WE ARE NOT POWERLESS AGAINST THOSE WHO TORMENT US
There is a difference between bullying and teasing. Frequent harassment in a harmful manner leads to bullying. It can make our lives difficult regardless of the age at which we are facing it; whether we are students or working professionals. We may not agree, but bullying is harmful and sometimes even dangerous.
That’s the reason we should never sit by and tolerate it. We all deserve to be happy and free.
Here are some of the options available to us to counter bullies:
1) Ignore them
The very first option we can use is to ignore them up to a certain point. Remember, their main aim is to upset us and provoke us. If we don’t give them any scope for getting to us, they probably can’t. The main reason for bullying is for the bullies to make themselves look and/or feel powerful. They want us to cry, yell, look sad; maybe to an extent that we hate ourselves.
According to a meta-analysis found by Gini and Espelage (2014), students facing peer victimization are 2.2 times more likely to have suicide ideation and 2.6 times more likely to attempt suicide than students not facing victimization.
If we don’t react, they might get bored and move on. Sometimes just being brave is enough to stop a bully from approaching us. Standing tall and holding our heads high will make them believe that we are not afraid of them.
One way of thinking about this is: Imagine the bully as a 2-year-old child. We often ignore 2-year-olds when they’re calling us names. We don’t see them as a threat as we know that they’re naive. We can opt for this approach if the bullying is verbal and within certain limits. If the bullying is physical or damaging our well-being, we will surely have to take a firm stand and fight back with other options available.
2) Telling an authority
We often feel shy or ashamed to tell others that we are bullied. We should not feel embarrassed by bullying as we are not the ones at fault. At these times we should approach a counsellor, teacher, parents and explain the situation. If it's not comfortable to tell an authority, let's tell our parents first. They will inform an authority or teacher. But remember, it is important that the school or organization comes to know about it as they are the ones who can take action against the bully and provide us protection.
We can approach the authority in private and explain the situation. It is important that we convey clearly and firmly that the situation is harming us and is unacceptable, for them to understand the seriousness of the issue.
Also, it often happens that, the bullies themselves will complain against us. It is better to pre-empt such a situation by letting the elders or authorities know what’s going on.
3) Denying strongly
It is very difficult to get a bully to stop, especially if the bullying has been going on for long. But it’s important. We can make the bullies realize that it is enough now and they should stop. Standing up tall and saying “no” with confidence, will make them realize that they have lost power on us. If possible, we can also seek support from friends and colleagues. Sometimes it happens that the bullies or our friends do not understand the gravity of the situation and interpret the bullying as ‘fun’. By fighting back, there is no scope for misunderstanding, or for the bully to claim that they were just being ‘funny’ or ‘harmless’.
4) Making the organization bullying-free
Together we can stop bullies. Let's get everyone on board. Everyone including teachers, administrators, students, colleagues and whoever is part of the organization. We can request for or even ourselves help conduct an anti-bullying program. Support the bullied children or adults. By trying to help others, we can help ourselves and prevent others from facing a similar situation.
Rules about bullying and its consequences should be discussed and posted publicly in the school and organization, sent home to parents and put in community newspapers and noticeboards to create universal awareness about the issue. This will begin the process of large-scale transformation.
Bullying is never fun, it's a cruel and terrible thing to do to someone. If you are being bullied, it is not your fault. No one deserves to be bullied, ever.
- Raini Rodriguez