Perhaps we first encountered bullying in the school yard, being taunted by our peers. Later, we may have been ignored or left out of a group. Perhaps we have felt picked on by a friend who “means well”. Maybe we’ve experienced online (cyber) bullying that damaged our reputation. Or we’ve been harassed (verbally or sexually) in the workplace by a supervisor or colleague. Do we know the signs?
The signs of bullying aren’t always clear. Bullying can be a racial slur, a sexist joke, an insult, taunting, teasing, inappropriate touch, or any behaviour toward us by someone or by a group of people and that serves to control, humiliate, undermine or put us down. It crosses a boundary, making us feel uncomfortable and ultimately it hurts our feelings. Bullying is violence.
And bullying is never okay!
What you can do in five important steps:
- Firmly tell your bully to stop, that it hurts and that you won’t tolerate this negative behaviour
- Leave the scene or situation, and never let yourself be alone with the bully
- Write it down–document the incident, along with the date and context
- Tell someone else whom you trust, about the incident
- Report the incident to authorities (school administration, human resources, police)
Avoid responding negatively to the bully by bullying back or by getting even. This only aggravates the situation. If bullying is allowed to continue, you risk striking out at others or re-victimizing yourself through self-recrimination and guilt. Know that you are not to blame. You have more power than you may feel in the moment. Remember to: SAY STOP, LEAVE, DOCUMENT and TELL/REPORT–take back your power–because bullying is NEVER okay!
-Kelly L. Howarth