Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Standing Up for Others

One of the reasons I think bullying happens so much is that when people see someone being bullied, they don't do anything about it. I've seen it many times in the schools where I've worked. One kid is the target, one or a few kids are the bullies. And the rest of the kids who witness it just walk away because they're afraid they'll be the next target.

At the risk of generalizing, that seems to be the case especially with girls. When girls bully, it doesn't usually consist of slamming their target into lockers or fighting them after school. Instead, it's rumors, whispers behind someone's back, and snubbing. And often, the ringleader tells her friends, "If you try to stop me, you're next." No one wants to have rumors spread about them in the halls or on social media, so no one says anything to stop the bullying. And some of the girls join in to prove they're on the bully's side so she doesn't go after them next.

Sometimes all it takes to stop a bully is for one person to step forward and say, "Enough. Stop." That isn't easy to do. I've seen adults in the workplace who are reluctant to stand up to a bully (and believe me, bullying does happen in workplaces), and it's even more difficult for teens, for whom other people's opinions are one of the most important things in life. But speaking up can help stop bullying. At the very least, it lets the person who's being bullied know that it isn't okay and that they aren't alone, and that could be the difference between that person being around ten years from now or choosing to end their life to stop the bullying.

In my short story "Life Skills," which released yesterday from Featherweight Press (http://www.featherweightpublishing.com) as part of their Helping Hands line of stories that benefit GLBT youth charities, Brian Monahan has been bullied because of his sexuality. He doesn't have much tolerance for bullies, and he's strong enough to stand up for himself. When he sees Nora, a girl from his school's Life Skills class, being bullied in the cafeteria, he knows Nora isn't able to stand up for herself, so he steps in. And he goes a step farther, starting a "Spread the Word to End the Word" event at his school to encourage students not to use the word "retard" and not to bully kids with special needs.

Brian makes a difference at his school. What can you do to make a difference for someone you know who might be (or have been) bullied?

3 comments:

  1. There's a great book I read recently called Some Girls Are by Courtney Summers. It's about a group of bullies who turn on one of their own. The bully becomes the vicitm and has to befriend some of the people she messed with. Really interesting.

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  2. Unfortunately, that happens a lot in real life...

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  3. So much is reported about bullies and bullying, but you make an excellent point about the importance of Expressing Disapproval towards Bad Behavior.

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