We might not realize it, but people can be bullied regardless of age. According to a survey conducted for the American Osteopathic Association, roughly 30% of U.S. adults admit to being bullied. As a result, many of these individuals endure serious side effects, such as stress and depression. Some have even reported an inability to function on a daily basis.
October is National Bullying Prevention Month, and it’s an important time to recognize this widespread issue and learn how we can combat it. If you know someone who is being bullied, here are ways that you can help.
Be an Upstander, Not a Bystander
Don't stand by and watch; take action. If you witness bullying, intervene if it's safe to do so. Tell the bully that their actions are wrong and walk away with the victim. If you can't intervene, report the incident to a trusted contact or use anonymous reporting services. This works for cyberbullying as well.
Offer Emotional Support
Sometimes, just being there can make a significant difference. Offer to spend time with them, whether it's meeting up for lunch or carpooling to work. Emotional support can help rebuild their confidence. Remember, it's essential to listen without judgment, as the person being bullied may feel sensitive and powerless. Validate their feelings and let them know that the the situation is not their fault.
Use Distraction to Your Advantage
Changing the subject or creating a distraction can shift the focus away from a tense situation. Simple actions like dropping books, spilling a water bottle or setting a timer can break the tension and cause the bully to lose focus. You can also engage in a conversation unrelated to the bully or compliment the victim to divert attention. These tactics not only help the victim, but they can also discourage the bully by “stealing their thunder.”
Educate and Advocate
Sometimes, bullying stems from ignorance. If the bully is targeting someone based on race, religion, sexual orientation or disability, educating them could change their behavior. For example, you could share the proven benefits of hiring a person with disabilities.
How Envision Unlimited can help
Envision Unlimited is dedicated to improving mental health for all — including for those who are bullied — so people can live happy, fulfilled lives in their communities. Our offerings also include day programs for individuals with intellectual and developmental disabilities, residential and employment services, and specialized foster care. All of these are designed to address the unique needs of each of our clients, regardless of age, background, or ability. Our services are grounded in a spirit of advocacy and empowerment. We believe that all individuals are capable of living successful lives if given the right opportunities. Contact us today to see how we can help you.