No one likes being bullied but the fact is that it is prevalent all around. Be it amongst the young in schools and colleges, or amongst adults at work or the newer more prevalent cyberbullying – it is more widespread than we think. Ragging, teasing and physically harming classmates in schools, hierarchical, sexual or racial bullying at offices and stalking, verbally abusing and blackmailing using technology, all these are different ways and methods used by bullies. According to a survey conducted by Microsoft about the global Youth, it was found that surprisingly 53% of children have been bullied in India in different ways.
Effects of bullying
Research has shown that people who have been bullied, if not dealt with, may carry the emotional damage from their experience for the rest of their lives. Being bullied has long-term physical and psychological consequences ranging from learning disorders, anxiety and panic attacks to depression. Thus it is very important to help our children and friends & colleagues if we notice that they are being bullied. Also, it is important to seek help if we ourselves are subject to any kind of bullying.
How to help prevent and tackle bullying for kids
- Look for warning signs – Most kids do not readily talk about being bullied. Thus it is important to look out for warning signs. Some signs to look for include changes in mood, sleep pattern as well as eating habits, loss of interest in daily activities, drop in grades, changes in friends and missing possessions. Some victims of bullying also complain of physical symptoms like stomach aches, headaches and will be reluctant to go to school/ college.
- Connect with and be present for your kids – As most children do not directly talk about bullying, staying connected with them is of utmost importance. A daily conversation where you talk about your day and get updates about their day is very helpful. Also, try to volunteer in some school activities or visit the school at regular intervals. Talk to their teachers and friends when you are at school. All these will help you notice any warning signals if your child is being bullied. Also, being involved makes you more approachable if your child or their friend might want to talk about being bullied.
- Teach them about bullying and the different approaches to tackle a bully – Even though your child may not be a victim of bullying, you must talk to them about it. They must be aware of what bullying is and know approaches to tackle a bully. The different ways to tackle a bully could be by walking away, talking to a safe adult around, or confronting the bully. Read here to know details on how to tackle a bully.
- Report incidences to school– Bullying is something that does not just go away. So the moment you are aware of any situation immediately report it to the school and talk to the teachers and involve the parents of the child who is bullying. In 2015 HRD ministry directed CBSE schools to form anti-ragging committees at school level also putting severe punishments to students indulging in bullying. There is a similar guideline by UGC to all colleges across India. So, the schools are responsible to take action. This would also help as a preventive action.
- Get help from a trained professional – Bullying leaves long-term emotional scars on kids, especially if they have been a victim for a long duration. So, if required seek the help of a counselor.
How to help a colleague or friend who is experiencing bullying
- Look for warning signs – Just like children, even adults do not like to discuss being bullied. Thus if you notice any of the warning signs like changes in mood, eating habits, loss of interest in daily activities or constantly avoiding workplace or certain group settings, talk to your friends or colleagues and try to understand if they are a victim of bullying
- Intervene immediately if you are around – If you are around when you notice a friend or colleague being bullied, intervene immediately. If it is a physical or verbal bullying then immediately separate them and move them apart, preferably to different rooms. Depending on the situation talk to both parties separately and try to understand the situation.
- Talk to higher authorities – You might not be able to resolve the issue when a colleague or friend is being bullied – no matter which form, it may be physical, verbal, sexual or cyber. Thus involving a higher authority – like the HR if at work or the police if otherwise would be the first step towards resolving this.
- Assist them in getting help to heal – Assist your friends or colleagues while they are healing from the experience. Be around them and involve them in some fun group activities. Urge them to get professional help and see a counselor. This helps to heal faster with minimal emotional damage.
How to help ourselves tackle a bully
- Recognizing the problem – Often we ourselves may find it difficult to differentiate between a rude behavior or bullying. Here are some tips to help you identify such a behavior. Also, if a victim of bullying, we might tell ourselves in our mind that we are just imagining it or it is just a one-off thing. So identifying and accepting that you are being bullied is very important.
- Deal with the bully– There are different approaches to tackle a bully ranging from walking away, confronting the bully or talking to higher authorities depending upon the situation.
- Seeking help to heal – getting help from higher authorities as well as getting professional help to heal is very important.
Identifying a situation involving bullying, standing up and speaking and involving authorities to take action against the bully is the best way to put an end to bullies. And seeking professional help to help heal and carry on peacefully, the best for someone who has been a victim of bullying.