Bullying has made life a misery for countless people and we all too often hear of tragic cases where people have taken their own life because of bullying. Bullying is a complex social problem that is being increasingly recognised, studied and dealt with. You, and those you love, should never have to put up with being bullied. Start your self-help journey here, with our guide.
WHAT IS BULLYING?
We all know about the playground bully who terrorized smaller children, pulling their hair and tripping them up. Some bullies are even worse, gathering a gang around them, lying in wait for their victim and causing real fear and hurt. These days the most common form of bullying is the on-line sort, called cyber-bullying, which has made life misery for so many young people.
However, bullying can take other forms and some are quite subtle and even sinister. It’s common in the workplace, and anywhere human beings work, socialize and compete. It may show as sneers, put-downs, poking fun and all forms of undermining. Usually it involves a group – the bully finds followers, or people who collude and comply, so disempowering the victim even more.
Being bullied is horrible because it awakens deep terrors in your mind that we have inherited from tribal times. If you didn’t fit in and the tribe rejected you, you died. It also plays hell with your self-esteem, bringing you to rock bottom. Don’t let the bullies win – understand, empower yourself and fight back.
WHAT MAKES A PERSON A BULLY?
Bullies aren’t the ultra-strong creatures they like to appear. They are weak, insecure people who big themselves up through making others feel small. They may also have a sadistic streak. Enjoying the pain of others is sick, so true bullies are actually people who need help themselves.
Often bullies will have a cluster of supporters. This may be for a variety of reasons. These people could be afraid if they don’t comply they will be a target, or they may simply want to be part of a gang. These are weak characters, or people who are going through a vulnerable phase. There is nothing ‘superior’ about them.
WHAT MAKES A PERSON A TARGET?
Maybe you are different in some way – remember bullies are often jealous and if you’re clever and good-looking they may want to bring you down! Possibly you project an air of uncertainty and anxiety, which makes the bullies think they can succeed, or you may be disabled or ‘abnormal’.
Your self-esteem may be low, and this may show, or you could be socially isolated, maybe because you’re a newbie, introverted or just not been able to find kindred spirits to surround you. You may simply be very kind and nice, so the bully knows they can get away with it. Any or all of these things can attract a bully.
SO DEAL WITH IT
Never let bullying go on for very long. It’s very easy to tell yourself you’re being over-sensitive, weak, over-imaginative or stupid – that’s one of the effects of bullying and a sure sign you are being bullied!
- Seek out people and activities that raise your self-esteem.
- Walk and carry yourself upright, with a posture that projects confidence
- In many situations it can work to call the bully’s bluff, maybe by looking them in the eye and saying something firm but not unpleasant, like ‘I know what you’re doing, just stop it’
- Do not hesitate to get help. Most bullies are paper tigers but some can be truly vicious and there are no prizes for playing the hero
- Get some therapy. You need to boost your self-esteem and understand what’s going on
- If you are part of an organization, tell the powers that be. This should work in school if it’s your child who’s involved. If it’s your workplace it may, of course, be your boss that’s the bully. Apply common sense and report bullying if this is at all viable
- Vote with your feet. If you can get out of the situation, leave. That’s not weakness, and to believe so is just to play into the hands of the bullies. Life is about choosing your battles and sometimes you’re simply better off elsewhere
- If your child is being bullied, always encourage them to talk
- Boost the self-esteem of any bullying victim by support, understanding, encouragement and compliments
- Be respectful and tolerant as a role model and to up your own self-respect. Healthy social interactions and responsible use of power are antidotes to bullying
- Encourage your child to be sociable, kind and cooperative. If your child is introvert, that’s fine, but they can still be empathic and pleasant. Having friends discourages bullying
- Discuss cyberbullying with your child and set boundaries
- If you know your child is being bullied, establish as much of a presence at the school as you can. If your child feels protected now they will be more able to protect themselves when older
- Always talk openly about bullying. The shame that bullying engenders is all part of the cycle of intimidation. Break this by clarity, good information and appropriate action
HOW WE CAN HELP
Now you have a clearer idea of what bullying is, what makes a bully and their victim and how to deal with bullying. You now have many tools to defuse this problem, both for yourself and someone you love.
PUBLISHED: 11 January 2018