As part of Anti-Bullying week, Teen Breathe is encouraging everyone to stand up and Choose Respect
Imagine feeling too scared to go to school every day because you fear the horrible things that are going to happen. Will you get kicked? Will your money be taken off you? Will you be pushed around and subjected to humiliating name-calling at break?
Sadly, this fear is part of the daily lives of all too many teenagers, who end up depressed, scared and isolated as the result of others’ actions.
This week is Anti-Bullying Week and everyone is being encouraged to take a stand and raise awareness of the issue as well as to support those being targeted.
What is bullying?
Bullying can take many different forms. It is hurtful, unwanted behaviour repeatedly done on purpose. It can mean being called names, being teased or humiliated, having things taken off you, having rumours spread about you or being ignored or left out. It can also mean being threatened or intimidated or physically hurt.
Cyberbullying is another dangerous form. Social media sites should be safe, fun places, but they are also areas where bullies can wreak emotional havoc. These bullies go online with the intention of humiliating, hurting and upsetting others. Sometimes they do it anonymously, or using fake profiles, which makes it even scarier.
The effects of bullying can be hugely damaging to mental health and include depression, stress and anxiety. Those being bullied are also more likely to experience poor sleep and miss more schooldays, which affects their academic achievements.
The key message of Anti-Bullying Week is to ‘Choose Respect’. Bullying is a choice. And it’s one that can be refused. Instead, choose to respect others. Everyone has the right to live their lives happily, whatever their background, gender or heritage.
A dislike of another student’s clothes, opinions or beliefs doesn’t equal the right to make them feel bad. Not everyone is going to get along and there’ll often be disagreements of opinion and differences in lifestyles, but everyone still deserves respect. Likewise, if you see someone being treated badly, be a role model and show respect by sticking up for them. Make it clear you don’t like bullying behaviour.
What can you do if you or someone you know is being bullied?
Don’t blame yourself – know that it isn’t your fault. It doesn’t matter what you look like, what trainers you wear, how you speak, walk or talk – we are all different in some way. It’s what makes us unique and amazing. No one has the right to bully you or anyone else. Everyone has the right to feel happy every day and there are people who can help you stop the bullying.
Don’t suffer in silence. Tell someone what’s going on. You could talk to a trusted adult, such as a parent, guardian, teacher or school support worker. Perhaps write down what’s been happening if you struggle with the words. No one should suffer in silence. Be proud of yourself. Speak out to help make your own life better – and get the respect you deserve – as well as to prevent other young people having to experience similar upset and trauma in the future.
Trained counsellors are also available 24/7 at Childline on 0800 1111. You can also email them or a have a 1-2-1 chat online at childline.org.uk
The BullyingUK helpine is available on 0808 800 2222 or visit anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk website for support.
Follow the Anti-bullying Week events on social media using #antibullyingweek #abw18
- Words: Donna Findlay
- Image: Shutterstock