Take a Stand - Be a Buddy, Not a Bully

By Lori B. Painter, Lawyer at Metzger Wickersham

International STAND UP to Bullying Day is a semi-annual event when the world joins together to stand up against bullying in schools, on the playground, and on social media. This year it’s observed on February 26 and November 19 in order to bring awareness and focus to help stop bullying, as well as standing up for those who are currently being bullied.

Bullying has been around since there have been schools, or when any group of friends throughout history have gathered together to play. It only takes one person who feels the need to ‘get their kicks’ out by picking on someone in the group. According to Safe Search Kids, the invention of the Internet has rapidly spread the problem. Bullies now have the ability reach their victims at home through social media. This is called Cyberbullying. On the Internet, the effects of bullying can cause even more hurt and damage and do it much more quickly.

Solidarity in Pink

International STAND UP to Bullying Day emerged from the acts of two Nova Scotian 12th graders. Travis Price and David Shepherd stood up when a fellow student was being bullied for wearing a pink shirt. They bought 50 pink shirts in a discount store and emailed their classmates, urging them to wear pink shirts the following day, to create a "sea of pink" to support the bullied student. Their act of creativity and kindness gained notice around Canada, the United States, and beyond, and by the following year, International STAND UP to Bullying Day was created.

To show your support help Metzger Wickersham take a public stance against bullying and wear pink on February 26. Wearing a pink shirt sends a visible signal to those being bullied that they are supported, and stands up in a non-confrontational way against bullies.

Tactics Of Cyberbullies

People who haven’t experienced cyberbullying might think it begins and ends with mean comments on the victim’s Facebook profile or nasty text messages. Those are a couple of tactics used by cyberbullies, but Safe Search Kids breaks down the most common ways in which bullies attack people online:

  • Posting hateful, nasty comments about someone’s body, ethnicity, gender, religion, race, socio-economic background, or other characteristics online
  • Posting embarrassing or hurtful comments about them online
  • Posting or sending them threats of violence
  • Posting comments or sending messages telling them to kill themselves
  • Posting humiliating or mean photos or videos of or directed at the victim
  • Creating a nasty fake profile, blog, or webpage about someone
  • Creating fake profiles to gain personal information about the victim and then posting or sharing that information
  • Creating fake profiles to spread false information about the victim
  • Posting personal information such as their full name, contact details, home address, credit card number, social security, and more

As you can see from these tactics, cyberbullies use electronic devices such as mobile phones to harass, mock, or threaten people intentionally and repeatedly. Victims will agree that the effects can be as hurtful and damaging as face-to-face bullying on the playground, office environment, or anywhere else.

Things You Can Do to Stop Bullying

Arguments between people happen from time to time. However, if someone is repeatedly nasty to you for no fault of your own, it’s bullying. No matter where bullying takes place, it’s important for kids to also stand up against cyberbullying. Don’t blame yourself for it, because no one deserves to be bullied.

If you know of someone who is being bullied, tell let your parents, a teacher or school counselor. Sometimes helping means just being a friend to someone who doesn’t have one. Familiarize yourself with Safe Search Kid’s cyberbullying prevention tips below.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Young People

  • Save the evidence of bullying. Whether the cyberbully sends text messages, posts on Facebook, or leaves nasty comments on Instagram, save the messages, download the videos, or take screenshots of the posts. Evidence may help authorities take action to end the harassment.
  • Do not retaliate. Your upset or angry response may add fuel to the fire. If bullies know they’re getting to you, they’re likely to continue. If you know the bully’s identity, don’t retaliate in vengeance because that will turn you into a bully too. Instead, save the evidence and seek help.
  • Tell someone you trust. Even if it seems difficult or embarrassing, telling a parent, relative, friend, or teacher what’s happening can be one of the best things you can do for yourself.

Cyberbullying Prevention Tips For Parents

  • Set a good example at home. Show your children that you treat people with kindness and respect. You can also explain to your child that the person who is the bully is not a happy person and is in pain. They may have no control in their life and they bully others for a sense of control. They are trying to bring that person down to feel better about themselves.
  • Follow or befriend your child on social media. This way, you can keep an eye on what they’re doing and what others are saying in response to them.
  • Educate your child. Tell them about not accepting friend requests from strangers, and warn against posting personal information and compromising photos online.
  • Be proactive. If you see cyberbullying taking place, report the posts – even if your child is not the victim.

Cyberbullying is one of the downsides of the digital age. Victims need all the support they can get, while bullies need to learn that good people will not accept their behavior.

Are You a Bully?

So how can you know whether you are a bully? Click here [https://www.newsweek.com/are-you-bully-6-signs-according-psychologist-1198019] to learn the six signs of a bully according to a psychologist. You may wonder why it makes you feel better to be hurtful to others. Perhaps you are involved in other destructive behavior. Maybe you are being bullied or hurt by an adult. Teachers and school counselors are there for you too. Talk to them to get help now.

How Will You Make a Difference on International STAND UP to Bullying Day?

Parents, teachers and kids of all ages can all work together to ensure no one is ever bullied. Remember, a large group of people saying NO to bullying is made up of individuals. If everyone said they can’t make a difference just because they are only one person, many great causes around the world would lose their power. That’s often be referred to as “The Power of One”.

  • Do you see someone who needs a friend?
  • Do know of someone who is being bullied?
  • Maybe you are the one who being bullied.

Kids can do their part by being a friend to those who are victims of bullying and including them in activities with their group of friends. Talk to someone about how you can stand up for yourself in a safe way, or teach them how to prevent it from happening again. Don’t be afraid to block or hide someone from view on social media. Talk to your parents about this if you need help.

Metzger Wickersham encourages our community to work together to end bullying and to help build a better society for our children’s future.

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