Dealing with Being Bullied
"Sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me"...really?
Being bullied is, unfortunately, something that we will never be able to avoid. Many think it only happens in schools, but it also happens in the adult world, be it in a sometimes more cunning or descrete manner, but it happens all the same.
School times were bad times...
Throughout my school life I was bullied. I was shorter than average, paler than average, skinnier than average, cleverer than average. I was different. So I was bullied. I was also independant - another word for that could be a 'loner', but I like 'independant' more. I never had many friends, and those I did have always seemed to betray me and turn on me in the end. So I lost trust in people. I came home crying every night. "Someone knocked my books out of my hand", "someone called me annorexic", "someone sniggered at me and shouted 'like your shoes...Geek!". I even recall a group of the bigger boys stealing my locker key, putting it on a ledge where I couldn't reach and laughing as I tried to get it down. These may all be minor things, but they built up until I couldn't handle it any more. My parents, of course, were worried sick about me. They must've felt so helpless. My Dad phoned the school and told them about it and they said, "So sorry, we understand, I'll have words with them," but did that stop it? No.
"You're so immature..."
Bullying is partly down to age and immaturity. It's a known fact boys mature more slowly than girls - when does a boy become a man? When he's about 25 - but that doesn't mean to say all bullies are boys. When girls get together they can be more viscious than a pack of lions, and the reason is because they think they are older than they are. They look down on people who don't meet their 'standards'. In a way, it's a form of snobbery.
"They're just jealous..."
If I had a penny for the amount of times someone's said that to me..."They're just jealous". A classic. I never believed them. How could anyone as tall, slim, pretty, popular as them be jealous of something as small, weedy and ugly as me. But you know what? No sentence could be truer. They're just jealous. You're clever, you concentrate in class, you're independant (you don't have to have all your girlfriends by your side to support you as you go to the toilet...) - you have a future. It is hard to believe when it's happening to you, so when you tell the child that all it is is jealously, don't expect them to wipe their tears, say, "Ahh right, I get it now!" and cheer up instantly. Be patient. These things take time. And only with time and experience did I learn that all along, they were just jealous.
We know that sometimes it's all just a big show. Someone might be nice to you when you're alone together, but as soon as their mates come along, BAM, they're a different person. Sometimes it's down to boys fancying the girl, and so they're mean to her...how that works I'll never understand... Sometimes it's because the bully secretly wants to be their friend but doesn't want their gang to kick them out for liking the 'dork'. It's a form of peer pressure - "laugh with the bully and you are the bully".
"He who bullies others is usually being bullied himself..."
Bullying can be a form of self-defence. His problems usually go deeper than that punch. Maybe they've been mistreated or felt unloved as a child and have a lot of anger towards others who are part of a loving family; maybe they feel like the whole world is out to get them so they feel the need to lash out at everything they see; maybe they point someone else's flaws out to hide their own.
How can we help the bullied?
mutual trust + a good rapport = a shoulder to cry on
Bullying is a tricky thing to deal with, there's no question about that. It's so important that you ask the child every day how they feel. If you have developed a great relationship with the child, they will feel more comfortable in opening up to you and telling you exactly what happened. Not only will you be able to then do something about it, but also they don't suffer in silence; they don't bottle up their feelings. They know that even though this horrible boy is insulting them right now, they have someone to go to and someone's shoulder to cry on when they get home. It's comforting. I can't tell you how scary, lonely and uncomfortable you feel in your own skin when you're being bullied. Don't let them suffer in silence.
Seek professional help
When I got to the age of about 13, I went to see the school's consellor. She wasn't a doctor, but she had a degree in psychology and specialised in helping children with their problems. Every bigger school should have someone that does what she did, so look into it, and if your child is open to it, I highly recommend they see someone. The advantage of this is that if there is something they feel that, for whatever reason, they cannot share with you, they might want to talk to someone else. They know that whatever they say is confidential and that it's safe to pour out those supressed feelings. Not only will the counsellor listen, understand and sympathise, but they may also be able to get to the bottom of the problem. My counsellor taught me about the reaction of fear in our subconscious minds and that it's only natural to have been feeling what I was feeling.
Releasing the emotions through exercise
When you're small and the bully is towering over you, trying to fight back might not be the best idea. Take a deep breathe and walk away. This can sometimes be a harder job than if you'd have gone ahead with that fight. But walking away makes you a stronger person than them, even if their muscles are the size of boulders!
However, there's nothing wrong with building up your physical strength just incase you ever need it. Self-defence classes, such as karate, can be good for this. Not only do they teach you how to defend yourself in physical situations, but punching and kicking can release all that anger and upset. Physical exercise also releases those all-important "happy hormones" in the brain, which could make your outlook a more positive one.
2009 By Daniella Wood