October marks the the start of cooler days, lots of layering, pumpkins and goblins and trying to hang on to the fading light (and warmth) of summer. It also marks the start of a couple very important crusades. One of them is National Anti-Bullying Month.
Whether you have been a victim of a bully, bullied someone else or have been on both sides of the spectrum, bullying is something that affects everyone. Bullying is linked to many negative outcomes including impacts on mental health, substance use, and suicide. In today’s society bullies can even hide behind a computer screen on facebook or email and never have to confront the victim or see how they are affecting that person. The internet has become a weapon that can be used day or night and school (for some kids) has become a battlefield. Something they have to endure day after day.
Anti-bullying is the responsibility of everyone. You may think of a ‘bully’ as someone that taunts and torments an individual over and over again. But every time you look at someone in judgment for their weight, color of their skin, sexual preference, disability, or because they look different, you are essentially being a bully.
Bullying is something that is learned, a deadly cycle that needs to be broken. We need to teach our kids to be kind, not critical. We need to teach our kids to reach out, not isolate someone. Because really, you never know what an individual person is going through. There’s always a background story to what you see in front of you. You never know how your words can affect a person. There’s that old song kids used to sing that goes: ‘Sticks and Stones can break my bones, but Words can never hurt me’. The fact is, bones heal, but words can stay with a person for a lifetime. Choose your words carefully, they can build someone up or tear them down.
Recently I came across a video featuring a news anchor woman in Wisconsin that responded, on air, to an email a viewer had sent her regarding her weight. She used the opportunity to speak against bullying.
Here’s the advice she had for young people that are being bullied:
“To all the children out there who feel lost. Who are struggling with their weight, with the color of your skin, your sexual preference, your disability, even the acne on your face, listen to me right now. Do not let your self worth be defined by bullies. Learn from my experience that cruel words of one are nothing compared to the shouts of many.”
Check out the full video here.
One of my favorite shows right now is Glee. Not only do I love anything with singing and dancing (hello broadway dreams!) but the show really has a great message about having the courage to be yourself. Even in the face of great adversity and challenges. Even when the world seems against you or determined to keep you down. One of the best moments in the show comes from season 2 Regionals, when they sing ‘Loser Like Me’ and in the words of the Glee kids,
“Hit me with the words you got and knock me down. Baby I don’t care. Keep it up and soon enough you’ll figure out. You wanna be, you wanna be. A loser like me” 🙂 Check out the full video here.
So the next time you feel the need to judge someone, turn the mirror on yourself. We are usually most critical of others in the things we see in ourselves. Whenever you judge someone you are judging yourself first.
Now tell me, have you ever been bullied? Or bullied someone? What would you do if you saw someone being bullied? Would you take a stand?