I was bullied a lot when I was young . I remember being in JK and SK, and some kids were calling me fat. In grade two, a few girls teased me by putting grapes down my back when I was not looking. In elementary school, no one picked me to be on their team for sports or in gym class. In grade seven and eight, my teachers told me that I was going to fail gym because I could not perform as well as the other atheletes. In grade eight, a boy who I had a crush on told me that he could never like me because I had 'too big thighs'.
I hate bullying. Why do people (and kids included) have to be so mean? Honestly, why can't we just mind our own business and let people live their lives, without making fun of others? I cannot stand seeing others get bullied. When I volunteer, I try my best to help kids accept one another and to avoid any teasing. Words really do hurt. Sometimes, all it takes is for a mean person to say one thing - one simple word or phrase - and already, someone is hurt inside. And who knows what this can lead to? Stress, eating disorders, pain, poor academic performance, poor relationships, sadness, depression, anxiety, and even suicide. What is even more concerning is that some people are completely unaware that what they are doing or saying is hurting others.
We need to speak out against bullying. Not only is it wrong, but it is also dangerous and simply unacceptable. This is for kids, but also adults. Adults can be bullies, too. They can bully children - for example, teachers who discourage their students or do not stop bullying in the classroom. Adults can even bully their own children by putting too much expectations on them and not rewarding their kids for being good or special. Adults can also bully other adults. I see this all the time, but it is often not recognized as bullying. Why? Because for some reason, we think that adults are too 'old' or mature to bully. But, let's pretend that you are at work and a co-worker is going for a smoke. You decline because you do not drink or smoke. What happens next? This person teases you and goes around telling others how they cannot believe that you are so 'old-fashioned' or 'cautious'. This is bullying. Or what about being left out of an office conversation because your coworkers think that you are too 'religious' or 'innocent'. That is bullying. And as such, it needs to be recognized and addressed.
I wish I had the ultimate solution to bullying. But I don't. No one does. Sure, we can try educating others, including kids and adults, about why bullying is wrong and why we should not engage in this behaviour. But we also need to target other things. We need to look at WHY bullying happens in the first place. Is the bully insecure in some way? Sometimes people bully because they are unhappy with something in themselves, so they take it out on others who may be better than them in this particulat thing. At other times, people bully because they want to feel strong and powerful, or because they want atttention from others. And lastly, someone might not even know that they are being a bully until someone speaks out! So, if you see bullying, try to step out and say something, it is safe to do so. If not, try to find ways to stop the bullying. And lastly, help the victim. People who are bullied can have a lot of emotions going on - anger, hatred, sadness, stress, frustartion, etc. And they need someone.
When I was bullied, I was thrilled when I found someone there to listen. A friend who came by my side and said, 'don't worry about them. You are fine the way you are and they are being bullies'. That made my day. It might not have stopped the bullies, but it made me feel like I was not alone. It made me realize that not everyone is a mean bully. It made me see that when others are being bullied, I should do the same for them. I have felt the pain of bullying - physically, emotionally, socially, and mentally. And it is not a good feeling. So, please, be that one person who helps others deal with bullying. Let this victim know that they are not alone, and that the problem is NOT in them - it is a problem of others, of society, and of the wrold.
Maybe we cannot stop bullying. Maybe we do not have control over the entire world. But we can help to heal the pain that victims feel. We can control the way WE respond to bullies and to others. Because sometimes, all it takes is one stone in the ocean to create a ripple. And that ripple can create other ripples that eventually make waves. And before you know it, that wave has expanded into the entire ocean. Please, be that stone. Start the chain of waves that can change the world. You will be glad you did. And others will too.