By Regan Cunningham, LSW

National Bullying Prevention is this month, and the idea of bullying can sometimes seem like it can relate back to the child beating up the kid for their lunch money. But what if I told you it can go far much deeper than that.

We may start to see patterns of bullying as we grow older in the workplace, family, and even friends. Have you ever experienced any of these signs of being bullied:

  • criticism for your identity or the way you look
  • physical harm
  • Being intimidated or mocked

These behaviors can happen in a school environment, workplace, or even in our family units. When you think of the effects of bullying, we may not realize that they could have long term consequences, including low self-esteem, anxiety, depression, loneliness, insecurity, withdrawing, and even suicidal ideation. Some people who fall prey to bullying will sometimes even come bullies themselves. This is due to learning the behavior and becoming like what they know. For example, if a child grows up with a father who was often critical and mocking, the child can learn to believe this is normal behavior.

So the question comes to how we prevent bullying. Perhaps it is not with just school campaigns as much as it starts with each individual examining themselves. Possibly we have fallen into the bully category in someone else’s life. Or we have been bullied so much that it is hard to see the light at the end of a dark tunnel.

When it comes to workplace bullying or ones we find in our family unit, the most important thing to do is learning how to speak up and know how to treat others. Validation, as well as effectively listening and communicating can go a long way.

In the instance we find someone who is being bullied and they need help, learning to advocate for others can also prevent bullying that often happens in society. Practicing responses and educating ourselves maybe key to helping those around us who might be bullied.

No matter what, the Stop Bullying campaign has grown old, and the new one is to seek opportunities to stop it from happening from within ourselves and happening to others. Just then maybe we can see an improvement in our world.