YOUTH PARTNERSHIPS: Reframing the Word “Bullying”

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by: Dada Alice Mwemera and Ben Tsang, Youth Engagement Coordinators

Dada and Ben, Safe and Caring's Youth Engagement Coordinators

Dada and Ben, Safe and Caring’s Youth Engagement Coordinators

“Bullying” is a word without much strength behind it today.

In the past, I have personally shared my concerns about bullying with an adult and their reply would often be “it will get better,” “it is part of growing up,” or “sometimes you just don’t get along with everyone.” This response made me feel powerless, as though I was being overly emotional and needed to just accept the situation.
Somehow the word “bullying” did not communicate to adults the pain I felt and lasting damage that it was causing.

It is time to realize that bullying is a serious issue, linked to depression, low self-esteem, bad grades, anxiety, aggression and even suicide attempts among many children, youth and adults! Bullying is not harmless. It is not the same as teasing or just a little fight, nor should it be viewed as an accepted and natural part of growing up.

Before we make lasting changes, we need to really understand what we mean when we say “bullying.” Bullying is very common among children and youth, therefore instead of approaching the word and the concept of bullying from the typical mature adult perspective of “it will get better,” or “it’s a normal part of growing up,” we need to engage youth in a discussion.

We need to listen to their struggles, to the traumatic emotions they face so that we may fully grasp the impacts of bullying on them and develop solutions together that will work to restore positive healthy relationships in their lives.

This article appeared in our November 2014 News Bulletin. Click here to read the rest of the bulletin!

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