Has anyone ever intimidated you? Or made you feel less than them? Have you ever been embarrassed in public or in cyberspace? Has bullying made you or your child hate school or themselves? It’s time to take a new approach to this epidemic…
It’s about retaining self-respect, learning tolerance, asking for help, and feeling safe again – stop standing by and start standing up.
The effects of bullying CAN be stopped. One person at a time.
Becoming BULLY PROOF.
In dealing with bullying, illustrating the effects of bullying and allowing the children to empathise with the bullied, is a far more effective teaching tool than a mere “Don’t do this” or “Stop that”.
An example of illustrating the effects of bullying through rugby is playing a simple game of four kids passing a rugby ball, where three kids are told not to pass to the fourth: After 5min we then ask the kids if they have enjoyed the game: Three have and the fourth replies no, on the grounds that he/she was left out.
Once this has been internalised by the child one can begin to discuss the effects on how that made him/her feel, and hence illustrate what a kid feels when you merely exclude him/her.
There are many ways of illustration we utilise to show the effects of bullying to kids, each targeting a different form of bullying.
In this new approach to dealing with the epidemic of bullying, rather than attacking bullying and bullies as the problem, we look to cut bullying and bullies off at the knees, by removing the power the effects afford them.
Removing this power is achieved through equipping children with a mindset and tools to protect themselves against this abuse and these abusers. This mindset further allows friends and peers to stand together and not merely stand by, and say:
“I don’t like what you’re doing to me and my friends”
Taking back this power from bullies is empowering in itself and helps reinforce confidence and self esteem. It’s now less about being a victim, and more about having a choice to give a bully power over you .
“Bullying is a weak persons imitation of strength” – Anon
Bystanders also have the power to play a key role in preventing or stopping bullying.
Bullying situations usually involve more than the bully and the victim. They also involve bystanders—those who watch bullying happen or hear about it.
An important new strategy for Bully Proofing children focuses on the powerful role of the bystander. Depending on how bystanders respond, they can either contribute to the problem or the solution. Bystanders rarely play a completely neutral role, although they may think they do.
With three main bystander groups being Hurtful Bystanders, Helpful Bystanders, and Neutral Bystanders often without realizing it, one often forgets that these bystanders also contribute to the problem, where passive bystanders provide the audience a bully craves and the silent acceptance that allows bullies to continue their hurtful behaviour.
It is important to prepare children to become helpful bystanders by discussing with them the different ways bystanders can make a difference, and by letting them know that adults/teachers/peers will support them, if and when they step forward.
This support structure for helpful bystanders is imperative, as there is a fine line between a helpful bystander and a “Tattletale” or “GoodyTwo-Shoes” to children, and where standing up should be rewarded, social and peer ridicule is currently inevitable when doing the “right thing”, making the bystander a victim of bullying.
It is the school/parent/teacher who needs to support helpful bystanders, reaffirming the acceptable and highly courageous act of standing up to bullying, standing by a friend, being a modern-day hero.
“Build me up and I with you. For we are more one than two.”
― Deborah Day