Incidents of bullying and the serious impact it has on young people in particular is becoming more and more common in the media. However this is only a tiny representation of how bad it is or how many children it is affecting.
Bullying is defined as repeated physical, verbal or psychological aggression directed by an individual or group against others. Bullying can occur at any age, in any environment, and can be long or short-term
We have heard devastating stories about people self-harming and taking their own lives to get away from the physical but more times psychological pain. David Coleman (Clinical Psychologist) presented a very informative and honest television programme recently on RTE called ‘Bullyproof’. Some of the children featured had major struggles with their confidence, self-esteem and self-worth. The great thing about the series was the development of the individuals and to see their confidence build up again and liking who they were as a person.
Awareness is key here and as parents, teachers, coaches, etc we need to recognise the signs and be open to children so they are able to approach us if they are experiencing bullying. We need to highlight more about the affects and solutions to what is now becoming an epidemic in our schools, clubs and in particular social media. This is not a taboo subject, this is real life and it is happening every day to too many young people. A colleague of mine was coaching a young boy as young as 8 years of age on how to deal with bullying as it was having a terrible effect on his childhood.
If we are not aware of what is going on and a person has to deal with this on their own, can you imagine the psychological rollercoaster experienced by an emotionally immature child. Research has shown that if a child does not learn to deal with bullying at a young age, the trend may very well continue throughout their life, be it in work, socially or in relationships. Do we want this for our children? I know I don’t.
Many victims are afraid to speak out as they fear the repercussions if the bully is approached by a third party. Reports have shown that as the victims mature, they are less likely to tell someone. They become more and more isolated, experience depression and, in extreme cases, can harm themselves or attempt suicide.
Our role as guardians is to create a safe and trusting environment for younger people to be able to approach us if this ever occurs. Be calm in your reaction and allow the person to speak. Ask them how they are feeling and bring their emotions to the surface. Get all the facts before you bring this up with the school / club etc. If your child needs outside assistance, let them speak to the right people and turn this into a learning experience. Stopping bullying is great but we also need to prevent it happening again.
We need to stamp out bullying and teach victims how to deal with it and avoid it going forward. We need to educate our young generation with tools to learn confidence and assertiveness. Teach them the communication skills to say NO with conviction, look the bully in the eye and stand firm, even if they are scared (communication is 7% words, 38% tone and 55% body language).
Too many young lives have been damaged and lost. It is always the bullies low self esteem and ignorance that causes them to act this way – it is never the victims fault.
Stand together and stand tall to eradicate this from our society.
By: Stephen Maguire – Performance and Development Coach
Tel : (087) 6346440