We may sometimes feel powerless when it comes to bullying, but teens can do a lot to prevent bullying. Sometimes all we can do is be there to support friends who are being bullied, and other times we can get out in the public and bring awareness to the issue. Either way, we need to be leaders when it comes to preventing bullying:
We need to know when we're seeing bullying taking place. In order to stop bullying as it is happening, we should be putting ourselves in other people's shoes. How would you feel if someone called you a name? Would you want someone to hit you that way? What would your reaction be if someone did that to you? Would you want someone cyberbullying you and putting up lies or embarrassing photos online? When we open ourselves up empathetically by walking in someone else's shoes, we are able to better identify when someone is being bullied, because bullying involves someone feeling like their power and control is taken away. They feel victimized.
Know the Signs
We have all heard how bullying can lead to depression, falling grades, and even worse reactions of suicide or violence. Yet are these the only signs that someone you know is being bullied? We should look out for some of these warning signs that our friends or family members are victims of bullying:
- Odd injuries with no explanation
- Possessions going missing
- Increasing complaints of headaches, stomach aches, and more
- Change in eating habits such as loss of appetite or coming home hungry from school after skipping lunch on a regular basis
- Difficulty sleeping
- Falling grades
- Skipping school
- Avoiding social outings or even avoiding certain friends
- Lower self-esteem
- Frequent nightmares
- Talking about suicide
- Running away from home
- Self-destructive behavior
See Something, Say Something
Staying silent does nothing to end bullying. We need more people to stand up and say something when they see or suspect bullying. This doesn't mean getting yourself involved in a dangerous situation, but knowing what resources to use when. We can call 911 if we see bullying causing an emergency situation. We have parents, teachers, pastors, and more adults that can get involved. Telling a friend to stop when he or she is the bully is one thing, but sometimes we need people with a little more authority to step in.
Be a Role Model
One great way to help prevent bullying is to not be bullies ourselves. We need to be role models to others and show how to properly treat others. We need to be examples of how to be respectful and kind, even when we don't really like another person. We need to stand up for those that can't stand up for themselves. We're Christians, and we need to be Christ-like in how we treat people. We should lead the way in showing that being kind is far more important than trying to prove we're better than others.
When we're talking about preventing bullying, we can do so much more. There are anti-bullying groups at a lot of schools that help bring awareness to others about bullying and what it means. There are organizations that take donations to help spread the word. We can volunteer our time to work with groups that are often victimized by bullies like developmentally disabled teens and adults. Getting involved is a great way to prevent bullying.
Use Your Talents to Speak Up
We all have specific talents. Some of us are great at making videos. Others are in bands and write music. People paint, write, and more. Are you an athlete? Do a 5K run to prevent bullying. Find a way to use your talent to bring awareness to preventing bullying.