Bullying is an undeniable, unfortunate fact of life. We are either victims of it, witness it or forgive me for saying it, maybe even a participant.
It is a mean, arrogant and despicable practice. Bullying practices can end in hatred and racism. And unfortunately, the digital age, which has brought us many technological benefits, has given us cyber bullying. A thoughtless comment, post, or insinuation can leave as much pain as a push in the classroom or a bump on the playground.
October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month. This is the appropriate time to have a conversation with your children and teens. Explain what bullying is and why it's despicable behavior. And try to discern whether they have been a victim.
Visit www.stompoutbullying.org for helpful tips. Share them with your children. They include:
- If you've ever felt isolated from others at school or you were new at school, and it took time to make friends, you know what it feels like to be left out. Or even if you were never isolated, imagine how it would feel.
- Make friends with someone at school who you don't know. You probably wish someone had done that for you.
- When you see someone being bullied, be brave and STAND UP for them. Bullies have been known to back off when others stand up for victims.
- If you don't feel safe, get the help of an adult immediately. Be part of the solution -- not the problem!
Bullying has a profound effect on children. Is there an adult who experienced bullying as a child and doesn't remember the incident (or incidents) and the bully?
Step in now. Protect your child.
We've heard it before, but it's worth repeating. Anyone can be a victim.
I urge you to watch this video of Jonotthan Harrison of the New York Jets and STOMP Out Bullying's global ambassador. Watch it at https://bit.ly/2Gp4BL0. You'll learn that even a remarkably tough, imposing athlete isn't immune.
It all begins with a conversation with your child, and if they're unable or unwilling to convey what is occurring, visit the stompoutbullying.org website. According to a teacher friend, if your child is a victim, they should report it to a teacher. If your child is unwilling to do so, you should report it directly to the school principal.
While we focus on children when discussing bullying — and rightfully so, they are the most vulnerable — let's not forget this practice extends to the workplace. My friend just completed a book on martial arts and wrote about bullying in the workplace. It might not be physical bullying, but beating up on someone mentally or verbally creates the same pain, discomfort and fear.
According to the 2017 Workplace Bullying Survey:
- 19% of workers suffered abusive conduct at work.
- 19% have witnessed it.
- 63% recognize that workplace bullying occurs.
If you are a victim of workplace bullying, visit the Workplace Bullying Institute. If you see it happening to someone else, share the website with them. It's a practical step in the right direction.
Is there a simple answer to stop bullying? Unfortunately, there isn't. But one of the themes at stompoutbullying.org is to replace bullying with kindness. I can't think of a better starting point.
That's my take, what's yours?