Bullying is a widespread phenomenon that can have long-lasting consequences. In fact, the CDC determined that the impact of bullying is significant enough to medically re-classify it: Bullying is now classified as a social disease that needs to be addressed as a public health issue.
As the CDC defines it, bullying is “any unwanted aggressive behavior(s) by another youth or group of youths...that involves an observed or perceived power imbalance, and is repeated multiple times or is highly likely to be repeated.”
As a society, we can put an end to bullying. Bullying occurs for many reasons, but it comes down to the differences between people. When people can’t communicate their differences in a positive way, there is a risk of bullying.
The bottom line is that bullying is damaging not just to the LGBTQ+ community but to other groups, too. We here at Pride Palace are happy to join the fight against bullying, and we have some suggestions to help you make a difference.
Here are seven ways to help prevent bullying.
Tip 1: Teach Kids About Bullying
One of the best ways to prevent bullying is to make sure we all know what it is and how to recognize it -- especially children and teenagers. Nowadays, the majority of bullying is perpetrated through social media, and it looks quite different from the “schoolyard” bullying that many adults grew up with.
Because most bullying now takes place on social media and other Internet platforms where perpetrators can stay anonymous or deny culpability, it may be more difficult for children to report bullying incidents to parents, teachers, or other authority figures.
Additionally, educating children about bullying and its adverse effects can help diminish the damaging idea that bullying is a natural part of growing up or a “rite of passage”.
Tip 2: Acknowledge and Respond to Bullying
Many bullies don’t understand how their bullying affects other people. This isn’t true of all bullies, but by showing how the bullying has affected you, or others like you, you might be able to reach them by appealing to their empathy.
This might mean speaking up in the workplace if you notice that someone is being bullied. Oftentimes, adults will get very embarrassed if you call them out on their bullying, and they’ll stop to save face.
Showing that you won’t stand for bullying can compassionately but firmly encourage your co-workers and colleagues to adopt a more inclusive approach to work.
Tip 3: Eliminate the Idea of Bystanders
In online forums and real life, many people may witness bullying incidents but don’t do anything to stand up to it, sometimes out of fear. They might worry that if they stand up to bullying, they will become the new target.
At Pride Palace, we fully believe in the mantra, “See something, say something” but having empathy for witnesses of bullying is also a part of the solution. In our society, especially, there is a stigma surrounding those who report or publicly denounce bullying. Conversely, there is just as strong of a stigma surrounding people who witness bullying and don’t speak up. Being ostracized can be a devastating lose-lose situation for witnesses who could provide valuable information and help education efforts.
Bullies deliberately target people who they perceive to be alone.
Imagine a lion hunting an antelope. The lion will always chase down the weakest and slowest antelope -- the one farthest away from the rest of the herd -- to save time and energy. This, after all, won’t be its last hunt. Bullies, who are also predatory in their methods, are motivated by a number of emotions, but they will self-preserve above all else. If their target fights back and succeeds, they will back off and seek out someone else.
Make your physical safety your first priority. If standing up for the person being bullied is not safely possible, find the closest authority figure, such as a manager or teacher, and ask them to step in. Depending on the situation, it may be safest to contact law enforcement instead.
Tip 4: Demonstrate Tolerance
Being a good role model is also key to preventing bullying. Leading by example inspires others to share their own stories, good and bad, and this open communication can help break down the social barriers that encourage feelings of isolation and anger.
It may seem like a big responsibility, but holding yourself responsible in your actions and words can do wonders to discourage bullying and encourage positivity. Sometimes, all it takes to stop a bully is a good example of the way we should love, support, and lift each other up.
Tip 5: Give Encouragement
When you see someone stand up for a person being bullied, encourage them and reward them for their courage. If it’s a child, reward them when they stand up for others.
Supporting each other is the best way to garner encouragement. If you notice one of your employees or coworkers standing up, praise them afterward and let them know that they have your support.
People are more likely to continue behaviors that get them attention and praise at any age.
Tip 6: Reduce the Stigma Around Therapy
Many people who resort to bullying do so because of unresolved issues. As a society, we have come a long way toward accepting and encouraging people to seek therapy for personal problems that might cause them to lash out at others.
However, there are still many parts of the world where therapy is seen as admitting you are weak. We should continue to reduce the stigma around seeking therapy to promote its benefits.
If more people sought out therapy or enrolled their children in therapy, there would likely be fewer bullies since they would have a healthier alternative outlet for their stress, fear, and anger.
Tip 7: Contact the Authorities
In cases where you cannot stop the harassment from escalating or continuing, you will have to call on someone with the authority to stop it. This may mean contacting the police or reporting a user to the social media platform.
If you work in an office, contacting your manager or Human Resources might be your best bet. Usually, people are reluctant to blow the whistle on bullying and involve authorities who might not take it as seriously as you do. However, it is necessary to stop bullying, especially if someone’s safety is in jeopardy.
Unfortunately, there will always be bullying, and sometimes, the only way to put an end to bullying is to deny access or remove yourself from the situation.
Simply put, bullying is never acceptable and should never be tolerated. While bullying is pervasive among adults and children, it doesn’t have to be. The fight against bullying and educating people about its effects is growing every day.
There are plenty of ways that we can fight back and stop bullying. The main way we can help is to show people what bullying looks like, have productive conversations about it, and step up to stop it when we see it.
Pride Palace believes that everyone deserves love and acceptance, not bullying, so hold your head high and spread the word that bullying has no place anywhere at any time.