ARTICLES, WHAT IS BULLYING? HOW TO STOP KIDS BULLYING NOW
The B’s of Bullying
Whether you are a bully, bystander, or someone who has been bullied, your behaviours are beacons, sending signals that need immediate attention!
The behaviours of each person involved in a bullying situation will tell us what we need to know. It is important to know what you are looking for and to know what to do with what you find.
It has been far too easy to focus on blaming, shaming, and changing actions of targets and bystanders of bullying. Far too often, parents, teachers, principals, and many others shine a light on a person’s inability to stand up, speak out, report the abuse or worse yet – fight back. When we accuse a target of bullying of ‘egging a bully on’, we are ignoring the signals that are beacons of more dangers ahead. This lack of action can enable abusive behaviours to continue and possibly escalate. This lack of support has left many families feeling hopeless, switching schools, and/or moving to a new place of residence.
We are missing the most obvious signals!
Taunting, oppressing, threatening, demeaning, humiliating, and sabotaging behaviours are like flashing red lights over the offender’s head. Our immediate attention to these behaviours is critical!
Bullying is far more complex in today’s society. It is not a personality conflict or playground teasing. There is never just one reason, one story, or one solution when it comes to bullying. Each person will bring personal influences into the experience of bullying. For example:
- The bully might be the target of bullying or another form of abuse somewhere else in their life. Perhaps a family member or neighbour has been tormenting him/her. In order to find control and feel powerful, they may turn to bullying others.
- The target of bullying may have a family member who is ill or maybe their parents are going through a divorce. This will add to their feelings of loss or helplessness and leave them unable to take a stand.
- The bystander might have been the target of bullying in the past and are fearful that they will be again. Their fear leaves them speechless and refusing to get involved.
- As for adults, some of the parents, teachers, principals or other adults involved may have been bullied when they were children. Or perhaps they are being bullied in their workplaces right now. This can influence and complicate how adults react to children who bully, those who are bullied, and their bystanders.
A professional with an expertise in this area must be involved when cases are reported. Otherwise, we place children and others at risk of further harm.
How can you help? Parents can insist that their children’s schools implement anti-bullying policies. Don’t give up until you are heard; your children need your voice on this matter. Schools need to include regular bullying awareness programs for students, staff, and parents. Parents can also invite anti-bullying professionals to teach workshops in their community leagues or workplaces. Please do not wait for others to take a stand.
Nothing changes until we remove our assumptions and judgments and see the entire picture… and really listen. Thankfully, we now have many anti-bullying resources that will teach us about the signs, tactics, risk factors, prevention, and interventions of bullying.
“We do not need to shame, blame, or frame children who bully. For the sake of those they bully, we need to help them heal. Being shy or sensitive is human and are excellent qualities to be proud of.”
What we are missing is information about what to do next. What are the deeper issues causing this abuse in the first place? How do we change things permanently if we are not getting to the bottom of the problem? We must provide safe, confidential, supportive resources for healing all parties. Without healing or recovery, those affected by bullying are at a higher risk of falling into a cycle of abuse.
Break the cycle of bullying by addressing beacons of behaviours. These are symptoms that need our immediate attention.
Linda Crockett, presenter and therapist for those affected by bullying.