Bully!!! Are you a Bully?
Lola returned from school crying. Her mummy was still at work so her Auntie, Rose, sought to find out what was making Lola cry so much. It turned out Lola’s classmate and friend who had rode in the school bus with her, had made fun of her and called her “fat girl” and when Lola started to cry, this same friend laughed at her and called her a “cry-cry baby”. By the time Lola got home she was very distressed and was really weeping. All the fun poked at her had upset her and she didn’t think any of it was funny at all. It didn’t make it better that everybody else in the bus joined in the laughter even while the teacher tried to caution them.
As you read this, do you recognize a similar situation you have been in? Have you been in Lola’s situation before or have you been one of the many who laughed at Lola? Have you ever been cruel to your little brothers and sisters, to your classmates, to friends at school or at the play ground? Do you make them cry? Do you constantly harass people who cannot fight you back? Do you poke fun at people who are weaker than you? Do these actions make you feel powerful and superior?
Or, have you been the object of such ridicule? Are you afraid to go to school for fear of what your school mates do to you that make you feel bad? Have you heard the word BULLY before? And if you have, are you a Bully or have you been bullied?
I know you may have cringed a bit at my questions because bullying is not such a nice word; is it? Everybody feels uncomfortable when faced with bullies and every bully is uncomfortable to be identified as that.
So, who really is a bully?
The dictionary defines a bully as a person who uses his strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker. A person who uses superior strength to influence and to intimidate or force someone to do what he or she wants. A person who is habitually cruel or overbearing, especially to smaller or weaker people or a person who acts very aggressively to others. As I read these definitions I understand better why “bully” is not a very good name to be called or known by.
A little girl I met with a few weeks ago shared her understanding of bullying with me. In her own words she described a bully as someone who feels good by making others feel bad.
Here are a few examples she gave of what a bully may do:
- Telling someone that they are fat.
- Calling them names.
- Telling them bad things about their families.
- Saying that the things they wear are stupid.
- Calling them unimportant because it is hard for them to read and learn.
- Shoving them around.
- Saying that their handwriting makes you sick.
- Calling them stupid because they cannot speak well.
- Disrespecting them because they are in lower classes
- Taking their money, food, snacks and toys.
If all those are characteristics of a bully, then I most certainly agree that bullying is a very bad thing and that situations of bullying should be corrected. In the world of bullies you would normally find different groups of individuals. There would be the bully himself, the one who is bullied, the one who can make a report about someone being bullied, the one who shies away and remains silent even though he knows a victim of abuse. Then there is the one who can help the bully and the bullied which in most cases is an adult, a parent, a teacher, or a school authority.
If you are in the Bully group, you simply have to STOP!!
There is no going around this. Bullying is bad behaviour. You just have to decide to stop hurting other people. Decide that all those negative descriptions do not define you. Every child was created beautiful in body and in spirit. What is it that makes you feel good about hurting another person? Perhaps you can speak to a trusted adult about what pushes you to bully? Perhaps you are disturbed about something you feel you cannot share with another? Is there something you need that you are not receiving? Do you feel that taking it out on other children will take it away or help you bear it better? I urge you to speak to somebody about it. Find a teacher you admire and respect and share what troubles you. When at home, speak to your mom or dad about it. The only way to overcome it is by sharing what it is that hurts your heart. Once you find the courage to confide in someone, the healing you need to let go of bullying behaviour will begin and you will find absolutely no reason to pick on another child, instead you will long to protect any other victim of bullying. Bullying is not nice, period. Let it go. Stop now and have yourself a beautiful life devoid of unnecessary strife and drama.
And if you are a bully’s friend, in order words, one of the people who join a friend in harmful behaviour toward an innocent person or you find yourself among the cheerleaders of a bully, laughing together with others when someone has been hurt psychologically, you do need to stop encouraging bad behaviour. A friend of a bully is known as an enabler. An enabler is one who enables another to persist in self-destructive behaviour. Enabling a bully will definitely prevent any wholesome desire for change and that will prevent any positive growth in the psychology and mental nature of the person being enabled and this will definitely contribute to more negative symptoms and negative behaviour on the part of the bully.
And at home, there may possibly be something going on at home that may cause a child to begin to bully someone else. Most experts on the subject of bullying have traced it to problems at home and parents have had to be involved at some point in order to get to the foundation of the problems that brought about bullying or the need to bully. Children who are found to be lacking something deep inside have been known to take it out on other children. An example is a child empathizing with a parent who may be suffering greatly and find he or she is unable to help that parent. The frustrations and anger push them to take it out on other children.
A child needs to confide in his or her parents or a trusted adult and a parent needs to be observant to a child exhibiting signs of aggressiveness.
Now if you are being bullied, then you are at the brunt of it, the receiving end.
Don’t be scared of your bully. But don’t push your luck either. If the bully bothers you, tell the closest adult. You do not need to suffer harassment, intimidation and undue suffering inflicted on you by another child. You must report any bullying to your parents, guardian and any adult who is in a position to address the bully and to ensure that all bullying stops. You are also a precious child who deserves to be happy everyday and nobody has a right to make you feel smaller than you are. You can also rise above the pettiness of bullying and refuse to feel bad about other people’s behaviour. You can choose not to be affected by what others do but if it becomes very bad as in Lola’s case where you have an entire bus full of school children laugh at you, or the bullying starts to affect your school work and your normal life, then you must make a report to somebody. You have to bring it to someone’s attention. You must bring it out to the open for it to be addressed.
If you are in the group where you can make a report, then you play a crucial role in helping to stop bullying in your environment whether it is school, playground, home or church. You owe it to everybody to report any signs of bullying or any actual acts of bullying that you have witnessed, however you must make sure that what you are reporting is true and not just what you imagine to be true. You wouldn’t want to report a fake story, would you? If the person who is being bullied is your friend, then it’s easier for you because you will have facts to report. It is a bit trickier if it is someone whom you are not very close to. A lot of people would expect you to mind your own business especially as you are not being directly affected by it. This is however a wrong approach because what affects one person affects us all. You must learn to stick out your neck to help others where help is needed. You must be your brothers’ keepers. And there are many cases where things have gone terribly wrong and where a quick intervention was crucial to save somebody a future of pain and anguish. So go ahead, make that report to a trusted adult about any signs of bullying you notice.
Then there is the group of people who would shy away from any signs of trouble and not want to make reports where it is appropriate to. Whilst it is good to avoid confrontations, your silence may cause grievous consequences. Bullying is dangerous. A bully is likely to grow up to become a hired thug or a ruffian, also a lot of children have harmed themselves for fear of facing bullies This is not good. Bullying is dangerous. It is a very serious thing that needs to be addressed by all involved. If you suspect bullying, don’t be silent. If you speak out, you will save a life.
A NOTE TO BULLIES
Don’t be quarrelsome. Don’t aim to habitually badger people who are weaker than you. Bullying is a violent action and does not make you a bigger or stronger person. In fact, bullying most likely portrays you as weak. It won’t make you more popular or more powerful. Stop now.
A NOTE TO THE VICTIMS OF BULLYING
Talk to someone today. If you find that you cannot control the effects of bullying on your own, speak out. Talk to your parents, teacher, a coach, a guidance counselor or any adult you can trust. Do not suffer in silence. Bring it to someone’s attention. When you speak out, the bully loses his control over you.
A NOTE TO PARENTS AND TEACHERS
Parents and teachers should be observant to the signs of bullying such as aggressiveness, physical complaints, moodiness, slacking in school or homework, and withdrawal from friends and group activities. Encourage the children to talk to you about bullying incidents. And do not ignore their reports from school or home. Teach children about respecting self and respecting others and learning to treat others with farness and empathy. Children must be taught to be proud of themselves, never to feel smaller than any other child and made to feel equal to one another. Educate the children about the dangerous effects of bullying and establish consistent rules of the behaviour exhibited when they are with other children.
In conclusion, it is important for children to be unafraid of standing up for themselves or for someone else. Courage is a virtue. Be courageous. Don’t just stand there among the crowd, do something. Speak out and be heard. Be confident. A confident child is less likely to be picked on by a bully and is less likely to be affected by the actions of a bully.
This was written by Kandibe Eya for Nowchild Magazine Vol.2, Issue 2.