What is bullying?
Bullying is an imbalance of power between the victim and the bully. This can mean someone picking on another person because they are older, they are bigger or stronger, or they are taking advantage of vulnerable people. Anyone can have bully behaviors. Anyone can also be a bystander (or witness) or victim. This includes you, your peers, or even your teachers.
The bully is the aggressor towards the victim. The victim is the bully’s target. The bystander is someone who stands by and witnesses the bullying without doing anything. Sometime there are people that support the bully, by instigating, and letting someone else take over the bullying.
Bullying is aggressive behavior that involves a real or perceived imbalance of power that has the potential to be or is being repeated. In Native peoples, bullying is just one of the many things that can influence thoughts of suicide in youth. Bullying may seem daunting to tackle, but there are steps we can all take to help prevent and lessen the negative effects of bullying!
What are the different kinds of bullying?
What can you do?
It is good to be aware of reasons why bullying may occur. For example, some issues around bullying go very deep, like racism, discrimination, sex, sexual orientation and gender identity, religion and disability. For many individuals, they belong to more than just one of theses groups, which makes discrimination even worse. For example, Alaska Native LGBTQ individuals may experience discrimination related to both racism and LGBTQ hatred and violence.
What if someone I know is being bullied?
It’s hard being a bystander. Do you just walk by and ignore it? Do you risk being bullied yourself by standing up for this person? The answers to these questions seem ambiguous, but they’re simple enough to answer.
If someone is in immediate danger, or you witness a fight, do not try to break it up. If you’re at school or in town, go run to tell an adult or someone who will be able to handle the situation with authority. If nobody else is nearby, try to get the aggressor to stop by shouting verbally “STOP!”, claim that someone like a teacher, parent, or older relative is coming, and make sure they are, or call 911 if necessary. Be loud and let the bully know that they’ve been caught.
If someone has just been physically or sexually assaulted, they need comfort, and may need a visit to the clinic to determine if there is long-term damage. Bullying often results in concussions, double vision, punctured eardrums, broken bones, or bruises and cuts. Help them get away from the abuser and to help in the form of parent, teacher, doctor, nurse, or neighbor.
If someone is being emotionally or verbally abused, speak up for them! Put yourself in their shoes. If you don’t, you’re only encouraging, or enabling, the bully’s behavior. You may be afraid that the bully will retaliate against you, but you have strength in numbers, and your testimony helps the victim’s. Take the victim aside and let them know that you’re there for them, even if it’s just someone to talk to or a shoulder to cry on, they need you! They also probably need help approaching a trusted adult about this situation.
Tips for Parents
This page was informed by Standing Together Against Rape.