Why we all need to stand up to bullying
Bullying can be an incredibly isolating experience. This is just one reason why Elsa, 18, believes we all need to stand up to bullying.
Each year national anti-bullying week has a theme. This year’s theme is ‘change starts with us’, which I love. To me, this is about encouraging people not to underestimate the power of their voice. We all have a voice, whether or not we feel like we do, and we can use it to create positive change in so many situations.
This is why I want to promote the power of being an up-stander, rather than a bystander, when we witness something wrong. I want to get more people speaking up, raising their voice and using it as a tool for good. I have seen so many people scared to speak up, especially in school settings, because of the fear of how they will be seen and whether they will be a target for bullying as a result. I know how difficult it can be - it can even feel a bit awkward if you don’t know the person you are standing up for - but it is so important.
I stood up for someone once when I saw them getting bullied online. I told a member of staff. The person was incredibly grateful, and said that they really needed help telling someone what was happening.
Getting bullied can make you feel so alone, especially if you don’t feel confident enough to talk to someone. As someone who has been bullied on multiple occasions myself, I know that talking to someone about what’s going on can feel embarrassing as well. When I was being bullied, I felt trapped and confused; the words and actions of the person bullying me got to me so much that I didn’t always feel like I deserved help. As a result, I suffered in silence for a long time.
Standing up for someone isn’t necessarily about getting directly involved with a particular situation; sometimes it can simply mean telling someone who can help. Talk to the person being bullied and make them feel less isolated, be a friendly face, or maybe even give them a hug.
Bullying has a massive impact on a young person’s mental health and it is an experience that people generally never forget. But if they remember a friendly face as part of their story - someone who stuck up for them in a bad situation - that can make such a big difference. I know it would have completely changed my experience. It would have given me something positive to reflect on now; someone special to remember, who made me feel stronger and less alone. Sometimes I felt like everyone was against me and must have agreed with the people bullying me because they just watched on without saying anything. That was one of the worst parts.
Sometimes it can be hard for members of staff to spot bullying, and they might not always be sure of the bigger picture, so help them out. Tell someone what’s going on; there is no need for anyone to ever know that it was you if you don’t want them to, but please do the right thing. By speaking up, you will be helping the victim and the bully. There is always more support available to everyone involved than you think, including you.
We all have a role to play in standing up to bullying, and in making the world a kinder place. And whatever your role, you can help make a difference. You can stand up for someone else. You can stand up for yourself. You can stop bullying someone. You can use your voice.
Never underestimate the power of your voice in flipping a situation on its head and making it better, because you can do it. I can tell you now that it will make all the difference to someone’s life. So please, don’t stand by; stand up.
Change starts with us.
Author: Elsa, 18
Where to get help
Find help for bullying
If you are being bullied, or know somebody who is, have a look at our bullying page for more information about what it is and ways to get help.
Get urgent help
If you need urgent help, you can message the YoungMinds Crisis Messenger for free by texting YM to 85258.