What do you think of when you hear the word “bullying”?
A playground is likely a common visual. The screams of happy children in the background. The heartbreaking scene of a child getting pushed around by another in the foreground — not just physically, but verbally.
But bullying doesn’t just live in school hallways or the playground. Cyberbullying among young people occurs more frequently because of easy access to digital devices and social media. And bullying doesn’t just happen to children: Adults are experiencing it in the workplace at an alarming rate — 60.3 million workers report being affected.
Bullying can mean different things for children and adults, but at its core, it’s unwanted, aggressive behavior that is threatening, humiliating and abusive. At times it can be physical, but, especially for adults, bullying is psychologically damaging and emotionally abusive. It can cause poor performance at school and work, in addition to other negative societal impacts.
It’s a problem, to say the least. As National Bullying Awareness Month approaches, here are a few ways we can combat it in schools and the workplace to create a better environment for all:
Being bullied can be an extremely intimidating experience, but so can admitting that it is happening to you. School professionals and parents should talk to their children about what bullying is, and encourage them to speak to a trusted adult if it ever happens to them or if they see it happening to someone else.
In the workplace, establishing a culture of kindness through educational sessions about bullying and giving employees an avenue for reporting this behavior is essential. Oftentimes, bullies are leaders of a business, so it is important to provide a chain of reporting (through human resources, if possible) that allows employees to speak up about their experience without fear of losing their job. Rewarding employees for reporting instances of bullying to themselves or others can also help reduce it in the workplace.
Staying quiet about or ignoring a potential problem does not promote an open and transparent culture at school or work. Talking about bullying — whether it’s happening or not — is an important step in understanding whether it’s happening in your location, and showing your students or employees you’re concerned and aware. Ask students or employees pointed questions regularly about what this type of behavior is and whether they see it happening. And assure them you are there to help.
In a world where you can be anything, be kind.
The best way to combat a negative behavior is with a positive one. Exhibiting what kindness looks like on a daily basis will help establish that kind of culture in your environment. Kids are the most impressionable in this regard, but adults can be influenced by it too — should there be no other person exhibiting unkind behavior, it may stop a bully in his or her tracks.
Promote kindness at work or school with our “Be Kind” apparel! Deadline is Sept. 6.