Buddies Over Bullies
Happy Bullying Prevention Month!
This month is particularly important for the Silver Lining Foundation as it reminds us of the genesis of the foundation – to serve as a guardian body for marginalized youth who are or have been victims of bullying, seeking to prevent suicide and discrimination. While our primary focus is centered on youth under the framework of sexual diversity and gender identity and expression, we are charged with tackling bullying and discrimination as a general notion.
Bullying Prevention Month serves as a time that we can rally together to tackle the issue of bullying and raise awareness of bullying prevention. October has been delegated as Bullying Prevention Month since the inception of the Bullying Prevention Month campaign in 2006. The concept of bullying is one that is often times dismissed by persons in positions of power, whether on the parental level or the governmental level. As discussed in one of our many bullying features, Bullies Are Made, instances of bullying are not properly attended to or, worse, overlooked. In Trinidad and Tobago, being a bully is frequently and repeatedly seen as “survival of the fittest”, a misleading concept in the general framework of masculinity. This paradigm gravely disregards the gravity of the problem of bullying in our schools.
How can we encourage bullying prevention? Firstly, bullying prevention requires education. One should familiarize themselves with aspects of bullying: defining the term “bully”, identifying bullying behaviours – both on the part of the bully and the bullied and how to deal with bullying behaviours. Secondly, one should understand the causes of bullying and develop the skills to prevent and/or intervene bullying when it occurs. Thirdly, one MUST – not should – encourage the development of safe spaces, environments conducive to open and honest discussions about issues that can be difficult to either understand or address.
Tactics that may be employed in bullying prevention include:
- Swap Stories – children and teenagers may feel reluctant to talking about their experience(s), simply because they may feel ashamed or unimportant or that older people either cannot understand or cannot help. While each bullying experience is unique, hearing an older person’s story about their bullying experiences may be beneficial in helping a child or teenager talk about their experience. Get creative, if need be – utilize visual art, written art or any comfortable measure that will encourage an open and honest discourse. Talking about bullying can be helpful; share your story with children or teenagers and explain how it made you feel then and how it helped you. Reiterate that bullying should not happen and that it is not okay.
- Develop a Code of Honour – developing a Code of Conduct or Honour that clearly explains unacceptable behaviour and relate consequences can prove beneficial for preventing bullying in schools. Establish guidelines for proper reporting procedures as well, just to ensure the safety and security of all.
- Coach – children learn through a variety of ways – whenever you speak to another person in a violent way, you teach your child that bullying is okay. Setting a good example in your family life can also be beneficial to bullying prevention. You can demonstrate effective communication techniques for when you get angry at home or in public spaces. Instead or reacting out of anger or spite, coach your children and teenagers on what they should and should not to do in their peer interactions and what to do if someone is abusive to them or to another.
- Stand Up – victims of bullying respond to bullies passively or with retaliation. Neither option is okay. We must teach our children and teenagers to respond in these situations with a level of assertiveness and self-confidence. Assertive and confident responses neither provoke the bully nor reward them with submission. We must teach our children and teenagers to respond to a bully by the use of assertive and confident body language, facial expressions, words and tone of voice.
Bullying is a real and enormous problem; we must all do our part to stop it.
The list for bullying prevention measures is exhaustive but each tactic is easily adaptable to meet the needs of different individuals or groups, regardless of age or gender. This video, though religiously based, illustrates the effects of bullying and bullying triggers:
For more information on spotting signs on bullying, please see our resources:
And for more information on how you can create safer spaces and get involved with Bullying Prevention Month, please see these resources:
Remember: it’s always better to make friends, not foes.