Are you the sort of person who gets off on making other people's lives a misery? Have you ever tried to rally a bunch of people against a smaller group or individual? Do you use social networking sites in order to spread vicious rumours about someone? I should hope not, because there's more than enough bullies out there using petty little tricks in an attempt to gain control over at least one element of their pathetic little lives, without my readers joining the bunch too!
Bullying has always happened. Even Jesus Christ himself (if you believe in all that) was bullied, in a way. So its ridiculous for us to turn any kind of blind eye to unacceptable behavior. I went to a school which claimed, point-blank, 'We do not have bullies.' And yet, I was bullied, occasionally. Heck, at some points I was even friends with a bully or two, which were never my proudest moments. But eventually in the process of growing up, I learnt the difference between right and wrong and distanced myself from anyone who brought themselves up through putting others down. Shockingly enough, sometimes these weren't just children, but teachers or even colleagues when I started working part-time jobs. People seem to forget that there isn't an age requirement on being a bully. Anyone can be one.
Over the past couple of weeks I've had reason to look into bullying, and what constitutes the term. Here's what I learned:
- Bullying can be done in any environment by anyone.
- It is easier to be a bully these days, due to technology. Keyboard warriors find it easy to sit behind a laptop screen creating unkind hash-tags on Twitter, or false accounts on facebook, whilst they would never dream of saying the things they type in person.
- Bullies pick on other people because they are unable to deal with their own flaws.
- Manipulation is key. At times, you might not even know you're being bullied, because the instigator may even be your best friend. A nasty comment every now and then about how you never stop eating or could do with a better concealer can join together in order to make you feel unattractive and resultantly less confident. As you fall into the shadows of the friendship group, the bully has less competition in terms of becoming a leader.
- You don't have to be going home with scars to be being bullied. Bullies do their work physically, verbally, mentally, emotionally, even sexually in some cases.
- Bullies often end up having problems of their own when they are outside of their core group. For example, if someone has been a bully through high school, then ends up going to a different college than their friends, they often struggle to integrate with new people as their manipulation 'skills' are often not accepted by strangers.
- The best way to deal with a bully is to ignore their attempts to upset you (as far as possible), stand up to them when necessary, collect evidence of what they are doing if you can, understand where you stand in terms of the law/company conduct/school rules and finally, tell someone what is happening.
- Sometimes bullies grow out of being bullies and see the error in their ways. However, sometimes by this point the damage they've caused is so great that they aren't forgiven by their victims, as they can't erase the scars they've created.
I've learned a bunch more things too. For example, did you know that if someone continues trying to contact them after you've explicitly told them not to, this counts as harassment? Did you know creating a false account on a social networking site counts as fraud? Did you know that spreading an untrue rumour about someone counts as slander? Harassment, fraud and slander are treated very seriously by the police, and if you get caught for any of these things, you can be in a lot of trouble.
As for any victims out there all I can tell you is to try and find your voice. Be strong, hold your head up high, know yourself. No-one can make you feel bad about yourself if you know for certain how great you are! Recognize bullies for what they are, sad pathetic losers who feel so terrible about themselves that they need to stamp on you to lift themselves an inch or two on the social pecking order. If you need to expose a bully because their behavior has gotten too much, remember that evidence is key. Tell them, in writing (eg. text, email, tweet etc), to stop contacting you so that if they do carry on, you can report them. Keep a record of everything they've said or written to you, even if you have to write or paste print-screen images into a dated diary. If they physically or sexually abuse you, take pictures of your wounds and go straight to the police. If you've been sexually abused, don't even shower first (which I can understand can be very difficult) because your body is the best evidence you can give. Surround yourself with people that love you, tell them what is happening, let them take care of you. And the whole time, do your best to appear confident and strong, as bullies choose those they feel threatened by but enjoy seeing their victims become easy targets.
If you're not sure if you're being bullied, or don't know how to stop the bullies, or can't think of anyone to talk to, check out Stop Bullying because there's tons of advice on their site.
So I know this was a totally out-of-character blog post. However, bullying has been a bit of a hot topic for me recently and since looking into the subject in more detail I figured it was something I was quite passionate about. No-one has the right to make someone else feel small, or to put someone off going into school, or feel miserable. I always stood up to bullies, but I know some people need a bit of support, so that's what this post was about.
Have you ever been bullied before? How did you manage to come out of the experience in one piece? What do you think about all my law-related facts? I was fascinated with them!
Love and snuggles