Be proactive against bullying
Some people won’t be happy until they’ve pushed you to the ground. What you have to do is have the courage to stand your ground and not give them the time of day. Hold on to your power and never give it away. Donna Schoenrock
I’ve been actually really very pleased to see how much awareness was raised around bullying, and how deeply it affects everyone. You know, you don’t have to be the loser kid in high school to be bullied. Bullying and being picked on comes in so many different forms. Lady Gaga
The words of a bully can haunt for a lifetime, but a victim’s words – describing their pain – never feels enough. Unknown
More and more suicides caused by bullying, or bullycide incidents, are occurring as the brutality takes to the internet. Amanda Todd (pictured) is the recent poster girl as her story hit international headlines following a cry for help posted on YouTube. She’s not the first to take her life because of bullying and the eerie truth is: she won’t be the last.
According to the Australian Bureau of Statistics 2012, reducing bullying in schools is one of the top social issues consistently important to students across the country. It’s hard to believe that 1 in 10 students that drops out of school, does so because of repeated bullying. Celebrities, such as country singer Taylor Swift, claim to have been bullied at school. Many, including Taylor, write popular songs about their ordeal, and while this may glamorise a very ugly subject, it also raises awareness for a highly under-rated issue.
With more and more organisations fighting to combat bullying, there is still little information and support out there for victims that are suffering in silence. The scars from bullying are rarely acknowledged – possibly because past victims don’t want to open those old wounds to discuss and revisit what happened to them. I am absolutely passionate about combatting bullying – in schools and the office. More can be done! It is National Anti-Bullying Week this week (starting today), so Happiness Weekly looks at how YOU can be proactive against bullying and what more we can do.
What does bullying do to a person long-term?
It affects their…
– Self-worth: they’re so used to hearing that they’re a failure and all the things they can’t do that they’re filled with self-doubt. This affects victims for a long time after the bullying stops. It’s exhausting trying to get the energy to find self-worth again! If nothing is done, this self-doubt becomes so ingrained in the victim’s mind that when applying for jobs or going for a promotion, they will tend not to over-extend themselves and will stick to roles they are confident they can do. Not out of laziness, but out of doubt. Doubts they only have because other people put them there.
– Commitments: They will probably avoid any situation where they feel as though they will be harassed, caged-in, anxious, bullied or defeated. This could affect things such as serious relationships and job prospects going forward – because if something that is said is taken the wrong way, that person who was once a victim of bullying will replay the tape in their mind and feel the same emotions they felt at the time of the bullying, can take it a lot more personally than originally intended and will more than likely avoid the situation by leaving the relationship or job – which could ultimately affect their career.
More symptoms published by the Herald Sun are available here or read what victims and bullies say upon reflection here.
*** BE PROACTIVE AGAINST BULLYING ***
Generally adults with power (teachers, parents and managers) will tell victims not to respond or fight back: “just ignore it” – an unproductive response that doesn’t validate their feelings or needs. We all need to start taking responsibility and empowering our youth! Children need to learn assertive communication and be given practical tips for how to overcome the feelings they have after suffering at the hands of bullies. Some more practical solutions and alternatives to the “just ignore it” response, may include:
VICTIM: What you can do before it becomes a problem
– Choose not to be the victim (avoid the bully, don’t play into their hands)
– Seek courses in leadership, conflict management, assertive communication, self-esteem
– Be proactive in shifting your focus from the suffering and feelings of self-worth and guilt
– Find a way to take advantage of the situation – look for the lessons, let it strengthen you
– Speak to the school counsellor, a teacher or year advisor: suggest an afterschool class for victims – if you’re at work, speak to your HR department recommend team building if the bully is in your team and see if you can find a common ground to relate to them
– Tell your parents or a close friend and ask them to take part in an educational program with you
Remember, bullying doesn’t stop in high school – statistics show that workplace bullying and harassment is on the rise. The fact is you can’t change the bully or make them go away, but you can change yourself (choose not to be the victim), take control and ultimately change the result.
BULLY: What you can do before it becomes a problem
– Find out what is causing them to be nasty and need the power associated with bullying
– Fill the void with a healthy alternative such as taking a class: kindness, leadership, anger management, mindfulness programs etc.
– Speak to a counsellor
– Avoid toxic friends and people who support or encourage the behaviour
Bullies need to first realise they have a problem before they can be proactive in seeking the help and guidance they need. A key area to shift the bully’s focus is to concentrating on how they can change for the better and becoming the best person possible.
PARENT: What you can do before it becomes a problem
– Communicate a zero-tolerance for bullying behaviour by applying negative consequences if displayed. Clear, fair and significant consequences may include grounding, repaying stolen money, restoring damage etc.
– Teach your child to control their anger productively
– Teach your child good values and behaviours, tell them that their behaviour affects others
– If you find your child bullying someone, ask them to explain their events before turning them in (this is the best way for them to take responsibility)
If your child is being bullied:
– Keep a diary of any injuries, report physical assaults to the school and police
– Monitor your child’s friendships and whereabouts.
FACTS AND STATISTICS
– One student in every four in Australian schools is affected by bullying, says recent research commissioned by the Federal Government
– An estimated 200 million children and youth around the world are being bullied by their peers, according to the 2007 Kandersteg Declaration Against Bullying in Children and Youth
– According to the Centre for Adolescent Health, kids who are bullied are three times more likely to show depressive symptoms
– Children who were bullied were up to nine times more likely to have suicidal thoughts
– Girls who were victims of bullying in their early primary school years were more likely to remain victims as they got older, according to British research
– Girls were much more likely than boys to be victims of both cyber and traditional bullying, says a recent Murdoch Children’s Research Institute study
– Young people who bully have a one in four chance of having a criminal record by the age of 30
– Bullying is the fourth most common reason young people seek help from children’s help services.
– Around the world, more than one in six children are bullied at school, every week. More than one in six employees are bullied at work, and some research suggests that more employees are bullied at work!
– Bullying causes billions of damage to everyone concerned, the target, bully, onlookers, families, school, workplace, employers and the community.
– Bullying causes accumulative layers of primary and secondary injuries. These include physical, psychological, social and identity injuries. It can affect studies, career, relationships and financial wellbeing. It can cause a severe Post-traumatic Stress Disorder, lasting many years.
BEATING THE CYBER BULLIES
What is CYBER BULLYING?
Cyber bullying chases victims onto the Internet – it involves the digital communication (text messages, emails, phone calls, internet chat rooms, instant messages and social media using sights such as Bebo, Facebook and MySpace) to support, deliberate, repeated and hostile behaviour.
While it’s fantastic that technology is evolving, unfortunately bullying is evolving with it which means you can be bullied anywhere, any time – even receiving cruel taunts in the privacy of your own bedroom. Studies show that cyber bullying is on the rise, with one third of teenagers in a recent survey having had mean, threatening or embarrassing things said about them online. Stop Cyber Bullying Day is this Wednesday, 14 November 2012.
What can you do to prevent cyber bullying happening to you?
Tell someone you trust: parent, friend, teacher, school counsellor, neighbour etc.
Block the cyber bully: delete your social media account, or simply empower yourself by blocking the cyber bully. Unsure how? Check with your phone or internet service provider or ask Google.
Report it: Report abuse on Facebook/MySpace, alternatively your ISP or phone provider may help provide a log which you can take to your school, university, place of work or even the police.
Keep the evidence: Keep any texts, emails, online conversations or voicemails as evidence which can help track down the bully. If you’re tempted to look at it, keep a log including the time and date it took place to avoid further torturing yourself.
Change your details: Get a new phone number, a new username for the internet, a new email … and ensure only your closest friends get the new information.
Happiness Weekly’s suggested solution to assist victims of cyber bullying and provide an alternative to bullycide
Now that the internet is becoming more popular, and is certainly a place that bullies turn to in order to further insult and humiliate their victims, more can be done right here – online! And I don’t mean more information and more facts…
A quick Google search retrieves information on schoolyard and workplace bullying. Sprinkled with a few stats and facts – suggesting you are not alone. The fact is anyone who is being bullied – for whatever reason – feels alone. No one can take the sting away, but someone can be there to listen and support those in need.
If Happiness Weekly had the capacity to become an anti-bullying organisation, the first thing I would suggest would be an online support group for those being bullied. That’s right – let’s take some of the people off the phones for Lifeline and sit them on a computer to share advice and help these kids (or adults) without them having to speak a word.
And I’m not talking about a lazy forum with a single moderator – I mean a full on page, where people can INDIVIDUALLY talk to a counsellor they choose in a chat session. FOR FREE! The government should support this – with trained professionals. The aim of the idea is to offer 24 hour support, seven days a week, on an international level.
Making a phone call is powerful, but how many kids refuse to talk? Saying it out loud may mean admitting the problem, it may be failure, it may mean kids won’t seek help. Having somewhere online, where kids can set up an appointment with an expert (possibly via text?), join a chat room or even meet them on MSN Messenger, Windows Live or even Skype and just chat it out for an hour or two – feel validated and then put some positive advice into practice could be what leads to a saved nation.
I admit that I am exceptionally passionate about this idea and that stems from having being bullied. The thing is, I didn’t call a helpline for fear someone would overhear the conversation, leading to further embarrassment – and admitting the problem out loud is also unsettling, while it may be the first step to recovery. Our counselling professionals and specialists need to band together to create a safe-haven online and produce some real-time online support – that way victims will always have someone there for them when they need them without the fear of being overheard.
If such a network existed, there would certainly be a reduction in bullicides. Start locally, if a counsellor, or five, from each state got together, we could start with Australia – with the hope of expanding the movement as a global support hub.
What is often overlooked is that bullying not only affects those who are being traumatised, but also those who are watching on. Such a support group could offer real-time advice to school counsellors out of ideas, or people watching victims who won’t defend themselves.
A lot of bullying has taken to Social Media sites such as Facebook and Twitter, and they need to stand up and take responsibility as well. Why not employ hackers to shut down access from their IP address – or no hackers, just block the IP address from accessing their site anymore. Bullies will get tired of buying new computers eventually! Nip it in the bud! Don’t block an email account, they can easily start a new one and continue their horrible mission… wipe their IP from having access to your system – ever again! People that bully online are not responsible enough to re-join social networking communities.
What do you think? Would it work? Why or why not?
Information and support is also available from the following websites:
Beyondblue – http://www.beyondblue.org.au
Youth Beyondblue – http://www.youthbeyondblue.com
Info Line 1300 22 4636
Sane 1800 187 263
More organisations that recognise bullying as a major problem:
– Happiness Weekly (there’s more practical and beneficial things to do than bullying!)
– World Kindness Australia
– Enough is Enough
– Human Rights Anti Bullying
– Beat bullying
Please remember Bullying Awareness Week starts today and Anti Bullying Week in the UK follows the week after. Donate to the above organisations, spread word about them to friends and colleagues or be proactive this week against bullying!
Please leave your suggestions for how we could be more proactive against bullying below. Alternatively if you are interested in discussing the topic further or need more direct assistance, contact me and I’ll get back to you! Bullycide is completely preventable. Stop bullying.
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