Today, I want to share a guest post I once penned for author Rebecca Hamilton's "Books Against Bullying" campaign.
When I sat down to write this post, it didn’t take much thought at all to realize that there was probably nothing I could say about bullying that hadn’t already been said—and in far better ways. Still, that didn’t seem like a good enough reason not to say anything at all, so here I am.
I’ve never been bullied. Oh, as with most people, I’ve been picked on, teased, or just plain messed around with at one point in time or the other. But it was never anything like the horrific, tragic stories of bullying that we seem to hear with increasing frequency these days.
It’s easy to brush off the increased exposure of this issue as typical over-dramatization of the media or as a “flavor of the week” scenario or even as a by-product of social media’s reach … but it isn’t. For some reason, the interactions among our younger generations have taken a dark and disturbing turn.
As if the process of growing up wasn’t hard enough to begin with …
Now, I realize that I can lament our inhumanity to each other—whether in the schoolyards around the country or even in just about any other setting I can think of—until I’m blue in the face, and it won’t change anything. Neither will an endless barrage of rhetoric.
What will change the situation are efforts like this campaign. Raising awareness. Shining a spotlight on the problem and refusing to turn it off until that problem has been eliminated. And feeding bullies a steady diet of effective interventions.
I don’t prescribe to the old theory that says standing up to bullies is the best way to stop bullying. I think it’s more likely a recipe for disaster, in the form of escalated hostilities, than it is an effective problem-solving technique—especially when the person standing up to a bully (or bullies) usually does so on his/her own. This may work great on television shows, but not in reality.
So, to anyone being bullied, I offer this suggestion:
Tell people about the bullying. Tell anyone and everyone who will listen. I know it’s difficult, unfair even, to expect the person being victimized to also be the one who speaks out against it … but you must. Unfortunately, silence allows, and encourages, a bully to continue.
So, don’t be silent about the situation. Tell the people you’re closest to, of course—friends, siblings, etc.—but, most importantly, tell people who have the ability and/or the authority to intervene: parents, teachers, professors, coaches, counsellors, religious leaders, community leaders, bosses, the police. Anyone who might be in a position to help.
And don’t stop sharing just because you tell one of these people your story—even if he/she promises to intervene. Let’s face it; although many people aren’t very good at listening, listening is easy … while choosing to become involved in an uncomfortable situation can be very difficult.
So, don’t stop sharing your story until the bullying has been stopped and you are safe. You owe it to yourself. There are people who can (and will) help you. The number grows every day. Efforts like this Books Against Bullying Campaign—which I am proud to support—will continue spreading the word and helping that number grow.
Together, we will bring an end to bullying.
Posted on Thu, January 23, 2014
by Thomas Winship filed under