There are three people involved in bullying, Who do you relate to?
What does it mean to be a bully? You may have an idea of what it means and by reading this letter, you may think you qualify as one. But, from dealing with bullying for my whole life, I find that most times whenever is confronted, they usually don’t think of themselves as such. And I think I understand why. The word bully has a negative meaning to it, therefore no one wants to be associated with it therefore they dismiss what they do to others as “playing around” or “having fun” I want to immediately refute this idea:
Bullying is making fun of someone because you feel like you can. It could be one time or multiple times, it doesn’t matter-it’s still bullying. But, I want you to know that you are not alone. Just from the definition I provided you, I think most people would qualify as being a bully at least once in their life. Even me, who was bullied and created this anti-bullying program, has been mean to people and in a way been a bully. But, just because you are not alone does not make what you do right. The last thing I want is for you to develop the sheep following the herd mentality, because bullying is not something that should be lead on or encourage. Bullying is something that must be stopped. And the first step to that is you.
YOU can contribute to the solution. You have already taken the first step: acceptance which you have done by reading this letter and understanding you are a bully. But, it doesn’t stop there. Now, you need help in the change. How? It could be a promise to yourself to have empathy and to think before you say something to someone else especially if it is something that you know could cause harm to the person’s self esteem. Or it could be that instead of lashing out if someone makes you angry, to instead keep calm and tell a trusted adult. Encourage other bullies to change their ways as well. There are countless of ways to take action towards change and you can use mines or come up with some of your own. And although you can’t change your past, you taking action now is changing your future for the better. So go out there make change, encourage your friends, or even create your own anti-bullying seminars. And when you are doing this, remember that what you are doing is good and so helpful.
You are not alone. You do not need to feel ashamed or embarrassed. Being a victim of bullying is not your fault. It never was. I want to personally apologize that you had to go through it or are still going through it. But, I want to tell you this and it’s important: there is help out there and it is ok to receive it.
Don’t think you are weak or lame to ask for help, because you are not. Bullying is not a natural thing, and it should not be treated as such. Therefore, if you feel like you are not able to deal with it yourself, then reach out for help. Because out of those few people who wish to ruin your day and make you feel miserable, there are countless of others who will be there to help. So think about it this way: Are those few people really worth your day being ruined? You only have ONE life to live, so don’t let these few people ruin even one day. They are not worth it and they will never be worth it.
Your present does not affect your future, because your future is filled with endless opportunities. But, I will be honest, as a victim of bullying, I know it can still have it hold on you long after you have conquered it. For me, sometimes I will remember a mean thing someone said about years ago. Because the truth is: compliments last in the mind, but insults last in the soul. That is the case for me where I can remember more insults said towards me then complaints. In truth, it is difficult to deal with, but it is not impossible to overcome. Whenever I remember an insult, I try to remind myself how far I have come from being a shy, sensitive bullied eight year old to the strong confident seventeen year old I am today.
Progress is a journey, and when looking at mine one word comes to mind: proud. I am proud of how much I have overcome, I am proud that I am able to brush off insults thrown my way today easily, and I am most proud that instead of dwelling on my past, I am using it to help others through this program. Find what makes you proud and use it as a weapon to fight off bullies and take back control. Remember that you are worth it and your happiness above all it worth it. And if ever feel alone, know you can contact me and I’ll be here. You always have a friend in me.
See something, say something. It is as simple as that and yet, I have a feeling you may be scared. I know you may be labeled a snitch. But at the end of the day, who cares? Because I can assure you right now, you shouldn’t especially if you are snitching on a bully in order to help a victim.
Telling a trusted adult is the right thing to do and although it may not feel like that immediately, know that it is. Because by telling someone, you are not only helping the victim but also the bully. You are helping the victim receive help when they may have been too afraid to receive it themselves. You have helped the bully understand that they are being a bully and hopefully start the process towards change.
By simply telling, you have changed your status from being a bystander to being a action-taker, and you are one of the few. I know this because I have seen it first hand; how people will join in the bullying instead of ending it. It is very easy to do, but by taking action you are taking the hard, but necessary step of straying from the crowd. And that doesn’t make you are snitch or lame or a loser, that makes you are a hero to me and all of the 3.4 million children facing bullying at this moment. But,even though telling a trusted adult should be #1, there are many ways to go about making change like comforting the victim yourself and becoming their friend. You have so much power in changing the situation, don’t let a few negative people stop you from using it.
Teachers and Facilitators
If you witness bullying in your classroom, it is important that you don’t ignore, but it is also important that you approach the situation carefully and strategically. Follow these steps below:
Recognize if it is bullying and distinguish who is the bully and the victim. Signs of bullying include: Sudden emotional reactions, withdrawn or depressed, etc.
Based on the personality of the victim, it may be best to have help when approaching them head on. In some situations, the victim and the bully may shut down or be uncooperative when being approached by the situation. It may have to do more so with your status as a teacher and the fact that by trying to help, you are also intruding into their personal lives outside of school. Therefore, it may be wise to ask the friend of the victim, or the parent for help but also to advise them to go about the situation in the way they deem most helpful for the victim.
After helping the victim, do the same steps towards the victim, trying to make them see the wrong in their ways. If you don’t believe to be the best medium to reach and change the bully’s mindset, then just as the victim, find someone else you believe to do it better.
If the situation worsens, reach out to the proper authorities.
Here are Links to Sites That May Help With This Process