By Lana Turnbull
Everywhere we turn there is another news story about the rise in bullying in our schools and online. The problem has gotten so bad that last year, one-third of middle school and high school students said they were bullied. And while the increased incidence of bullying among older students 12 – 18 is more pronounced, elementary school students are certainly not immune to it.
We tell our kids to tell somebody, a trusted adult if they are bullied or if they see someone being bullied. We all hope if our kids are being bullied they would come to us, but if not us, someone who can help. We also teach our kids to speak up if they see someone else being bullied. It’s not easy, but when kids stand up to bullies, it can make a difference. According to one study, in more than half of bullying situations (57 percent), when a peer intervenes on behalf of the kid being bullied, the bullying stops.
As I was thinking about bullying and what our kids are having to endure or, at the very least, witness every day, it made me curious about what is happening among adults.
According to Psychology Today, it turns out most adults encounter grownup bullies at some point in their lives. It can be the intimidating boss or coworker, a controlling romantic partner or family member, an unruly neighbor, a rude salesperson or an aggressive driver. We certainly have all witnessed adult bullying, even if we were not the target.
Question: What would you do if you were bullied at work? If you witnessed a bullying incident at work, would you confront the bully and take up for the person being bullied?
The answers are complicated. In some situations, the consequences of how you respond can be serious and far-reaching. But still, we would like to think we would do the right thing, in the right way. One thing is for sure, we all have basic human rights to stand up for. Psychology Today highlights these rights we all recognize, but sometime need reminding about.
We have the right to be treated with respect.
We have the right to express our feelings, opinions and wants.
We have the right to set our own priorities.
We have the right to say “no” without feeling guilty.
We have the right to get what we pay for.
We have the right to have opinions different than others.
We have the right to take care of and protect ourselves from being threatened physically, mentally or emotionally.
We have the right to create our own happy and healthy life.
How we practice these rights may differ from situation to situation, for example at work vs. at home, with a stranger vs. an acquaintance or neighbor, and whether the bully is physically threatening or emotionally hostile and demeaning. The decisions about how we act and react to bullying are personal but it might be a good exercise to ask…’what would my child do?’ ‘Would they be proud of how I handled the situation?’ It’s something to think about.