Do not forget to celebrate a special holiday this season, one that adds to the spirit of goodwill. The world stood together to #BlueUp on Monday, October 5, by wearing the color blue for the World Day of Bullying Prevention™ an initiative by Stomp Out Bullying™. Stomp Out Bullying™ is a nonprofit organization dedicated to bully prevention and helping the victims of bullying.
Bully Prevention Awareness
First things first: if you are a victim of bullying, whether verbal, physical, or online, please know that YOU ARE NOT ALONE. What you are feeling and what you are experiencing are valid. There are communities and organizations out there that are designed to specifically help you. IMAlive and Stomp Out Bullying™ both have helplines available.
Even if a community is not your thing, Stomp Out Bullying™ recommends empowering yourself. The website has a specific page with different skills on how to deal with bullies. It is broken down into skill sets; there is even a list of comeback lines to use against bullies who try to verbally bring you down. (Personally, my favorite from this list is “Pardon me, but you seem to think that I care.”)
Misha Collins, Random Acts’ co-founder and board president, has himself been a victim of bullying. His advice? Be kind. Be kind in response to those who would seek to hurt you. It empowers you and teaches the bullies that they cannot hurt you.
“Remember, bullies are often acting from a place of cowardice; they will often back down when they can’t get a reaction from their target,” Misha says.
“Zoom Bombing” & COVID-19
Social distancing, distance learning, and isolation have all led the world to seek out different ways to stay connected. Unfortunately, this does not mean that all connections are positive ones. Bullies are still out there, and they are increasingly using social media and video chatting to hurt people. This new method of harassment is called Zoom Bombing, which happens when bullies disrupt online meetings with vitriolic comments and behavior. Stomp Out Bullying™ dedicated a page of their website to Zoom Bombing awareness, how to recognize it (especially as it is happening), and what to do about it.
We are in a position in which our society has a new and unprecedented reliance on technology. With conferences and education taking place in many homes now, the access is literally closer to home. Yet, ironically, we cannot go back to a world where the phrase “social distancing” has no meaning. Cyberbullying during this time of isolation has been on the rise. With distance learning now being commonplace, the biggest concern is the children.
“Although cyberbullying has been around for a long time, we’re living in unprecedented times and when kids are stressed out and bored the opportunity to cyberbully is present,” Stomp Out Bullying™ states. “When kids are pulled out of the classroom and mandated to do distance learning, they will be in front of digital devices even more than ever [before]…”
According to the Center for Disease Control, 15.5% of high school students are cyberbullied and another 20.2% are bullied on school property. The percentages of individuals who have experienced cyberbullying at some point in their lifetimes have nearly doubled (18% to 34%) from 2007 to 2016 Patchin and Hinduja reported in 2016.
What to Do? Wear Blue!
According to the organization’s main page, they “chose blue because in many diverse cultures blue brings peace. The color conveys importance and confidence. For 12 years, this campaign has been so successful that it has gone global.”
Peace. Importance. Confidence. Your bully wants you to believe you cannot have these things. They are wrong.
On Monday, we will all stand together, and blue will be our shield against them. We will tell them that we are not what they say. We are not what they believe. If they want to join us, we have a blue shirt waiting for them.
Do not fight back with violence. Respond with kindness.