Stop Bullying.. And Start Being Kind

Yesterday, I witnessed a young person being bullied and victimised in the street by three other teenagers. Their comments were cruel, unacceptable and I could see their words were causing the young person great distress.

Years ago, whilst in secondary school I remember a student who was bullied for most of his school life. He would experience doors slammed in his face on a daily basis, along with horrible, horrible insults. Often kicked and punched, he bore many bruises. I remember feeling so, so sorry for him and remember wondering how he even managed to get to school every day, knowing what lay ahead. On my own, I would open doors for him, to try to counteract the doors slammed in his face. Alone, I would converse and be as kind as possible to make him feel better. When with my friends however, it is with deep regret that I admit I turned a blind eye, for fear of being excluded myself. 

I thought at the time, that I did enough. I now know that to be far from true. Having worked with many, many coaching clients who have been victims of bullying over the years, I am now aware of the true and devastating impact. Continuous bulling leads to victims believing that they are not enough, or not loved, or not valued. Without help, this can severely impact their life for many, many years. Some victims believe these things to be so true, that they take their own life. Having worked with their parents who have lost their teenager in this way, I am aware of the devastating aftermath, in which so many lives are affected. This should never, ever happen.

I firmly believe that bullies are totally unaware of the long term effects of their words and their actions. Victimisation is not just emotionally damaging but severely physically damaging. 

A Danish study published in the Journal of Psychosomatic Research states that constant bullying initially creates an acute stress response and increases amounts of cortisol. This is followed by the second phase in which the body ends up within a state of chronic stress. Unable to cope, it slams the brakes on cortisol production. As cortisol is needed to produce energy, energy levels drop and the victim eventually becomes unable to function normally, experiencing further suffering. 

Kindness on the other hand, has the opposite effect. Being kind or receiving kindness creates a release of the hormone oxytocin, which has many positive health benefits. Kindness lowers blood pressure, speeds up wound healing and slows down aging to say the least. 

Yesterday, powered by my regret of not doing enough for my fellow student years ago, I stepped in. The bullies walked away. I looked the victim in the eye, sending love from my heart and told him that the things that he had just heard about himself, were not true. And I told him they would never be true. And I told him never to forget how amazing he was. Seeing the tears in his eyes, I knew how much he needed to hear those words.

I pray that you share this post because I believe that bullies need educating. I believe that if they really knew the true impact of their words and actions, they would think twice. I should also mention that I have worked with people who have honestly and bravely admitted they were once bullies. As adults, this is something that they truly regret. 

I pray that you share my words with your friends. This could not only positively impact one life, but many lives. I believe that every child deserves to go to school, or walk down the street without feeling afraid. Together we can make a difference.

 

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