Anti-Bullying Week 2023
It’s Anti-Bullying Week, and this year’s theme is ‘Make a noise about bullying’, something we feel strongly about at Red Balloon. We know that bullying is something which can seriously harm people’s mental health and even result in young people needing to move schools or leave formal education.
The effects of bullying
Bullying is generally defined as intentional hurtful behaviour, whether that be physical, verbal or emotional, that generally occurs repeatedly over an extended period of time. And while we generally think of bullying as something that happens to young people, the reality is that it can happen to adults as well.
Young people today not only have to deal with the standard face-to-face bullying situations, but also cyberbullying, namely any bullying which occurs online. This can be particularly difficult to deal with, as it follows them home; if bullying is happening on social media or messaging platforms, it can feel impossible to escape.
This year’s campaign deals with an important point; the fact that bullying can sometimes be excused by schools or young people as ‘banter’. While of course friends can joke around with one another, it’s important that everyone knows where the boundaries are; it’s never okay for someone to be teased about sensitive issues and if someone is upset by what is being said, it needs to stop.
Bullies and those around them can sometimes excuse their behaviour by putting blame on the other person, suggesting they are too sensitive or take things too seriously. The bottom line is, that if someone is distressed in any way, and the person continues with the comments or behaviour, that is bullying and should be dealt with accordingly.
Ways to help
It’s essential for young people to speak up and tell somebody about any bullying-related incidents, whether they happen to them personally or they are a witness to them. There is huge power in standing up against this sort of behaviour; bullying rarely stops without any intervention. Understandably, it can be very threatening to speak up directly to a bully at the moment, and so if they aren’t able to do this, it is really important that young people tell a trusted adult what is going on.
This is not only about stopping the situation but also about allowing the young person involved to access the emotional help and support they need to recover from the experience. Often bullying is accompanied by a feeling of embarrassment or even shame, and the only way to break this is to talk to someone and work through their feelings. If the bullying is happening online, there is also often the option to block and report the person.
Bullying is sadly something which still occurs far too often, across all age groups. At Red Balloon, we are well aware of the damage bullying can do, and we strive to create an environment where all our young people feel safe and secure. We strive to celebrate our differences, rather than allowing them to divide us.
So let’s make some noise about bullying, not just this week, but on a regular basis. Bullying is never okay, and standing up against it isn’t ever being overly sensitive; in fact, it’s showing great courage. Don’t underestimate the power of speaking up in these situations; you never know the difference you might make.
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