Every October, schools and organisations across the country join STOMP Out Bullying™ in observing National Bullying Prevention Month. The goal is to encourage schools, communities and organisations to work together to stop bullying and put an end to hatred and racism by increasing awareness of the prevalence and impact of all forms of bullying. We believe that this is an issue that we as a society need to address to create maximum awareness about the same. Silence is not the answer. It never is. The day we stand up for each other, we will understand and live by the true essence of humanity.
It was Sunday morning, and I had gone out on my usual run. As I was heading home, I saw a bunch of boys, ganging up against a boy who looked timid and comparatively younger to them. From what I could gauge from the situation, it was his birthday, and they were planning on smearing a birthday cake all over his face. As they were about to commence their plan, the boy was repeatedly yelling at them, telling them to stop. A few people on the road immediately came to rescue the boy and to tell the guys to let him be.
As I reached home, I couldn’t help but pose questions as to why such events happen? What drives people to hurt others? What do we need to do, to stop such events from taking place? I needed answers, and I am writing this blog, hoping to share them with you to help make a difference in any way possible.
What is Bullying?
Bullying is when someone repeatedly and on purpose says or does mean or hurtful things to another person who has a hard time defending himself/herself. Bullying can involve verbal attacks (name-calling and making fun of others) as well as physical ones, threats of harm, other forms of intimidation, and deliberate exclusion from activities. Studies indicate that bullying peaks around ages 11 to 13 and decreases as children grow older. Overt physical aggression such as kicking, hitting, and shoving is most common among younger children; relational aggression—damaging or manipulating the relationships of others, such as spreading rumours, and social exclusion—is more common as children mature.
Twenty-eight per cent of young people from grades six through 12 have been the victim of bullying. People usually think of bullying as taking place between children at school. However, it can also occur at work and include aggressive behaviours like verbal abuse, sabotaging the victim’s job or work relationship, or misusing authority. We sometimes tend to confuse meanness with bullying. The most prominent factor that separates the two is that a bully considers the victim to be weak and hence exploits him/her. In contrast, hazing is part of the initiation of the victim into a group, and meanness does not involve an imbalance of power. However, to identify bullying, it is necessary to know the forms in which it can take place.
There are at least four types of bullying:
- Physical bullyingPhysical bullying includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching, pushing or damaging property. Physical bullying causes both short term and long term damage.
- Verbal bullyingVerbal bullying includes name-calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse. The misinterpretation of verbal bullying to be a mere act of meanness is very common. However, that is not the case, and we must be able to differentiate between the two.
- Social bullyingSocial bullying, sometimes referred to as covert bullying, is often harder to recognise and can be carried out behind the bullied person’s back. The motive is mostly to harm someone’s social reputation or cause humiliation.
Social bullying can include:
– Lying and spreading rumours
– Facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks
– Playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate
– Encouraging others to exclude someone
- CyberbullyingThe Cyberbullying Research Centre defines cyberbullying as intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, phones, and other electronic devices.
Cyberbullying can be overt or covert. It includes using digital technologies such as computers and smartphones, social media, instant messaging, texts, websites and other online platforms.
Cyberbullying can happen at any time. It can be in public or in private and sometimes only known to the target and the person bullying. Cyberbullying can include:
– Abusive or hurtful texts, emails, posts, images or videos
– Deliberately, excluding others online.
– Spreading nasty gossip or rumours
– Copying someone by stealing their identity
Why do people bully others?
Bullying is the result of the bully’s need to get and keep control over someone else. The aggression that is involved in bullying interferes with the empathy needed to refrain from bullying others.
There are different reasons why people bully, including:
– Wanting to dominate others and the assumption that it improve their social status
– Having low self-esteem
– Having a lack of remorse or failing to recognise their behaviour as a problem
– Feeling angry or frustrated
– Struggling socially
– Being the victim of bullying themselves
Bullies are also more likely to have lifelong issues such as depression or problems with aggression. But early treatment can prevent this from happening. We must take these issues seriously without ignoring the repercussions. If anyone around us is acting out and is trying to inflict pain upon others, then we should try to make sure that they receive the help they need.
What are the warning signs of Bullying?
As we are aware that bullying is common, especially among school-going children, some adults also face bullying. Here are a few warning signs that we should look out for so that we can be of help.
– If a child is losing their belongings
– Difficulty sleeping or having nightmares & unexplained fears.
– If a child isn’t attending classes or lectures and has become socially isolated.
– An adult or a child who is a victim of bullying may experience psychological trauma like depression or anxiety due to stress, helplessness, etc.
– Irritability and frustration
– A drop in academics/work performance can also be a sign.
What are the effects of bullying?
Bullying can cause significantly serious problems. Teenagers who bully others are at a greater risk of portraying unacceptable behaviours and vandalism themselves. They are also at risk of substance abuse and dropping out of school. Victims of these behaviours also tend to develop or increase their severity of anxiety and depression. They become anti-social and under-confident in their adulthood. Bullys, on the other hand, may end up having financial or physical issues, social issues, etc. Victims of workplace bullying may suffer from reduced job performance, more absences, and less work satisfaction. Ultimately, bullying may be the cause of higher staff turnover. People who are both victims and perpetrators of bullying seem to be more vulnerable to experiencing both internalising (for example, loneliness, depression, and anxiety) and externalising (for example, antisocial) symptoms.
Organisations working for the cause:
1.Bully No More
Bully No More is an anti-bullying campaign created by Amnesty International India under its Human Rights Education programme, which aims to put an end to bullying. They are working towards creating awareness about the same through their original resources.
Phone : +91 (080) 49388000
E-Mail ID: firstname.lastname@example.org
CyberB.A.A.P. is here to help and guide you to report the cases of cyberbullying. This organisation allows the victim to register an online complaint at http://www.cybercrime.gov.in/ and seek help.
3.Born This Way Foundation
(Sometimes abbreviated as BTWF) is a non-profit organisation founded in 2012 by American artist and activist Lady Gaga and her mother, Cynthia. Named after the singer’s album Born this way (2011), the foundation is committed to supporting the wellness of young people and working with them to “make the world kinder and braver”.
The Foundation prioritises the mental health and wellness of young people by working to promote kindness, open and honest conversations about mental health, validating the emotions of young people, and eradicating the stigma around mental health.
It is an anti-bullying organisation founded in 2014 by a billionaire, author, and parent Mackenzie Bezos in the USA.
Bystander Revolution offers advice about simple things individuals can do to defuse bullying. Bystander Revolution’s website is an online resource that includes hundreds of unscripted videos featuring celebrities, students, experts, and others talking about their personal experiences with bullying.
These organisations prove to us, that help is out there and there is absolutely no need to suffer in silence. Today is the right time to speak up for yourself or for anyone who may be in pain. If you’re in emotional distress and don’t know who you can reach out, please do check out the Emergency contact list and call a helpline.
Why do we need to stop bullying?
Bullying has been an exceeding issue for years. The main reason why we need to stop bullying is because it not only takes a toll on the victim but also the people surrounding the victim. Bullying is a huge problem that we haven’t been able to stop. Every year, so many children get bullied at school. If we take a stand against bullying and not encourage it, I believe that we can put an end to it! We are living in a world that needs compassion and empathy. If we reach out to others with kindness, we will be able to spread joy and create a better environment. We will be able to save lives by just having simple conversations about what we are going through. Bullying is not okay but not standing up for each other is unacceptable. Before I conclude, I would like to share a song that I recently came across. I hope these lines inspire you every single day, to be benevolent, to be a better individual and to make a change.
Song- Less of Me by Glen Campbell
Let me be a little kinder, let me be a little blinder
To the faults of those about me. Let me praise a little more.
Let me be when I am weary just a little bit more cheery,
Think a little more of others and a little less of me.
Let me be a little braver when temptation bids me waver.
Let me strive a little harder to be all that I should be.
Let me be a little meeker with the brother that is weaker.
Let me think more of my neighbor and a little less of me.
About the Author
Avani AP Khare is a 17-year-old student from Pune. She is currently pursuing Humanities and wishes to major in psychology. She loves to write blogs, articles and poems. She is an intern at Speaking Grey and takes great interest in mental health-related issues.