Bullying doesn’t just happen in the playground. It can be a major problem for older teens and young adults too. Here are some important insights about bullies plus strategies you can use to protect yourself.
“Beth* never thought much about bullying until her freshman year at a state university. She was suddenly shunned by a group of girls who she thought were her friends. They ignored her for no reason and made everyone else turn their backs on her. The new learning and fun experience that should have been her freshman year, turned out to be extremely depressing. She would attend classes and then head straight to her dorm room to cry for hours. She felt helpless and so alone”
Like Beth, anyone can be a victim of bullying. Whether it happens physically, verbally or emotionally bullying can take a toll on your state of mind. However, it’s important to understand that just because someone has the intention of bullying you and turning you into a victim, it doesn’t mean you have to be one.
Here are some interesting insights on bullying. These statistics and information comes from on the Annual Bullying Survey 2015, by Ditch the Label — the UK’s largest anti-bullying charity. The survey was conducted in partnership with 73 schools and colleges across the UK:
- 43 percent of young people have been bullied. 44 percent of these are bullied at least once a week.
- 50 percent of young people have bullied another person. 30 percent of these do it at least once a week.
- Appearance is cited as the number one trigger for bullying, with 51 percent saying they were bullied because of attitudes related to how they look.
- 74 percent of those who have been bullied, have also been physically attacked. 17 percent have been sexually assaulted. 62 percent have been cyber bullied.
- As a result of bullying, 29 percent harmed themselves, 27 percent skipped class, 14 percent developed an eating disorder and 12 percent ran away from home.
- The highest risk of bullying occurred in the following groups — people who had any kind of disability, and groups related to gender and sexuality plus those who were from low income backgrounds.
How to Protect Yourself
It’s often difficult to speak to someone about what you’re going through because opening up would mean being vulnerable. Yet when it comes to bullying, it is essential to communicate with those you know you can trust, be it a close friend or relative, a colleague or a teacher or supervisor at work. Seeking a helping hand and having a great support system behind you will go a long way toward protecting yourself from being bullied. Having people by your side will work as an outlet for you to express how you are feeling inside and your support buddies can give you an important and helpful perspective that may differ from your own.
#2 “Kill” them with kindness
Bullies derive great satisfaction from knowing that they can instil fear and discomfort within you. This makes them feel powerful. To counter this, use smart verbal strategies. For instance, whenever a bully starts calling you rude names, instead of showing them the fear and anger that they are looking for, respond calmly. Say something direct like, “I’m leaving. Goodbye” or “I’m in a hurry, I’ll catch up with you soon.” Then confidently walk away. This will prove to them that their behaviour is completely ineffective and that you are not afraid of them.
#3 “I am NOT a victim”
You become what you think. There is no reason for you to be victim even though you have been bullied. When you think you are a victim, it gives the aggressors more power over you and the situation because you are more likely to give in to what they want. Mental strength is a powerful thing and portraying that you are a strong person makes it harder for you to be bullied. Understand that you are the only person in control of your life. No one can take that away from you without your permission. With that being said always walk with your head held high, your chin up and keep your back straight.
#4 Staying safe
It is important to know what can be done in order to prevent any harm to yourself, even if it means taking the longer route home from school or taking a roundabout route to your cubicle at the office just so you don’t pass a bully’s desk. Always be aware of your surroundings and the people around you. Be observant. Standing next to an authority figure like a teacher or a supervisor will help protect you from bullies. In addition, remember to refrain from being alone in unsupervised areas with the bully either at school or at your office. For instance, don’t go into the bathroom if you just saw the bully enter.
Have you ever wondered how a bully ended up being that way? At times these bullies reflect the frustration, anger or hurt they feel inside because they do not know how to get rid of negative emotions. At other times it is because they are the victims of bullies themselves. Speak directly to them about how you feel about the whole bullying situation, in a respectful and calm manner. Although this may not be easy and definitely needs a lot of bravery on your part, a gentle discussion may just help protect you from being bullied. There have been recorded cases where bully victims have managed to stop bullies from carrying on with their aggressive behaviour, after having a heart to heart.
Fighting fire with fire is never a good idea. If you approach your bully with violence, things are only going to get worse. Violence is never the answer. However, there is nothing wrong in learning how to protect yourself in case your bully physically attacks you. Take up self-defence classes so you can learn to protect yourself. You will benefit a lot by taking up karate, boxing or jiu jitsu as these activities will help you feel less anxious, will teach you self-respect, boost your confidence and it’s great for your mental and physical health too.
There will always be people who want to have control over other people’s lives but when you take control over your own life and become empowered by your inner strength, there won’t be any room for anyone else to control you. Just as there are people who choose to be bullies, you too can choose not to be a victim.
Protection from Cyber bullying
According to NoBullying.com, Malaysia is ranked the 17th highest nation worldwide for cyber bullying. Being bullied in virtual reality happens 24 hours a day, seven days a week and messages and images can be posted anonymously and distributed quickly to a very wide audience. Here are some ways to protect yourself from cyber bullying.
- Never open messages from strangers.
- Do not respond to an angry message with anger. Instead, cool off first and reply when you feel like you can control your emotions.
- Save inflammatory social media posts or copy insulting or threatening messages. Hand them over to the authorities as well as the media to promote awareness.
- Contact the web host and inform them on what’s going on so that they can take action.
If you are being bullied and there isn’t anyone to turn to, here are 2 hotlines (Open 24 hours) that you can turn to:
Childline (Specifically for those under the age of 18) – 15999
Befrienders – 03-79568144/03-79568145