Bullying can range from name calling to physical intimidation, and it can happen amongst anyone. It can even take place online in the form of cyberbullying. No matter where it's happening, bullying can be extremely hurtful for the person experiencing it. Being bullied is not easy to cope with and there are no simple solutions; it is not something that can be stopped with the click of a button. So how do we raise awareness and stand up to bullying?
Talking about what bullying is can help a lot of us understand the many forms it takes.. You may notice that something isn't right when one of your peers / classmates is saying mean things or taking unkind actions – sometimes this can feel like banter which you might not identify as bullying because it feels normal to you. Bullying can come in all sorts of forms: name calling, spreading rumours, violence, harmful jokes, taking unwanted photographs, sharing information online without consent and other types of unwanted aggressive behaviours are completely unacceptable, and once identified need to be addressed.
A common misconception that many young people have is the idea that telling on one of your peers for bullying, is wrong. However, it can’t be stressed enough the importance of talking and reaching out to a member of staff or a teacher, or trusted adult* about bullying when you see it or experience it. In the academy setting, there are student anti-bullying ambassadors who’s goal it is to end harmful behaviour and create a supportive, inclusive learning environment. Once someone knows about it, something can be done to encourage it to end. Making others who can help aware of the situation will take power from the bully and provide a positive opportunity for the negative behaviour to stop.
Victims of bullies may feel scared to stand up for themselves; this is not abnormal. Bullies often do not expect someone to stand up to them. Violent retaliation is never the answer but instead, a confident and cool-headed response could de-escalate the confrontation and be an effective method of ending the bullying behaviour. This also applies to a peer, friend or colleague. If you see them being bullied, stand tall and confident alongside them showing support and disarming the bully.
Whether it’s in school, at home, in the community or online, let’s reach out and show each other the support we need. Reach out to someone you trust if you need to talk. Reach out to someone you know is being bullied and offer friendly support. Reach out and consider a new approach. Together we can be the change we want to see. It takes courage but it can change lives.
*We understand this might be hard and require some bravery, but we are all here to listen and to help. There are also a number of professionals you can go to outside of school too including:
NSPCC – 0808 800 5000