How to be an Advocate for Victims of Bullying?
Anyone can be a victim of bullying. It happens everywhere (school, workplace, home, and more), and it does not discriminate when it comes to its victims. Bullying has long been an issue in the society. It has existed since time immemorial. Various anti-bullying measures have been come up and tried to put a complete end to this long-standing issue. However, despite the immense effort of the anti-bullying advocacy, bullying still persists up until now.
What is bullying?
Bullying is the deliberate misuse of force and threat through repeated verbal, physical, or social behavior that is intended to cause harm to others. It is abusive and aggressive; and it is often done to dominate or intimidate. Bullying is different from a mere conflict between people. Under the former, harmful actions are commonly done by people who possess more influence or power over their victims. In other words, bullying involves power tripping.
Bullying takes various forms. It can be physical, verbal, or social. Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, punching, pushing, and other hurtful physical actions. On the other hand, verbal bullying includes insults, intimidation, name-calling, teasing, and more. Social bullying then includes spreading rumors, mimicking unkindly, and damaging the social reputation of a person.
What can you do to help victims?
Bullying is widespread and ubiquitous. It can occur to anyone, anywhere. More often than not, it happens covertly. Victims suffer in silence because of fear and shame. With this, it is indeed difficult to put an end to bullying entirely. Combating bullying requires the strong and concerted efforts not just of governments and non-governmental organizations, but also of individuals. To put it differently, the anti-bullying advocacy should start on the personal level. Below are some of the measures that you can do to help combat bullying and advocate for its victims.
Be observant of the people around you
As previously stated, bullying often happens covertly. It takes place in areas with little to no supervision (e.g. school hallways and street sides). Its victims often suffer in silence because they are too afraid or ashamed to speak up. For this reason, learning about the warning signs for bullying is a necessary measure to combating such hostile behavior.
Commonly, people who are being bullied manifest a number of physical and psychological signs. These include unexplainable bruises and injuries; frequent headaches or stomachaches; change in eating habits; difficulty in sleeping; avoidance of social situations; decreased self-esteem; and self-destructive behaviors like self-harm. When you observe these signs on a person close to you, immediately reach out to them.
Be always available to listen
Victims constantly suffer from the tremendous effects of bullying. More than the physical bodies, bullying greatly affects the mental and emotional well-being of its victims. Oftentimes, these victims only need a friendly ear to listen to them. They need a person whom they can trust, and who can empathize with them.
When a victim of bullying decides to open up to you, do not hesitate to lend them an ear. Make them feel like they are being heard. Do not show any sign of judgement on your part. Instead, empathize with them, and tell them that there is absolutely nothing to be afraid or ashamed about. Being a victim of bullying is not something that should be kept in silence. If there are people who deserve to feel embarrassed about this moral turpitude, it should be the bullies.
Do not be afraid to stand up
Standing up to bullies is necessary in preventing and eliminating bullying that is embedded in the society for far too long. Aside from lending a friendly ear, you also need to speak up and let your voice be heard with a call to action. Remember, evil thrives in silence. It persists for as long as the good do nothing.
When you refuse to take part in the anti-bullying advocacy and choose to remain silent about your anti-bullying sentiments, you are somehow deciding to be an enabler. By not speaking up, you are allowing bullies to continue doing their thing. If you want to be advocate for victims of bullying, do not be afraid and hesitant to stand up and speak up for them.
Indeed, the anti-bullying advocacy should start on the personal level. You, as an individual, can do so much to help combat bullying and its harmful effects on victims. Bullying is a social justice issue. The fight against bullying requires the cooperation of every part of the society, from the government to the individuals. Everyone has the right to live in a safe and secure environment. Along with this, everyone carries the same duty to ensure that all members of the society live in peace and security, far from the viciousness of bullying.