Bullying

"I can't make it stop!"

 

What is Bullying?

 

Bullying is any form of aggression towards another person. Bullying can occur in different forms:

*physical (e.g., hitting, pushing, tripping)

*verbal (e.g., name calling, insults, put-downs)

*social (e.g., social isolation/exclusion, spreading rumors)

*cyber (e.g., threats or insults spread through internet i.e. Facebook, Springform, Twitter), or by cell phone through text messaging or calls.

 

School bullies typically watch out for situations in which they know they can get away with bullying behavior. Some bullies have been targets of bullying themselves. They target other children or youth who seem unlikely to defend themselves or be protected by others.  They usually choose places where there is not enough adult supervision or when youth are on their own in bathrooms, halls or after school. But, more times than not, there are other students around who witness bullying take place.

 

Children and youth who witness a bullying act, or “bystanders”, can choose to either encourage the bullies, defend the victims, tell an adult, or do nothing at all. Bystanders often have the power to make a bullying situation better, but many choose not to get involved out of fear of what will happen to them.

 

Without help, victims of repeated bullying are often lonely, unhappy, and depressed for many years after the bullying has started. 

Should I Be Worried?

If you are being bullied, you should speak to a caring adult in your school, especially if you are experiencing the following:

  • Not talking to your friends or others
  • Feeling afraid to be alone
  • Headaches, stomach aches, etc.
  • Feeling sad, moody or irritable, particularly after coming home from school.
  • Afraid to tell anyone what has happened or identify the bully/bullies for fear of it getting worse
  • Starting to behave aggressively yourself towards others (friends, family and even bullies)
  • Not wanting to go to school anymore
  • Not wanting to go on the internet anymore

It is important to speak to your parents or guardians about the bullying incidents so they can support you and ask the school to come up with a plan to help you deal with the situation. Remember  that your parents and school staff may have noticed changes in you and may already be concerned about you, so when they offer to help you, take them up on it.

 

Bullying in Schools: LGBT youth at even higher risk

While trying to deal with all the challenges of being a teenager, gay/ lesbian/ bisexual/ transgender (LGBT) teens may also deal with harassment, threats, and violence directed at them on a daily basis. They may be called names, isolated, stereotyped, or attacked verbally and physically. Because of this, the mental/physical health and education of LGBT teens are at-risk.

Some people may think that being LGBT is a problem, but there is nothing wrong with teens who identify as LGBT—being treated differently and unfairly because of their orientation is the real problem. LGBT teens may be at higher risk because their distress is a direct result of the hatred and prejudice that they see and experience in their daily lives. Gay lesbian, and bisexual youth are 2 to 3 times more likely to attempt suicide than heterosexual youth.

 

Tips for Prevention and Wellness

Bullying is hard for a person to stop on their own, because victims of bullies often feel powerless and unsupported by others. If you are the victim of bullying, the first step is to talk to someone. Talk to your parents, school counselor, and your friends. They can help you make a plan to keep you safe and stop the bullies in their tracks. Research shows that  children and youth who report bullying to an adult are less likely to experience bullying in the future. 

You can also try some of the following strategies to take away the power that bullies seem to have over you:

1.) Walk and speak with confidence: hold your head up high and try not to look afraid, even if you are feeling afraid on the inside. Bullies target people who look like they lack confidence and assertiveness. If you look like you won’t take their bullying anymore, they may stop targeting you.

 

2.) Bullies are looking from a response from you, like fear, upset, or avoidance. Surprise them by ignoring them, saying something sarcastic, or telling them that they are not affecting you (e.g. “Is that the best that you can come up with?”; “Is that supposed to bother me?”, etc). If bullies get no response from their victims, they often will eventually stop targeting them.

 

3.) Don’t try to “bully back”. Bullies may be looking for a fight from you, so don’t give it to them.

 

4.) Report inappropriate comments, threats, and other concerning messages sent to you over the internet or cell phone. Block the person, report it to the network, or tell an adult you trust at school who can address the problem.

 

If you are not the victim of bullying but know someone who is, there are things you can do too:

 

1.) Report the bullying, even if your friend asks you not to. Everyone has the right to feel safe at school, and you should not stand by and watch your friend be hurt.

 

2.) There is power in numbers. Recruit your friends to help support and protect the person who is being bullied.  Speak out and tell the bullies to stop what they are doing.

 

3.) Ask to form or be a part of an anti-bullying committee at your school. You can help yourself and other students learn how to stop bullying in your school by being someone who does something to help.

 

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