This week I’d like to share some thoughts on bullying. Many of us first experience it as children, but it is just as likely to take place at Uni, in the office, at the café – in short, wherever people get together. Bullying has been defined many times, so I don’t need to go into that here. What I will discuss is what to do about it.
Bullying is hard to pin down, it skulks in shady corridors and often lurks behind a smile. But you know it’s there. Especially if it is directed at you. Bullying actually has a lot in common with rape – you know it’s happened but it can be hard to convince other people to believe you. And even if they do, there might not be any action taken. Excuses are made for the bully, and the victim finds herself isolated and violated again.
So I’m writing this for all those of you who see it, whether it’s happened to you or to someone else. Bullying can be defeated, but only in the light of day. We need to stand together and support one another, and to end bullying where we see it. So, how is it done? Remember playground fights as a kid? We try not to get that physical these days, but it’s still about standing up for oneself. But it’s about everyone standing up. It’s about compassion and love, in deeds and not just in words. And here are some simple suggestions.
Question. Get communication flowing.
Talk to the bully: “Why did you not invite Ceila to the party?” Or “why did you ask Gareth to present the project and not Bill?”
Talk to the bullied.
“I saw what happened. Let me know if I can help. You are not alone. I’m here to support you.” “Are you going to the dinner tomorrow? Would you like to sit with me?”
Call attention to the problem, in public.
Shine the light. “Well, this has happened a few times already. It’s beginning to look like bullying. What do you people make of it?” Or you can call it more firmly: “No, this looks like bullying to me. It’s wrong. Let’s start over and get a fair process.”
Make a stand.
“This is bullying and I want nothing to do with it. It is wrong. You should know better”
This is how a better world is made. By individual people, standing up for what is right. This is the sort of action that enables the bullied to stand up for herself. It is the sort of action that helps end unhealthy cultures of negativity. It is the sort of action that brings about change.
One person cannot do everything – but we do have a moral obligation to do what we can. So let’s speak up for those who need our voices to show them the way. And you know, you’ll feel so much better for it.
Vild Prestegard is an anthropologist, holistic therapist, Reiki master and public speaker based in Norway. She is a regular blogger for Cycle Harmony. You’re welcome to contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org with questions and comments.
P.S. I just realized that there was a typo in the title. It should be “Grown-up Bullying.”