Those who can, do. Those who can’t, bully.

01 Nov 16

The quote rings loud and true and this month I want to take a few moments to talk about bullying. We all hear about it, read about it, and are encouraged to ensure children in our communities are not being bullied. But, do we really understand the impact of bullying? I definitely didn’t up until very recently. I would read stories in the news or see posts on social media related to keeping an eye out for bullying and stepping in to help and I would glance over them and move on. It was not until I was a victim of bullying that I truly realized the impact of it and as they say you have to live it to understand it.

Bullying doesn’t stop in schools or as you grow up. Whenever you step into the world to do something, you take a risk that you will encounter a bully. And when a bully is successful in his campaign of destruction on his victim, he will cause you to believe that you are responsible for everything that is happening to you. It is no different than the victims of abuse or assault that may have questions in their mind about whether they did something to provoke it. And at that point, it is very critical for the individual to understand that there is nothing you can do that deserves that kind of a response whether it be bullying, abuse, or assault.

An incident with a bully in a professional situation made me realize that this doesn’t stop when we grow up. But, further, it really helped me realize the strong impact an incident such as this can have on someone. I consider myself a fairly strong person but the incident really shook me to my core, had a negative impact on my ability to do all the things I loved at work and at home, and I could not stop asking myself did I somehow provoke this behavior. I had to work hard to tune out the pointless noise, concentrate on the task at hand and what I was trying to accomplish, and get the rubbish questions around whether this was my fault out of my head.

I was blessed to have support from my husband who patiently helped me work through the confusion I was feeling and helped me realize that I had to learn to let it go quickly. I can honestly say I don’t think I would have gotten over the situation that quickly if it hadn’t been for his support and words of wisdom.

As I moved on, it made me wonder if it can have such a devastating impact on me – an adult who considers herself fairly strong, how could a child handle such a situation? Most children have not seen tough situations in life, are still trying to figure out who they are, and are extremely fragile and sometimes insecure. An incident like this would be a thousand times more devastating for a child and if I could not get over it without someone standing by me, how would a child?

And would a child even know to ask for help? As adults, we form strong relationships with family, friends, or spouses where we share details of our lives and get more comfortable asking for help. However, a child may not have that comfort to share what is happening and ask for help. So, it becomes our duty to watch for changes in behavior and try to look for signs of whether a child is being bullied and form relationships based on trust where they can feel comfortable coming to us and talking about these things.

In our lives, we tend to get pulled into the chaos of balancing work, social life, home, and family. And, even though we may notice changes in behavior, don’t take the time out to truly understand what might be causing it. After my recent experience, I highly encourage everyone to try and not fall into the trap of our busy lives and take the time to talk to the children in our lives. Make sure incidents such as this are not a part of their lives because it will have a long lasting impact on their future and who they become as adults. As we enter the South Asian Holiday Season followed by the American Holiday Season, I wish everyone a house full of family, love, food, and celebrations. Happy Diwali!