We associate the word “bully” with the horrible specimens we knew at school. You know the ones. You’re probably picturing their angry little faces now. You probably have a couple of names you associate with the word. You always knew they were approaching you in the corridors, because there’d be a whirlwind of chaos and malevolent activity swirling down them.
Books would suddenly fly up into the air, members of the Science club would come skidding down the floor on their fronts like human bowling balls, school bags were emptied onto the floor and their contents trampled on. All this would be accompanied by the soundtrack of evil laughter, coupled with whimpers of distress and quiet sobbing.
Then you’d see them. Them. Plural. Never alone were they, these so-called tough guys? No. There was always the one main bully, and a couple of snivelling little rats in their gang. Head Honcho Scumbag Number One would almost always be the most feared, and their henchmen were just as scared of their leader as everyone else was. Us mere mortals would spend our school careers trying to evade the attentions of the school bullies by making sure we didn’t make eye contact with them, walking the long way round to our lessons and generally trying to stay under the radar.
We knew who the bullies’ main targets were, and we’d quietly witness various acts of sadism being inflicted on these unfortunate souls. Sometimes, we’d mentally scream at the bullies’ victims to run or defend themselves, in the hope that they’d developed the power of telepathy overnight. We never spoke out, for fear of being next on the hit list. It’s shameful, I know. I took that shame with me into adulthood. Why didn’t I say something – do something? Hindsight has 20/20 vision.
Bullying and Suicide
We’ve all read and heard stories of teenagers ending their own lives, due to bullying. But is it really that big a problem? The answer is, most definitely.
This is an extract from the website, bullyingstatistics:
The statistics on bullying and suicide are alarming:
- Suicide is the third leading cause of death among young people, resulting in about 4,400 deaths per year, according to the CDC. For every suicide among young people, there are at least 100 suicide attempts. Over 14 percent of high school students have considered suicide, and almost 7 percent have attempted it.
- Bully victims are between 2 to 9 times more likely to consider suicide than non-victims, according to studies by Yale University
- A study in Britain found that at least half of suicides among young people are related to bullying
- 10 to 14 year old girls may be at even higher risk for suicide, according to the study above
- According to statistics reported by ABC News, nearly 30 percent of students are either bullies or victims of bullying, and 160,000 kids stay home from school every day because of fear of bullying
Sobering stuff, isn’t it?
We think that bullying, is limited to the playgrounds and corridors of our schools. It used to be, when my generation were growing up.
When most of us went to school, the likes of Mark Zuckerberg were still in school too; so social media wasn’t yet invented. If someone was being bullied at school, at least they could escape from the bullies, once they were on the right side of their front door. Not anymore.
Kids today have no escape from bullies. I see it all the time, in the form of my Facebook friends having to intervene, when some vile little cowards are abusing their teenage children online. Nine times out of ten, my Facebook friends’ children are being bullied at school, by the same horrorbags who are continuing their bullying campaign over social media.
In some ways, social media is actually helping the victims of bullying; by providing them with a public platform. By their very nature, bullies have delusions of being untouchable; therefore they will brazenly abuse their victims in public. This gives us parents the ability to see what the bullies are up to, in real time.
However, the acts of public cruelty the bullies engage in, are just the tip of the iceberg. Succumbing to their fundamental cowardice, the bullies will invariably reserve their worst acts of sadism for private messenger. Because bullies rarely operate alone, they and their cronies will abuse and humiliate their targets in a group message setting.
I’m of the opinion that parents should have access to their teenagers’ social media accounts. Call me an overbearing parent, or whatever you like; I don’t care. My children don’t yet have a social media presence, but when they do, I’ll make sure I have the passwords to their accounts; until they’re of an age to be completely responsible for themselves.
So if they are ever bullied (or God forbid, become a bully themselves, or a bully’s enabler), I’ll be able to see exactly what the hell is going on and stamp it out, before it escalates. I’m fully aware that I won’t be very popular with my children for doing this, but that doesn’t worry me. My priority is not to be popular with my children and their peers, it’s to make sure my children are safe. And if I have to be viewed as an over-protective parent in the process, then so be it.
Bullying is not just the forte of children. Adults engage in bullying and humiliation too. Most of the time, you’ll find that people who were bullies as children, go on to be bullies in adulthood.
Adult bullies will find targets in their workplace, on their street, on social media, amongst fellow parents at their childrens’ schools and even within their own families. It’s a sad fact that at least one point in our lives, we will fall prey to an adult bully.
We see them in action all the time, on social media. A controversial news story pops up on our newsfeed and there’s always one or two keyboard warriors in the comments section, dishing out insults to anyone whose opinion differs from theirs. Saddos.
A keyboard warrior recently tried to make me his target, on social media. I’m a member of several blogging community groups on Facebook, and I commented on a fellow member’s post. A couple of hours later, this keyboard warrior replied to my comment; with one of those psuedo-superior jibes at my choice of wording. “You meant to say……surely?” it read. No, my comment was worded just fine, thanks. No sooner had he used my comment as an ego wank sock; he’d tagged what I presume to be his sidekick/wanking partner in the thread. There’s a word for that where I come from, and it’s dogging. I replied to the keyboard warrior, asking him why he was so concerned with the way I’d worded my comment. I didn’t get a response, which was rather a shame; since I’ve never had the opportunity to fuck a keyboard warrior up on social media, while the friend they’ve tagged watches through their computer screen. Oh well.
Nowt To Do With Me
Because I feel ashamed of myself, for not intervening when someone was being bullied at school; I’ve become one of the seemingly few who speak up and challenge bullies. The ones who still wouldn’t put a bully in their place, say I’m stupid for doing so. “The only heroes, are dead ones” they tell me, as an attempt at persuading me that being spineless is the way forward. But I don’t want to be a hero, I want to be a decent human being.
Bullies thrive on getting away with it. They love nothing more, than to be left to carry out their campaigns of terror, unfettered. My opinion is, those who turn a blind eye to abuse of any description, are contributing to it. I’m sorry, but I won’t be on of the ones who look the other way, while someone is being beaten and humiliated. I don’t care if I get my face smashed in, at least I’ll be able to look myself in the eye (once the swelling’s gone down) and say that I stood up to a coward. Afterwards, I might even watch a video of the incident, which would no doubt have been uploaded to YouTube by a gutless bystander.
Whenever I see bullies on social media, I step in to defend the victim and deliver some bitter home truths to the jellyfish, who’s hiding behind their keyboard. And guess what? I’m still here to tell the tale. But if I’d been just another silent bystander, like most people are these days; would the bullies’ victims still be here? Looking at the statistics further up the page, there’s a good chance they might not be.
I live my life by the motto: “do no harm, but take no shit,” and I can hold my head up high and honestly say that I’m doing a pretty good job of it, so far.
If You, Or Your Loved One Is A Victim of Bullying
If you’re a victim of bullying, or you have a loved one who is; I’ve listed some sources of support available to you.
Sources of Support in The UK (the list is taken from the NHS Choices website)
Freephone: 0800 1111
ChildLine is a helpline and website for young people and children. You can call ChildLine confidentially at any time of the day or night to talk about any worries. Calls are free from landlines and mobiles, and they won’t appear on a phone bill. You can also chat online to an adviser orcontact ChildLine by email or message board. ChildLine’s website has a useful section on how to cope with bullying.
Bullybusters operates a free anti-bullying helpline for anyone who’s been affected by bullying. It also has a website and message board, with sections specifically for kids and young people.
Bullying UK offers extensive practical advice and information about bullying for young people, and its website has a section on bullying at school.
Help for different types of bullying
Bullying related to race, religion or culture
ChildLine’s website has a section on racism and what you can do if you encounter racist bullying.
Bullying of young people with a learning disability
Don’t Stick it, Stop It! (PDF, 993kb), set up by Mencap, campaigns against the bullying of young people with learning disabilities.
Homophobic and transphobic bullying
EACH is a charity for young people and adults affected by homophobia and transphobia. It has a telephone helpline for young people who are experiencing homophobic or transphobic bullying. You can call the EACH actionline on 0808 1000 143 on weekdays, 9am to 5pm. Calls are free from landlines and most mobiles.
Stonewall is a charity that campaigns for equal rights for lesbians, gay men and bisexual people. Its Education for All campaign tackles homophobia and homophobic bullying in schools across the UK. On the Education for All website you can find case studies and facts and figures about homophobic bullying in schools, as well as advice for young people and teachers.
Bullying of young carers
A Carers Trust survey in 2013 found a quarter of the young adult carers they spoke to had been bullied at school because of their caring role.
Cyberbullying uses technology to bully people. Find out how to deal with cyberbullying.
This isn’t a full list. You can find many more anti-bullying organisations on the Anti-Bullying Alliance website, which contains all the important sources of anti-bullying information and support. Remember, you can call ChildLine in confidence on 0800 1111 to talk about any type of bullying.
Sources of Support In The US
Sources Of Support In Canada
This list is not exhaustive. If you are reading this from any other parts of the world and you are in need of support, I will be more than happy to help connect you to sources of support in your area.