Bullying Is Everyone’s Problem
There is no doubt that bullying is a problem which has been around for a long time – within all forms of human interaction, there have always been those that not only feel superior to others but feel the need to demonstrate this at any cost. Where bullying was once mostly confined to the schoolyard, now more and more children are plugged in to the internet. This has made the problem significantly worse, becoming more insidious, dangerous and sometimes even fatal.
By now, most people will have heard about the B.C. girl who, having been relentlessly bullied for a number of years online, combined with her allegedly fragile state of mental health, felt it was necessary to end her own life. Sadly, she is certainly not the first to do this and will not be the last. While it is impossible to find any shred of positivity in the current situation, the fact is that social media allows more people to become aware of the severity of the problem. Although bullying will likely never be completely eliminated, this may lead to concrete measures being taken to severely diminish it over time.
While it is obvious that the bully and the bullied are the central players, the problem of bullying is far-reaching, affecting family, friends, entire schools and workplaces. It is no surprise that the majority of people who are aware that some form of bullying is taking place are more likely to ignore it rather than take action. However, it is a fact that by becoming involved, whether simply standing up to the bully on behalf of the victim or making friends with the victim (who are often in great need of friends), the bully will think twice about his or her actions. Of course, this is not always the case and sometimes a greater degree of intervention is needed.
The first step for anyone being bullied, or for those that suspect it is happening to someone, is to speak up. It is widely believed, particularly among kids, that ‘telling’ is akin to ‘tattling’ which is just not the case. The fear also may be that by telling someone they may inadvertently make the problem worse by angering the bully. While this is a genuine concern, it certainly should not be a reason to remain silent. Making bullying known through Facebook or some other form of social media may not always be the best idea as this can leave the victim open to even more abuse and torment from anonymous comments made by online bullies and ‘trolls’. Even if the victim is reluctant to speak up, they can still get support through one of the many anti-bullying organizations that exist online such as www.kidshelpphone.ca, www.pinkshirtday.ca and www.antibullying.net.
While it is obviously the victim of bullying that requires the most immediate help, one shouldn’t forget that by letting them continue their behaviour, the bully’s future can also be put in jeopardy. It is rare that a bully simply bullies for the sake of it and by getting help early on they can avoid problems later in life. According to Free From Bullies, 60% of adults aged 18-24 who once bullied end up with criminal convictions, a fact that can have an effect on society and the economy as a whole.
There is no simple solution to the problem of bullying and it is very sad that even adults who should know better can be just as guilty as children. The problem will not be stamped out overnight, but through talking, understanding and, most importantly, taking action, we can make small steps to fight back.