Bullying and Unkindness
45% of young people experience bullying before the age of 18.
26% of those bullied have experienced bullying on a daily basis.
Statistics from The Annual Bullying Survey 2014
As you can see from these statistics, bullying is a big problem and if you are being bullied it may help you to be reminded that you are not the only one. Being on the receiving end of unkindness or bullying can feel like a very isolating experience and if you are being bullied, it is important to remember that it is not your fault.
If on the other hand you have been unkind to someone, you might just see it as a bit of fun, perhaps you think that the person you have been unkind to should 'get a sense of humour' and that it's 'only a bit of fun'. Have you considered that you may actually be upsetting or bullying someone and aren't aware that it is bullying? It is very likely that the person you are being unkind to sees the situation very differently to you.
When does unkindness become bullying ?
Bullying is a form of unkindness, but when does unkindness become bullying? What is the difference between being nasty or unkind to someone and bullying them?
1. Using power or strength to aggressively dominate others.
2. Repeated and habitual
3. It can be physical or emotional (e.g. name calling/exclusion)
If you are regularly excluding someone from your social group, i.e. turning your back on them when they are near, or attempt to join your group. Whispering about them and laughing at them. These things might seem like harmless actions, but over a period of time can lead to that person becoming very depressed and losing their self esteem, it could affect their school work and give them complexes and insecurities that could last a lifetime.
If you are on the receiving end of physical bullying, the fear is of a different kind, fear for your safety. This kind of fear means that you might feel constantly on guard when in range of the person or people who are physically bullying you, meaning that adrenaline is constantly pumping through your body and you can't relax.
To live in fear of other people's behaviour towards you is a terrible thing. Even worse if you feel you don't want to talk to anyone about it, if you feel that no one can help you.
Cyber bullying is a recent problem, that many children are affected by. It seems that some people who might not bully or be unkind in the playground, somehow feel able to be really nasty and threatening on-line or via texts. Cyber bullying can be very serious. Be very careful who you hand out your telephone number or email address to and if someone is doing this to you, you must imediately block their calls before it has time to escalate.
I have written a whole separate section on cyber-bullying and sexting, please take a look at this if you would like more information on the subject.
You don't have to put up with being bullied
Techniques for dealing with bullying and unkindness
1.Speak up clearly and calmly
Speak up about disrespectful language whether it's directed at you or at someone else by saying firmly something like " I'm not putting up with this, see you later!" Then walk away swiftly and confidently before it escalates into something worse and before they have a chance to say or do something back to you.
If the name calling is particularly aggressive or if you are being physically bullied, it might be helpful to shout something like
“NO, leave it out/ get off (name of bully), that's enough!"
Look the person who is bullying in the eyes and speak in a firm voice with both hands in front of your body with palms facing outwards, like a wall.", If the person bullying does not stop, yell for help. For example, “STOP! GET OUT OF MY WAY! HELP!" If you can, leave and go to an adult for help as soon as possible.
If you don't feel that you can speak up to the bully then seek help from an adult as soon as you can.
2. The Kidpower Trash Can Technique
This technique helps you to take the power out of hurtful words by saying them, catching them, and imagining throwing them away. Doing this physically and out loud at home will help you to do this in your imagination at school. Practice at home by throwing the hurtful things that other people are saying into a rubbish bin (you can either write it down on a real piece of paper and actually throw it in a bin, or imagine doing this, whilst still saying it out loud). Then say something positive out loud to yourself. For example, if someone says, “I don’t like you, ” you can throw those words away and say, “I like myself.” If someone says, “You are stupid” you can throw those words away and say, “I’m clever”, or "I'm cool" If someone says, “I don’t want to be friends with you any more” then you can throw those words away and say, “I will find another friend”, or "Who needs friends like you anyway"
3. Tell someone!
The saying " A problem shared is a problem halved" is true, as long as you tell somebody you know that you can trust, somebody who will listen and help you, give you guidance and strength to help solve the problem. Sometimes even if the person you tell can't help you, if they listen sympathetically, sometimes this can feel like a big relief. It can help you feel that you are not alone with your problems, because someone else understands and wants to support you.
39% have never told anybody that they are being bullied.
If the problem is at school, you could talk to your form teacher, or perhaps the person in charge of pastural care in your school. If you don't feel comfortable talking to them, then perhaps there is another teacher who you feel more comfortable with that you could approach. If it's seems like too much to approach them, then you could drop a note into their pidgeon hole, or give the note to the school secretary to pass on to the teacher, who could then come to you once they have read your note.
Obviously most parents or carers would very much want you to tell them if you were having any sort of problem at school, bullying in particular. You may find that they have had their own experience of being bullied, knew someone at school who was bullied, or perhaps they used to be a bully themselves. They may be able to give you some helpful advice.
(Remember that it is usually distressing for a parent or carer to hear that you are being bullied, particularly if they were ever on the receiving end of bullying themselves).
If you don't feel that you can tell your parent or carer, then perhaps you could tell another relative or grown up friend of the family who you trust, even someone who runs a club you go to, if you feel that they are kind and will listen.
There are also plenty of organisations such as www.childline.org.uk/Bullying, The Samaritans.
Or organisations set up specifically to support people who have problems with bullying, with people trained to know how to help such as:
4. The Power of the Bystander
If you see somebody being bullied, you are in a position of power. This power being that you have two choices, whether to help them, or to make it worse for them.
If you join in you are obviously making it worse, even if you just stand there and watch, without saying anything, to the person being bullied you will be seen as one of the bullies, if you stand and laugh, but don't call them names or physically hurt them, then you are still bullying.
If you choose to help, then this can mean either intervening directly, by telling the bullies to stop, or physically preventing them from bullying the person. This is something that you must judge carefully as you could be putting yourself in danger. The safest action to take would be to run and get an adult to help, if the bullying is not putting the person in immediate danger then you could wait until a convenient time and then tell a responsible adult, or talk to the person who has been bullied and suggest that they tell a responsible adult, who might be able to help them. I expect that they will be grateful that you want to help them.
"I was bullied quite a lot when I was growing up in my Peking Opera School. I allowed myself to be bullied because I was scared and didn’t know how to defend myself. I was bullied until I prevented a new student from being bullied. By standing up for him, I learned to stand up for myself."
Loss of Self Esteem and Self Harm
Taking steps to stop the bullying as early as possible is important, as I mentioned before, prolonged bullying can lead to loss of self esteem, depression, sometimes even self harm and occasionally suicide.
83% said bullying had a negative impact on their self-esteem.
30% have gone on to self-harm as a result of bullying.
10% have attempted to commit suicide as a result of bullying.
Self -harming is a symptom of repressed feelings, perhaps the bad feelings have been trapped inside for so long that you feel a kind of numbness and the self harming is a way of checking that you can still feel and of expressing how bad you feel, because you feel unable to express it in words, or in any other way. There is another way! There is help for you and there are other ways of expressing your pain ,of dealing with the pain in a better way and moving on in a more positive direction.
If you have ever self harmed or are considering self-harming or suicide, it is really important that you talk to someone as soon as you can. Talking can help to get you out of this way of feeling, there are people who you can talk to who will understand.
(There is more information about self-harming in my section about mental health services).
Bullies are weak
Bullies bully other people to make themselves feel powerful. Therefore they must feel as if they lack power in some way in order to feel the need to bully someone.
It is true that bullies have often been the victims of some kind of bullying themselves and bully other people as a way to regain the power and self esteem which they have lost as a result of their experience of bullying.
The only real power is loving kindness
The problem is that the kind of power which they experience from being a bully is not real power, to hurt someone because of an anger or feeling of powerlessness inside you is a false power. It may give the bully a temporary feeling of power, but deep down inside they don't feel better about themselves, in fact many bullies dislike themselves even more for being a bully and still feel weak inside. They may have learnt to detatch from their emotions, but the pain and guilt is still there deep inside.
The only way for bullies and victims of bullying to feel better about themselves is through seeking love and understanding, searching for help from people you trust.
If you want others to respect you, you need to first respect yourself.
Bullys need to learn to love themselves for the good qualities of kindness and generosity that they are capable of showing (instead of unkindness)
Victims of bullying need to learn to love or like themselves again after the loss of self esteem which they will have most likely have suffered as a result of being bullied.
Try to find little ways to show yourself some respect and love
Create an aura of strength around yourself by:
- Holding your head high and walking tall, with your shoulders back, try not to tense your muscles, (do this in a relaxed and subtle way otherwise you might get teased for walking in a weird way). Victims of bullying often hunch their shoulders in a submissive posture, bullies can see this and will be more drawn to bully someone who has a submissive posture. Hold yourself in a way that looks like you respect yourself and people will respect you more, you will also feel better and more confident if you have a confident posture.
- Looking after your appearance (keep clean and tidy) this shows other people that you care about yourself.
- Eating well (this can help improve symptoms of depression and tiredness)
- Taking time to sit quietly and observe your thoughts with detachment
- You can try saying some positive affirmations to yourself here are some that you might like to copy out and read to yourself everyday.
I have the right to be happy and free from fear
I am a powerful person
I have the right to be safe and respected
I am my own person, I have boundaries, I am strong and centred
All SMART Coaching(Stress Management And Relaxation Techniques) are designed to provide excellent and relevant quality well-being and mindfulness training, mindfulness training in schoolsor with young minds and intuition, insight mindfulness training across all sectors.