Social media has turned bullying on its head. Faceless words and taunts online for everyone to see hurts in a whole new way.
Online or in the flesh, bullying sucks. Recess Music recently came out with a comp of anti-bullying tracks called “Big Bully: The Best Foot Forward Series” featuring songs like “Bully Bubba,” “I’m Sorry,” and “No Put Downs.” It’s cutesy and kiddie-centric, but it got me thinking about being bullied and bullying as a kid and coping mechanisms I wish I was armed with back then.
Confidence – I think kids with healthy self-esteem and confidence are better prepared to cope with bullying. They know the difference between exaggerated words or actions of a bully and the reality of their own self worth.
A sense of humor – Bullies love a reaction. Sometimes survival means being able to get the joke (even if it’s not funny) and show you’re a good sport. It’s no fun for bullies to pick on someone who is crazy enough to go along with the insults.
Empathy – Bullies generally don’t bully because they absolutely loathe you. In fact, it could be the opposite – they could be jealous. Or, maybe they’re trying to look cool to someone else. Sometimes the bully has some serious problems at home or is being bullied by someone else – or a combination of these things and more. If you think about it that way, it’s easier to understand their behavior. It doesn’t make it right, but a little empathy goes a long way.
Healthy (offline) interests – Everyone needs a hobby, club, sport or outside interest. They work in your favor in a number of ways. First, they are generally productive and help build self-esteem; second, you get to meet people with similar interests (new friends! FTW!); and finally, they are a huge distraction from the negative forces in your day-to-day (e.g., bullies).
Compassion to not bully – So you’re being bullied or you’ve been bullied. You know it hurts and it sucks. Don’t pay if forward. There is no balance of the universe when you bully because you’ve been bullied.
Knowing when enough is enough – There usually feels like there’s too much at stake to rat out a bully, that being labeled a rat is worse than any physical harm or blows to self-esteem. But there comes a time when you have to threaten with action and take action if all else fails.