By Dr. Joe Rubino
Bullying is a problem of alarming proportions that can cause children to diminish their self-esteem and begin the downward spiral of diminished expectations in life by creating a self-fulfilling prophesy that the world is a harsh and dangerous place and they do not possess what is necessary to thrive or even survive in such an environment. It is estimated that there are approximately 2.7 million children that are the victims of bullying each year. Frequently, the bullies themselves are the victims of abuse at home and their actions are an attempt to exert domination over those weaker than themselves. Bullying can take the form of physical or verbal abuse, name calling, gossiping and rumor generation, destruction of another’s clothes or possessions, and the growing problem of cyberbullying. No matter what form bullying may take, the following behaviors are effective ways for those bullied to deal with any bullying episode.
1. Don’t take the bullying attack personally (even though it may seem to be awfully personal!) Ask yourself, what must it be like in the bully’s world to have him or her do such a horrible thing to another person? Remember, that the bully is acting out because he or she feels unloved, abused, frustrated, or otherwise dominated or controlled. The bully’s actions can be seen as a cry for help. The person being bullied merely represents a convenient way for the bully to feel temporarily powerful and in control of his or her life. We certainly do not condone this reprehensible behavior but when you realize that their bad behavior is an indication of the internal pain and the low self-esteem they are experiencing, you can understand that their actions are about them, not the person bullied as the object of their aggression.
2. Communicate the situation with a teacher, parent, or adult authority figure right away. Do not think that you are being weak by telling on the bully. The bully is a sick individual and needs help, guidance, education, behavioral correction and often times will need to pay the price for what is often criminal behavior. In most cases, by exposing the bully’s behavior and having adults communicate the dire consequences it deserves, the bullying will cease to exist because the bully will realize that this unacceptable behavior brings with it serious legal consequences and punishments.
3. Don’t allow the bully to intimidate you. Know that you can effectively stop his or her bad behavior with the assistance of others. Bullying is a criminal act and should be treated as such. If you see others being bullied, notify the authorities and take a stand that further violations will not be tolerated. Bullies thrive on intimidation and fear. Stay strong and confident, get support, and know that the situation will work out well in the end.
4. Request the support of friends to join you in taking a stand against the bully’s behavior. Social pressure condemning such actions is a powerful deterrent to put a bully in his or her place. When the bully realizes that such intolerable offenses merit punishment, social condemnation, and have no place in a civilized society, he will realize that he has no choice but to cease such activity.
5. Build your self-esteem. The better you feel about yourself the less you will fall prey to the sick behavior of others. You have the personal power and no one can take that away from you. Only you can allow your self-esteem to be diminished and only you can do what it takes to restore it. Speak with a knowledgeable counselor or competent self-esteem elevation coach, take on a self-study personal development program that will support you to increase your charisma, personal effectiveness, and ability to deal successfully with challenging situations and difficult people. Know that every problematic situation is there for your education, increase in knowledge and wisdom and can serve as a valuable lesson that you can use to grow in empathy and understanding. Consider such challenges as gifts you need to grow personally and spiritually and be better able to contribute your gifts and wisdom to others as a result of what you’ve learned through the process.