them if they’re okay or if they need help.
- Do not join the bullying.
- Stand up for the victim if they aren’t in a situation to help themselves.
- Escort the victim away from the bully.
- Comfort them.
- If none of the above works, get a trusted adult to help.
What if you are the bully?
Sometimes you won’t even realize that you are bullying others unless someone complains about it. Mistakes happen but it is never too late to change bullying behavior.
- Apologize – An apology probably will make someone feel better.
- Boost your self-esteem – Self-esteem= Self-confidence. Boosted self confidence= Better life!
- Talk to someone – Letting out all your feelings always relieves you.
- Bullying a bully is still bullying – Do not insult the bully too. You’re a bully if you do this. (See it might not seem like it but it’s reality)
I think it is important to educate people about bullying. Every year, Feb. 24 is marked as Pink Shirt Day. People wear pink shirts to school or work to show they are against bullying. I’m also going to wear a pink shirt to stand against bullying. Do your part and wear a pink shirt to support anti-bullying!
Few useful resources:
Award winning short video on bullying – ‘Silent’