Is it really that simple? This week has been anti-bullying week but bullying is something which is experienced by many every day of the year and it can have a huge, and sometimes tragic, impact on both the individual and their families. No-one really knows why bullies select the individuals they choose to bully, but individuals experiencing neurodiversity are often a prime target for bullies. This year, the theme for Anti-Bullying Week is #REACHOUT. But my question would be - is it really as easy as that?
The way a bully could make their victim feel, they could make them feel so insecure, that they would most likely hide their feelings and not reach out even to someone that they trust. This is mainly because the victim could be labelled as “weak” or face other insults that make life difficult for them to access support.
One thing I also find myself disagreeing with is the whole narrative that bullying is seen as something that has to be experienced “several times on purpose” for it to be called bullying. This to me, goes to signal that treating someone badly in any form is acceptable once or twice, but is only truly bullying if it is more constant. For some people, even hearing the word sorry because bullying behaviours have been experienced a couple of time, is not enough. Yes, unfortunately, some bullies don’t even mean their apology which is beyond outrageous to me considering the suffering an individual and their family can be subject to. Some bullies don’t apologise at all for their actions.
In support of Anti-Bullying week, odd socks are worn by the masses to showcase individuality and diversity. Beyond this though, I feel like words are very powerful and there needs to be extensive work done across the board to give people an insight to what the consequences should be for a bully. I’m of the belief that, if they knew they would face harsher consequences for the lesser known and more subtle styles of bullying, then this may be a deterrent, and the existence and the severity of bullying would hopefully decrease. Equally we need to be promoting the message that to be kind. It costs nothing to do so and if everyone did more of this, we wouldn’t need to be looking for punitive deterrents to bullying.
During the past couple of days, I have engaged in discussions with people in the community of neurodivergent individuals, and members of one online community I am part of mentioned how they were subject to confidence issues as a result of bullying. One individual mentioned how having a supportive and understanding group of friends at high school and still to this day, helped to remove those negative feelings all the way back from Primary School.
I was also proud to discover that another person I spoke to has become an anti-bullying ambassador at her high school. I was first made aware of this scheme via something I saw online a couple of years ago through the Diana Award. I firmly believe this is a great initiative and if we can do more to stamp out bullying in schools, we stand a better chance of creating an world in which bullying is less prevalent. Always remember, that the strength of the majority overpowers the strength of the minority. I believe that bullies are a minority of individuals who don’t understand the values of respect, whereas the majority of people are good-natured and create a great community where people are healthy and happy. It could also be that those who bully face their own challenges and insecurities so understanding why someone becomes a bully will be useful in helping to stamp it out.
We would all love to see bullying wiped off the face of the Earth. By working together and sharing personal stories, I would hope that this would see a change. One small change can lead to a much better set of circumstances.