Make Love, Not War On Pink Shirt Day
No Bullies Allowed
Here's the deal. When it comes to harassment, what people tend to forget is the perception of harassment is based on how the target feels.
Sometimes, comments are made, and the person making comments might not be aware that what they are saying sounds awful for the person that they are talking to. They might be unaware that their comments are hurtful and are making the other person feel bad. Innocent things are said daily, and all it takes is one interpretation - one perception - to make what you might feel is a fairly innocent comment into something a bully might say.
Whether you use the term "bully", which sounds as though it is school based, or "harassment", which sounds decidedly more grown up, it's the same thing. It's about an imbalance of power, and disrespect, and sometimes on its most basic level, deep insecurity and fear. It often does not matter how the person doing the bullying might have felt; his or her target will perceive what is said in a particular way and that is what you have to consider.
Are we living in a society where people are often deemed to be too sensitive and take comments the wrong way? Absolutely, and the increasing popularity of text communications is not helping in that regard. While decidedly efficient on many levels, there is just too much that can be misconstrued via texting. That's not what's at issue here.
What's at issue is the countless people of many different ages that are endlessly bullied for who they are, what they look like, or simply for existing. There are countless people who have completed suicide because they couldn't consider any other way out of the bullying that they were dealing with. People who've gone from being bright eyed and confident to having little to no faith in themselves or the system that they find themselves in, because they've been told endlessly that no one will help them because they are worthless.
At school, there are kids who are being bullied daily, and while parents will intervene and teachers will be told about the behaviors, the victims are the ones often telling the grown ups or those in authority to not do anything for fear of reprisal. Workplaces and schools alike have zero tolerance policies about bullying and harassment, but what does that look like, exactly?
Bullies have become increasingly sneaky about how they play the system. With increasing use of technology, it's really easy to tell someone that you'll play nice and leave the victim alone, but who knows what happens in front of a computer or phone screen? A kid may screw enough courage up to tell a teacher what's been happening with them, but as soon as the bully is confronted, the bully might turn on the charm. It's no longer as simple as the movies and TV shows portray it, where the bully is obviously the big angry guy with huge muscles and a buzz cut.
It's the sweet faced little girl who says that she would never do anything to hurt someone's feelings.
It's the sort of nerdy kid who goes in front of his keyboard and says such vile things that you'd wonder where he'd learned the language.
Bullies are not so easy to detect in today's society, but those who stand up against bullying need to be prepared to listen to the kid who says it's actually happening. There has to be more done than simply telling the involved parties to stay away from each other.
It's far too easy now for bullies to keep doing what they're doing, and sometimes, not so easy for the victims to have their voices heard.
It Needs To Stop
Parents, Open Your Ears And Your Hearts
Two of the hardest things to do is accept that your child is being bullied and accept that your child might be the bully.
For those who have kids being bullied, there's the incredible pain of realizing that in spite of your best efforts, your child isn't always going to be protected from the nastiness that can be part of the outside world beyond your home. There are teachers and other supervisors that may not understand what is happening, and your child may have a hard time explaining it. All you know is that your child is in tears and you want to do anything you can to stop that from happening again. Your rational mind may not be fully present. It's important to simply be there for your child and do what you can - within reason - to make the situation better.
For those whose kid might be the bully, it's not a reflection of your parenting skills. However, you still need to be prepared to deal with the fact that your child is not the person you thought they were. You need to be aware that your child might have some meanness to them, or that they are lashing out against something. You need to realize that your child needs support in order that their behaviors be guided to a far more positive path than the one they are currently on, and you with the other adults in your child's life can help make that happen.
Ignoring the problem doesn't make it go away; only working together to make it stop can help.