By Adam Silverstein
When discussing the topic of bullying, we think of multiple scenarios: physical intimidation, targeted cyberbullying and social exclusion, to name a few. Bullying takes many forms, which is why it can be a difficult subject to talk about. One thing all of the scenarios have in common is that they involve clear delineations between the people who are perpetrating the offensive behavior, the “bullies,” and the ones who are being bullied, the “victims.”
This is one of the main issues I have with how bullying is perceived today, and it is some-thing that should be changed. Some people are quick to put the labels of “bully” and “victim” on the participants in a scenario. Once we as-sign these labels, it’s easy to make assumptions about those involved. The bullies are generalized as big, tough and uncaring, and need to be “put in their place.” Conversely, the image of “victims” portray them as small, weak or help-less, and they need to be “saved.” These labels aren’t truly representative of who a person is as a human being. Human life and interactions are too complicated to be reduced to simplicity.
Honestly, most of us have participated in behavior similar to bullying before; some of us have also been on the receiving end. But these experiences don’t totally define our character. For National Bullying Prevention month, we should start prevention by moving away from these labels. We need to take a more person-centered approach and remember that every one of us is a human being who is worthy of empathy, care and respect.
Of course, those who harm others should still be disciplined appropriately. But we should keep in mind that someone engaging in bully-ing behavior may also have experience with be-ing a victim of some kind. Understanding and empathy for each person can lead to a more peaceful world.
This issue is close to me and is something that I intend to spend my entire life working towards improving for the good of the world. To this effect, I founded the Be the Change club at Post, and I am working on launching a larger version of this organization on a more commu-nity-based level. Both organizations have the goal of bringing people together, eliminating labels and stereotypes and fostering empathy and compassion for all. I do not explicitly label these projects as “anti-bullying” efforts because it is time to get away from using that language, which perpetuates the issue of labels.
Always remember that you have the power to make positive change in the lives of those around you. You can make a difference that turns someone’s whole world around simply by recognizing and acknowledging them as a fellow human being. If we all keep practicing this, then I truly believe that together we can make bullying a thing of the past.