A friend was recently talking about bullying and I realized how important it is for people to know about bullying. For instance, did you know that bullying affects the person being bullied, the people who witness the bullying and the bully? Eschia!

Many bad things are linked to bullying, including impacts to a person’s mental health, alcohol and drug use and an increased risk of suicide. But, bullying usually does not lead to suicide by itself.

So, how do bullies do their damage? Physical bullying includes being kicked, tripped, hit, pushed around, or if the bully steals or damages your things. Verbal bullying includes name-calling, intimidating, teasing and making insulting, racist or homophobic comments. Whoa, not cool.

Social and emotional bullying includes when someone lies or spreads rumours about you. They can also play mean jokes, mimic you, or encourage others not to socialize with you. Cyber bullying is when the bully humiliates or taunts you online, through Facebook, Twitter, email, online games and texting.

You’re wondering, “how does bullying affect people?” Well, kids could become depressed or anxious and feel sad or lonely. Their sleeping and eating patterns may change and they may lose interest in activities they like. These issues may continue into adulthood. Say what? Yup, for sure.

Kids can also start complaining about their health and begin doing worse in school. This includes lower grade point averages, exam writing and school participation getting worse, as well as missing, skipping, or even dropping out of school.

So, if your kid is starting to act like this, you might want to look into whether he is being bullied.

As I said earlier, bullying affects the bullies too. As teenagers they are more likely to abuse alcohol and drugs, get into fights, vandalize property, drop out of school and begin sexual activity at an early age. As adults, bullies will likely continue to abuse alcohol and drugs, have a criminal record and be abusive towards their spouse or children.

Bystanders, or people who see bullying happen, will more likely miss or skip school and use more alcohol, drugs, or tobacco. There could also be increased mental health problems, depression and anxiety. Get the picture? Bullying is not cool for anyone involved, man.

Tips on Dealing with Bullies

If you are being bullied, do not blame yourself and be aware of things you can do to fight bullying. Let’s look at some of the ones mentioned in a GNWT brochure called “Youth Tips.”

First and foremost, stay calm, although it may not be easy to do. Remember the bully wants you to react, so don’t give him what he’s looking for. And for heaven’s sake, don’t fight back because bullies want attention and fighting back might make the situation worse.

Report the bully. Talk about the bullying to someone you trust, like a friend or a teacher. Adults have a lot of experience and can help immensely, so keep looking until you find someone that will help you.

As for cyber bullies, do not respond to them but be sure to save their messages, which can be used as evidence of online harassment. Remember, sharing personal information online makes it easier to find and attack you. Eschia!

Bystanders are usually present when someone is being bullied, and they can do more to help the person being bullied than anyone else.

If you are the bystander, tell the bully that what he is doing is wrong and you won’t get involved. Remember, standing around and watching gives the bully the attention he wants, so leave and get help. When you ask someone for help, be sure to tell them whether it’s physical, verbal, social, or cyber bullying.

If you witness verbal bullying, don’t spread the gossip or tease the victim. If it’s cyber bullying you witness, don’t forward any offensive messages or photos the bully sent about someone.

Remember that not all bullies are male: there are many female bullies as well.

Young people can call the Kids Help Phone at 1-800-668-6868 for anonymous and confidential counselling service. Come back and read about adults and bullying in two weeks.

Roy Erasmus

Roy Erasmus Sr. Is a certified wellness counsellor who survived heart disease and a former member of the Legislative Assembly of the Northwest Territories.

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