Bullying is one of the many reasons school going students fall into depression. Others being: the fear of exams, fear of specific teachers, and punishments. Bullying, often thought of as a show of masculinity, is not always physical. If it were so, girls wouldn’t have been bullies. A layman’s definition of bullying is picking on the weakest in a lot. In most cases, bullying starts with verbal, progresses to physical and also in some cases to sexual assault. Bullying is not just a school thing. Bullies can be found in workplaces, cyberspace, even homes.
The Bar Association of India defines bullying as, “Systematically and chronically inflicting physical hurt or psychological distress on one or more students or employees. It is further defined as unwanted and repeated written, verbal, or physical behavior, including any threatening, insulting, or dehumanizing gesture, by a student or adult, that is severe or pervasive enough to create an intimidating, hostile, or offensive educational environment; cause discomfort or humiliation; or unreasonably interfere with the individual’s school performance or participation; and may involve but is not limited to: teasing, social exclusion, threat, intimidation, stalking, physical violence, theft, sexual, religious, or racial harassment, public humiliation, or destruction of property.”
If you are facing a bully, there are certain things you can do about it:
Know your Bully.
One thing that is common in most bullies is their need to find validation among their friends and family. Bullies put up a show for others to see because that’s the only thing they know they can do that will buy them attention. Quick question: How many times did a bully pick on you when you were alone with him/her? and how many times did he/she bully you in front of others? The latter is always high.
Though bullying is a problem, bullies are not. Bullies themselves are victims. No one is born a bully, they are raised as one. Bullies often have been known to have a troubled family background, maybe to the extent that they too are bullied at home, by their family. So tell me, who has had a troubled childhood?
Let me explain with an example. Tom is raised in a big family. His father is a drunkard who always comes home and beats the hell out of his mother. His mother who is not a strong woman. She often cries and does nothing to fight back. Tom has five elder siblings who don’t think that he even exists. Alone at home with no one to guide him, he is influenced by his father’s alpha male character. This Tom, when he goes out, picks on the weakest to get the attention and validation he needs and the cycle goes on.
Therefore people who turn into bullies often have:
- Low self-esteem.
- Familial-Relationship Problems.
- Stress or Trauma in recent years (Psychological as well as bodily)
- Insecurities in relationships.
- Validation and attention seeking
- They often feel the need to impress others.
Where all have people been Bullied?
The risk of getting bullied is everywhere: at school, university, workplaces, and cyberspace. Bullies are everywhere. I often think that instead of counseling people who are bullied, we should move our attention to the one who is bullying. Apparently, he is the first one to show the signs that he needs help (by bullying others, it’s safe to say to that he is might be dealing with any of the issues we discussed earlier). Have you ever come across a stray dog who keeps on barking at you for no good reason. Does that indicate that you need to go see a doctor or does it mean that the dog needs to have an appointment made asap? That was not a good way of saying it, but you know what I mean!
If bullies are not dealt with in their young age, they become more injurious in the future. The cyber and school bullying of Amanda Todd is a gruesome example of what bullying actually is. (watch the fifth estate documentary here.)
How to respond to bullying.
You see, being a bully is much of a difficult task. You need to keep everyone happy and entertained otherwise where will the validation come from. Bullies try to affect you with all that they have. If you are not getting bothered by their old tricks, they’ll try new ways to get under your skin. Therefore it’s necessary to respond to your bully in an appropriate manner.
- As it has been said, sometimes the best thing to do is, to do nothing at all. You can choose to silently walk away without expressing your fear, anger or frustration.
- Keeping your cool, when the bully is trying hard to provoke you is a deadly weapon. If you respond this way repeatedly, the bully may eventually lose interest and stop his bully routine altogether.
- If the bully is physically aggressive, its wise to have a tough friend accompany you around school or university campus, another clever thing to do is to make friends with one of the bully’s classmates who is bold, tough and wise – all at the same time.
- Reaching out is always important, be it a mild or severe case of bullying. Whether you are being bullied at school, workplace or cyberspace. You need to reach out to people that care about you. At school, this can be your teachers and parents.
- You can connect with your colleagues at the workplace along with your family. In cyberspace, you can need to reach out to your family and cyber police as soon as possible. In every instance reaching out to the family is very much important.
- If you can find the courage, stand up to the bullies. You only have to do that once.
Try to observe the patterns in your Bully.
It can be quite amazing to learn about your bullies by mere observation. In many cases, the bullies are just pawns pressured by their peers and influenced by their friends to make certain moves and target people that the group doesn’t collectively like. Observe if your bully is influenced by others to bully you or he is doing it himself.
Paying attention to the time and circumstances that he/she bullies you in, can be helpful. See what you are doing that ticks him off and why it possibly does. Understanding these patterns can help you to be one step ahead of him/her. You can work on not getting yourself in those situations and if that’s not an option you can be careful when in those situations.
Don’t believe what they say.
The only aim of bullies is to get under your skin. If they are not able to do it, you fail them there and bullies don’t like a failure which makes them try even harder. By trying harder I mean, they will try anything to get under your skin. The insults will become more and more demeaning. The verbal abuses will become more frequent and the same goes with physical friction.
They will try everything to bring you down. They’ll mock you with your very vulnerabilities. Don’t believe them and know that person needs your sympathies more than anything. Pity your bullies. In fact smile at them. If you stay strong during this time and don’t respond to your bullies by getting frustrated and sad, eventually, they’ll stop. What I am asking you to do is pretty hard in terms of ground realities. But that’s the only way.
Try talking to your bullies.
This is something you need to be very sure and careful about if you want to proceed this way. Therefore it’s the last one on this list. I suggest you go this way only when you are sure of not getting endangered and affected by your bully. The aim of this talk is not about your problems, but his/her problems. This is you putting the coal on his/her head. Yes, this is supposed to be a help from you to the bully.
As we advance in media and virtual social circle, we as a society have lost the art of conversing with each other. Why talk when you can text. But know this that open discussion has always helped build our great nation and our lives.
What if nothing works?
Not all things are often in our control. That’s when we should let the professionals take over. If nothing works and you see an imminent danger to your life or someone around you, I suggest you take the help of authorities in that domain. You should approach law enforcement officers, police and cyber police according to the situation you are in.
Indian jurisdiction addresses bullying and is supportive of people being bullied. Click here to know the anti-bullying laws in India.
Being bullied is a gravely demeaning and unpleasant experience. Do not fail to take an action for yourself and for others. Do it out of wisdom and not with impulse. If you act wisely, you may even help the bully to face the facts and seek help for his/her own issues. Stay strong!