Speaking Up Against Bullying: Tips for Being an Upstander and Not a Bystander

Speaking Up Against Bullying: Tips for Being an Upstander and Not a Bystander

Bullying definitions are diverse but often share similar traits. An act of bullying involves aggressive behaviour over a period of time that is unwanted on the part of the victim, has a negative impact on an individual(s) and involves an uneven balance of power. It is not a one-off incident but rather persistent and repetitive acts of aggression. The effects of bullying can be devastating, leaving one feeling weak, oppressed, threatened and vulnerable. Bullying includes actions such as making threats, spreading rumours, attacking someone physically or verbally and excluding someone from a group on purpose.

Various forms of bullying exist:

  • Physical bullying

Physical bullying entails the use of physical actions to gain power and control over their targets, and can include kicking, hitting, punching, slapping, shoving, taking things from someone, damaging their property or clothing and other physical attacks.

  • Verbal bullying

Verbal bullying involves the use of words, statements, name-calling and insults to belittle and demean another person. 

  • Sexual bullying

Sexual bullying targets a person sexually, through name-calling and sexual shaming, making crude comments about someone’s body, vulgar gesturing, uninvited touching, sexual propositioning, and sharing unsolicited pornographic materials. Sexual bullying can be a precursor to sexual assault. bullies manipulate social groups and situations to undermine the victim’s social standing and inclusion. 

  • Social or Relational bullying

Social bullying involves social exclusion, or affecting one’s friend circles and social support networks.

  • Cyberbullying

Cyberbullying entails the use of the internet, a smartphone or other technology to harass, threaten, embarrass, or target another person and can include posting hurtful images, making online threats, revenge porn and sending hurtful emails or texts. 

Types of bullying often overlap and reinforce one another and can have long-lasting psychosocial effects on LGBTQ+ students. It can affect one mentally and can result in behaviour changes – becoming withdrawn and seeking alone time or not speaking, reduced attention span and a lack of concentration. Anti-LGBT behaviour creates a hostile, uncomfortable and unsafe environment, preventing people from reaching their full potential. 

Bullying prevention requires education. While we may know what bullying is, knowing what to do can sometimes be difficult. Always remember that bullying is NOT your fault. Here are some tips to help you prevent bullying:

Speak Up

Do not be afraid to report any instances of bullying to someone in authority, even if it’s just a suspicion. Bullying prevention is best addressed by clear communication and pro-social actions. Empower yourself to create a safe environment and not be a bystander

Be a Buddy, Not a Bully

Be a friend to someone who is being bullied. Befriend someone who is being bullied. Include them in activities and support them where they need it. Being an understanding and supportive friend can mean so much to them and shows that you care.

The list of 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.



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