Despite perhaps being most commonly associated with children, bullying is sadly not only confined to the school playground. There are incidents of bullying in the workplace, and our increasing use of smartphones and social media has meant that this behaviour can now follow us home, where we were once guaranteed respite. The impact that bullying can have on a victim's confidence, mental health and relationships can be significant at any age, and Anti-Bullying Week aims to spread kindness and support to those in need.
We are told repeatedly from a young age that bullying should not be tolerated and that it usually comes from a place of insecurity or jealousy, but this does not mean the words or actions of bullies are less hurtful. We are advised to ignore or simply bat away unwanted comments, neither of which tackle the behaviour or equip us with the tools needed to deal with it.
"Sticks and stones may break my bones but words will never hurt me" is not a phrase that I agree with. Whilst I appreciate its sentiment, it should be acknowledged that words can be equally, if not more, hurtful. Being affected by the words of others is in no way a sign of weakness or fragility and, anecdotally, I have heard of more instances of snarky remarks being thrown around the workplace than physical objects.
The Be Kind movement was established in 2015 but gained significant momentum in the wake of Caroline Flack's tragic death by suicide in February 2020. There was a surge of #bekind posts on social media and articles about the need to be less judgemental and more understanding flooded the media. It was not long, however, before the all-too-familiar news headlines, uninvited direct messages and public trials came creeping back in.
I have been fortunate enough to have never experienced bullying first-hand; however, that is not to say I have not been exposed to it or witnessed the effects it has on others. Whether or not we have been the victim of bullying, as friends, colleagues, parents or teachers we all have a responsibility to tackle this issue. Everyone should be afforded the opportunity to be happy and safe in their schools, homes and work places. We should also feel reassured that the organisations in which we have chosen to place ourselves have a way of protecting us from being subjected to bullying.
What better time to refocus our attention on this issue than during Anti-Bullying Week? And what better way to be an ally of this movement by standing up, speaking up, and ensuring that we know where to seek support and advice for ourselves and those around us if and when required.
Below are a few of the many organisations that can assist if you are in need of support at this time.
- Anti-Bullying Alliance: https://anti-bullyingalliance.org.uk/tools-information/advice-and-support
- National Bullying Helpline: 0300 323 0169
- Samaritans: 116 123
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