Time to Stand Up to Bullies … But What If You Are the Bully?
Before CO-VID 19 hogged the headlines, you surely have come across the video of a nine-year-old boy Quaden Bayles, who was diagnosed with dwarfism achondroplasia as a baby. As he was getting into a car, he was pleading to his mother he didn’t want to go to school because his schoolmates have been bullying him.
The video went viral, garnering 23 million views and grabbing the attention of A-List celebrities who are well-known for playing heroes onscreen like Hugh Jackman, Mark Hamill, and Jon Bernthal. The most noteworthy cheerleader for the bullied boy was Los Angeles-based comedian Brad Williams, who also suffers from the same condition. Brad launched a GoFundMe page dedicated to the boy, which raised at least $500,000. The boy’s family eventually decided to donate the money to charity.
Quaden’s story may have a happy ending—at least for now—but there are rampant cases of bullying worldwide that don’t receive the same news-worthy attention that Quaden did. According to StopaBully.ca, one in seven Canadian children aged 11 to 16 are victims of bullying. Concerned citizens and organizations urge the public to take action to stop bullying by encouraging people to talk about it, establish a safe school environment, and promote a community-wide bullying prevention strategy. These are all good measures, but what if you’re the one committing the offense?
Admission is the first step
Recognizing that you’ve bullied someone and that the action is a mistake is an ideal first step to adjusting your behaviour. However, you also have to realize that admitting it to yourself is not enough, you have to reach out to the person you’ve offended and offer a sincere apology.
Individuals who have been bullied, on the other hand, may be reluctant to accept the apology right away, not because they are angry but because bullying affects their trust in people. The last thing you want is to force someone to accept your apology. Be patient and give it time. And it goes without saying that you have to truly show you are willing to change your bad behaviour.
At the same time, while you come clean about your mishap, know that bullying does not define you. It’s YOUR action, but you are more than your action.
There are various reasons why people resort to bullying behaviour, and it’s not a one size fits all. Take the time to understand what your own reason is. Perhaps you’re jealous of the schoolmate who’s racking up A+ grades in Math and you’re not doing as well. Or perhaps you’re envious your schoolmate got a birthday gift from their parents to go to Disneyland in Orlando, Florida and you’ve always wanted to go too. Doing a self-assessment will open your mind to solutions on how you can adjust your behaviour.
Other possible reasons are stress at home like a riff with a sibling or an event that has caused grief or sadness, such as the loss of a beloved pet.
Once you’ve come to terms with the rationale for your conduct, talk to a trusted individual whom you’ll feel comfortable with to share your story… without judgment. Speaking about it freely will help you understand that a resolve is possible.
Bullying is a critical issue among youth today. If you’ve been in the other side, however, know that change is possible, and the best time to make an effort to make things right is now.