October is National Bully Prevention Month. You may wonder, why is a photographer writing about bullying? In short, because I want this job, that I love so much, to be about more than pretty pictures. High school is hard, middle school is hard, sadly even elementary school can be emotionally hard—regardless of schoolwork! Truly, life can be hard. If we could all just look out for each other and work to be kind and build each other up… but that isn’t how it usually works out. So, let’s talk about that.
What is bullying? By definition (compliments of Merriam-Webster) a bully as a noun is “a person who uses strength or power to harm or intimidate those who are weaker” As a verb to bully is to “use superior, strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force him or her to do what one wants.” In my opinion, these definitions of bullying only refer to the classic understanding of bullying, a small fraction of what bullying truly encompasses.
For the classic bully, I think guys typically come to mind. The bully that will take things from you, wallets, glasses, materials, or anything else and keep it away from you until someone else gets them to stop or they get bored. These types of bullies can be dealt with easily because their actions are fairly straight forward and obvious. This doesn’t mean that only guys are bullies.
Girls, girls can just plain be mean! Girls don’t usually fight with their fists or pull hair though. For girls, it’s much more subtle, less obvious, and harder to parents/teachers to see and stop. Breaking up a physical fight is easy. Stopping Sally from saying or posting terrible things about Suzy, or whispering horrible things to her, not so easy.
In this world where there are so many divisive issues, where people on both sides of all issues are bullying, what can we do? Try to look beyond this issue and see them for what they are. People. People who want to be seen, heard, known, and loved. Just like you. The Bible speaks so much on how to treat others. Yet, as Christians we too bully others, sometimes to the point of pushing them away from Christ. What if we just followed Christ and loved others, period.
We’ve all been bullied at one time, in some way. We all know it hurts, a lot. One small hurtful statement can have a big impact. One small kind act or words of building up another can have a big impact, too. So instead smile at someone. Compliment them, anything, their hair, their shirt, something they excel at, a kind act you noticed. I know that makes it seem so simple, but it can be far from easy. We’ll talk about that, and how blue hats realate to bullying, in another blog post.
Bullying prevention starts with each of us, with you. Who can you reach out and be kind to today?
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