Tag Archives: bullying

Anti-Bullying Day (Bullying sucks…let’s do something…)

26 Feb

pink

As anyone who reads this blog knows, I was bullied in school. (If you need a refresher: Things I Am Afraid Of.)

It’s a topic of discussion that comes up often around our house. My husband’s experiences in school were the opposite of mine. While he experienced bullying, his self-confidence can’t be matched so it rolled off his back like it was nothing. He was a popular athlete everywhere he went and he had a great support system in his family and friends (especially in sports). He championed his peers who were being bullied and stood up to anyone trying to cut someone else down. This is the guy I married. How perfect, that I, someone with low self-esteem, who was bullied, should be paired up with such a hero. It’s my good fortune to be able to spend so much of my time with someone who is such a good role model for me. My confidence, since meeting my husband in the 12th grade, has shot through the roof, and while I still find myself triggered by memories and feelings of being bullied, over the years I’ve built up a great defense against it and have found that the quality of my relationships, and the people who I choose to surround myself with, fall into a healthy, supportive, mutually loving category, rather than being self-destructive, damaging, and designated to put me in positions where I think that I am “helping” bullies by providing them with an outlet for what is obviously a lot of pain, hurt and anger on their part.

Canadian Bullying Statistics from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research:

  • Canada has the 9th highest rate of bullying in the 13-years-olds category on a scale of 35 countries1
  • At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently2
  • Among adult Canadians, 38% of males and 30% of females reported having experienced occasional or frequent bullying during their school years3
  • 47% of Canadian parents report having a child victim of bullying4
  • Any participation in bullying increases risk of suicidal ideas in youth5
  • The rate of discrimination experienced among students who identify as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Trans-identified, Two-Spirited, Queer or Questioning (LGBTQ) is three times higher than heterosexual youth4
  • Girls are more likely to be bullied on the Internet than boys6
  • 7% of adult Internet users in Canada, age 18 years and older, self-reported having been a victim of cyber-bullying at some point in their life7
  • The most common form of cyber-bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, reported by 73% of victims6
  • 40% of Canadian workers experience bullying on a weekly basis7

When it comes to bullying, I find it to be equally important to understand the mentality of both the bully, and the victim, because how can you put an end to something without a clear understanding of how both sides work? In most cases, both individuals are victims of abuse in some way or another. From stopabully.ca:

“What is Bullying?

Bullying is a form of aggression that unfolds within a relationship. The teen who bullies uses aggression and control to maintain a position of power over the victim. As bullying evolves over time, the power dynamics and inequality in the relationship become stronger. The victimized teen gets caught in an abusive relationship. This problem can also happen between groups of young people.

Bullying consists of three basic types of abuse – emotional, verbal and physical. It typically involves subtle methods of coercion such as intimidation.The “imbalance of power” may be social power and/or physical power. The victim of bullying is sometimes referred to as a “target.”Bullying is abusive treatment, the use of force or coercion to affect others, particularly when habitual and involving an imbalance of power. It may involve verbal harassment, physical assault or coercion and may be directed persistently towards particular victims, perhaps on grounds of race, religion, gender, sexuality or ability.”

afc-graphic-1

So here’s how it works. (Paraphrased and anecdotal, since I’m not a mental health professional.)

The Bully has something crappy happen in their life, repeatedly. Pair that with some less than stellar examples on healthy ways to manage anger, pain, disappointment, etc, and you have all the things you need to create a bully.For whatever reason, The Bully cannot confront the source of their crappy situation (and there are all sorts of sad, and heartbreaking reasons for why this might be true) so they discover they can manipulate, hurt, or otherwise take it out on someone who won’t fight back, or just someone who cares.
Enter the victim of bullying. There are all sorts of reasons why someone might be targeted. They can range from obvious physical weaknesses, to simply already being isolated from their peers (maybe they’re new, maybe they’re part of a less popular subculture within their social group, etc.), or less apparent mental weaknesses (perhaps they are already being bullied at home, or elsewhere.), among many other reasons. Logically it follows that both the Bully and the Victim have very poor self esteem.
Bully picks on Victim, Victim doesn’t fight back because of previously mentioned low self-esteem, Victim’s general lack of self worth confirmed by Bully, Bully feels better because someone else feels worse, Victim continues to be Bullied because they “deserve it”, which both individuals tend to believe is true. In many cases, the Bully even convinces him or herself that they are “helping” the Victim by “toughening them up”. (For more on how Bullies justify their bullying, check out The Women’s Crisis Service write up on In the Mind of an Abuser.)

Bully: “If you didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t bully you.”
Victim: “If I didn’t deserve it, I wouldn’t be bullied.”

Why don’t these victims just stand up for themselves? Lack of resources, lack of self-esteem, lack of one person standing up for them, lack of knowledge on HOW. There are a lot of reasons why someone who feels like they deserve to be treated poorly can’t find it within themselves to suddenly perform a 180 and become self-confident enough to say, “I don’t deserve this, and you’re obviously broken on the inside. Maybe you should talk to someone about a healthy way to release all of your hurt and aggression.”

So…what can we do about it? It’s all well and good to agree that bullying sucks and is getting out of hand (do I even need to touch on cyber-bullying or is that pretty much covered by the media these days?) but what can WE do?

Here’s a few things:

1. Read up on bullying. Find out why it happens and to whom. Read up about victim mentalities and cycles of abuse. Try your damnedest to understand WHY bullying is so prevalent.
2. Read up about compassion. Live it, breath it, set a good example. Show the people around you (especially children) that when you are angry, or sad, you’re not going to blame others, or lash out like it’s Friday the 13th and you’re a ghost janitor out for revenge. Don’t be a bully. (Seems self-explanatory.)
3. Don’t be a victim either. Say “the right things”. When someone IS lashing out at you, turn it back on them. Make it clear that it’s THEIR issue that has NOTHING to do with you. Demonstrate healthy conflict resolution. Don’t bully the bully. (Obviously, if this is impossible because it takes two, get some help.)
4. Be part of the solution. Victims of bullying shouldn’t just “stand up for themselves”, or be taught to “fight back”. They shouldn’t be taught that if they were only tougher, or smarter, or more beautiful that somehow the bullying would stop and their lives will be hunky dory. It’s all about teaching positive self-image, confidence, build up their self esteem in a healthy fashion, and support schools that are against bullying. (100% anti-bullying programs have been proven not to be particularly effective, unfortunately, largely due to a lack of cooperation from teachers and parents, but information is a powerful tool.) Volunteer at your children’s schools, wear pink on Anti-Bullying Day, and here are a few worthy causes you can donate to:

http://www.stopabully.ca/help-out

Ellen Degeneres is a huge advocate of Anti-Bullying and is part of some great organizations.

http://www.bullyingcanada.ca/donate/

Buy a shirt and donate to: Pinkshirtday.ca

““The most beautiful people we have known are those who have known defeat, known suffering, known struggle, known loss, and have found their way out of those depths. These persons have an appreciation, a sensitivity, and an understanding of life that fills them with compassion, gentleness, and a deep loving concern. Beautiful people do not just happen.” – Elizabeth Kubler Ross”

Check out the #pinkshirtday hashtag on Facebook.
On Twitter.
And of course…Instagram.

Things I Am Afraid Of

20 Feb

I have a confession. I am afraid to send my children to public school.

I’m doing my best not to pass these fears on to my daughters. My two beautiful children whom I love more than anything in the world. I don’t want them to absorb my issues and insecurities without experiencing the world and all the wonderful things it has to offer for themselves. I’m afraid of horses but I want my girls to ride them. To feel what it’s like to be at the mercy of such a powerful animal. To love it and trust it and potentially form an unbreakable bond with another living thing that they will remember for the rest of their lives. I would never want to rob them of that majesty.

But I am afraid to send them to public school.

I was bullied in school. Not the sort of bullying where I got beat up on the playground every day after hours, although sometimes that happened in the ways that girls bully one another. Hair pulling and back-pack stealing. No…mostly it was bullying in the way that cuts to the very core of oneself. The low blows and emotional hurts that can only be delivered by those who know you well. Broken trusts and horrible insecurities. The name calling, names that I never want to repeat, that bounce around in my brain as an adult and cause problems in my grown-up marriage. I will hate my teeth forever. My nose, my height, my hair. Superficial things that shouldn’t matter but do when you’re trying so hard to fit in and nothing seems to be working.

I remember, vividly, the feeling of loneliness and invest a lot of time, too much time, desperately trying avoid it FOREVER.

Sometimes I still over-compensate.

Because for a whole year in the 4th grade someone told me that I was too stupid and ugly to be loved.

I am afraid for my children. I’m afraid of mean children. I’m afraid that someone will tell them one small, insignificant, untrue thing and it will unravel years of support and love and being told over and over again that they are beautiful, and intelligent, and amazing. I’m afraid that someone will terrorize them. That they will dread going to school because what awaits them is so soul-crushing and dehumanizing that they would rather lie in bed all day than get up and succeed. I’m afraid because it was my reality. I had good parents, I’m very loved, and I still took every.single.insult to heart.

I want to tell them that bullies don’t matter. That THEY are the ones who are small, insignificant and ugly. Then I decide that I want to teach them to love bullies. To pity them and kill them with kindness which makes you a better human but doesn’t necessarily solve the problem. I want to set them up with a suit of armor made of confidence that they can use to shield themselves against lies and hurtful words. But I am afraid that words, intangible things that mean so much even when they are so little, find a way to worm into our brains and take root and become the things that we use to measure ourselves for the rest of our lives.

I’m afraid of bullies.

I’m almost 30.

I’m afraid that my children will feel the way that I feel, and I wish with all of my being that they never do.

I watched a video today that made me cry. My reaction was so visceral that I feel compelled to share it and I’m not embarrassed to admit that I was bullied, and that I don’t possess whatever it is that you need to “shake it off”.  While I no longer experience bullying on a day to day basis, I remember how it feels, and if I can help bring enough awareness to the issue then maybe it will help someone else who was or is bullied realize that they are beautiful. They are not the sum of the verbal, mental and physical abuse being showered upon them. And maybe my children will grow up to love themselves and others. To laugh in the face of bullies and to champion the bullied.

Parental pipe dreams, right? Well…I have to try.

stacey

Here is a link to Shane Koyczan’s video:

Pork Chop