Being bullied is NOT YOUR FAULT!
Let’s address that elephant in the room early. You’re being bullied. It doesn’t really matter if it’s online, over text message or email, or in the street. IT IS NOT RIGHT! You do not have to stand for it, and you certainly shouldn’t ignore it, but you are not alone and it can get better.
So, what is bullying?
The definition of a bully is “someone who hurts or frightens someone else, often over a period of time, and often forcing them to do something that they do not want to do”
I will simplify it. If someone is making you feel scared, intimidated, or makes you feel like you want to change what you do in your every day life to avoid them, their probably a bully.
If someone is attempting to cause you physical harm with no known reason, they’re most likely bully.
If someone is making you do things you do not want to do, (and we’re not talking your parents making you do chores here), it’s a form of bullying.
It doesn’t matter if this is in the school playground, down the football field, over WhatsApp, on Facebook, it’s all the same.
Oh, How Times Have Changed!
So what’s different now? How has this changed. Well, you lovely people have a much harder job, to be fair.
Once upon a time, in a time not all that far away, there was no internet or mobile telephones. There were several groups of school children who would knock each other doors and ask their friend’s parents whether or not that friend could come out to play.
A bully was someone who made jokes about you, fought with you, basically made you life hard when you were out of the house, but it all went away as soon as you got home. Of course, you’d then worry about the next time you’d leave the house, but the point is that there was some respite.
Then the internet was born, and the world began to change into what it is today. However, in the beginning, the internet was an escape from every day life. Now, every day life is an escape from the internet.
Every one is connected, and each of you will readily try please the Facebook gods by offering up your lives for the world to see.
This means that no longer can you escape the school bully as soon as you close the house door. Your whole home is full of electronics that can reach beyond the safety of the home, and put you straight back in the hot seat.
The Cyber Bully
So the bullies are online now. They have multiple ways to communicate with a their target, and all from the relative safety of their own technologies. Phones, tablets, laptops etc can all be used to write nasty comments, poke fun at and generally make you feel trapped online as well as day to day.
They’re no different than before, except that they now have a keyboard to hide behind, and a carefully crafted message can be created with all time and poison someone can conjure. Not quite the screaming argument, where things are said in the heat of the moment, and are often not meant.
The basics remain. The person sending you things you don’t like, in order to make you feel uncomfortable on purpose, is a bully. Cyber or otherwise.
The Anatomy of a Bully
There are always a few traits that a bully has, here’s a few things that they normally are or need. They:
- Need to feel powerful, as they are normally powerless
- Having difficulties at home or personally
- Thinks it’s funny/does it to entertain their group of friends
- Doesn’t always understand the damage they are doing
- Picks on the flaws of others specifically to hide their own, and they normally have a few
- Generally insecure, and have no idea of who they are
Most bullies have been or are the victim of bullying themselves. It doesn’t make it any more acceptable, but it explains why they feel the need to improve their own state of mind, but they are doing it all wrong.
Nearly every bully I’ve ever met (and trust me, I’ve met quite a few) has turned out to be pretty decent human beings in their older years, when they are mature enough to see sense and feel genuine remorse for how they were as children.
There are always exceptions. Some people just enjoy being a bully. Don’t worry, life will generally catch up with them…..there’s always a bigger fish.
So Why Me?
Most likely, no reason other than wrong place at the wrong time. Sometimes it’s because they have identified a weakness of yours that they can exploit, taking the spotlight away from them (see the reference to most bullies are being bullied, earlier in this post)
Pee’d yourself once in primary school? Ears stick out a bit? Nose pointy? Skinny? Fat? Name sounds like another word, or rhymes with something nasty? And…..So what? No one is perfect, even though many of you are often told you are. Perfectly imperfect, such a great term – We are all different for a good reason, being the same is boring! It literally takes many great individuals, all different, to create great teams of people. Life will show you this in time, you’ll see.
Honestly though, it’s “mirror” time. Just think about the person who is giving you a hard time about the way you look…What is wrong with them? Be their mirror, for a moment. More often than not they have a very obvious trait they are trying to avoid having noticed, or at least publicly spoken about.
I’m not saying you should exploit this, don’t become the bully to beat the bully, but it should make you feel a little better.
Sometimes the person who has upset you isn’t doing it on purpose, they just haven’t worked out what they are doing. This can sometimes even be a friend or family member. These people, you can speak to and if they are half-decent, they’ll stop it.
Ok, I’m Being Bullied, what do I do?
Ok, stay calm. Let’s talk about it.
Speak to your parents, your teachers and your friends. This is not “telling on” someone or “grassing them up”, you’re exploring your situation. Explain what is going on and who it involves and how you are feeling. This is a critical step. It’s not weak, you’re actually more powerful now than you can possibly have imagined.
Ok, you’ve spoken about it. That’s a load off! Breathe, it’s out in the open, you don’t need to hide any more. Oh wait, the bully is still there and they’re still horrendous every day. Keep talking, show those messages and emails to you parents and teachers, after all, you’ve literally been handed the evidence you need.
Your teachers should be addressing the issue if it’s school based bullying, if they aren’t your parents can further the cause. I’ll talk about that in an article later on.
Your parents can offer guidance and support, as long as you let them. Your friends too.
If you feel in any way unable to chat to those people, ChildLine are always available with trained counsellors who can help you deal with what is happening. There’s a free to call number (0800 111), and you can stay anonymous, just talk it out and at least you’ll have a real person to chat with.
There is always a way to deal with the problem that will help you bounce back, richer from the experience and go on to do great things. It is NEVER, EVER a no win situation. If you are feeling like it’s all too much, please speak to someone. ANYONE! Mam, Dad, Uncle, Cousin, Teacher, Trained counsellor or other! Anyone. Talking will help you feel less trapped and more relaxed.
Take up a sport or hobby and funnel all your negative feelings into energy to expend on that task.
Most importantly, DO NOT STAND FOR IT! You are just as entitled to have a pleasant experience through childhood as anyone else, and while there are always ups and down, hard and easy times, you will always get through it. Just make sure you take advantage of the support networks that are available to you.
It may seem like a long way away, but before long you’ll be out of school and into further education, apprenticeships or work. You can carve out a piece of the world for yourself if you work hard enough, and let no one hold you back.
All you need is the effort and desire to go do it!
The next article will be aimed at the bully. How to identify yourself as the bully, and how to address your own issues. We’re hoping to drop this some time next week, so stay tuned!