When bullies target you at school or in the workplace, a support system can be the difference between suicide and the will to live, and I tell you this from experience.
During the time I went to school and was bullied there, people didn’t consider the damage bullying did to its targets because it just wasn’t talked about. It wasn’t talked about because society was under the misguided belief that bullying was “a right of passage” – a “normal occurrence that all kids went through.”
But! If your were a target back then, I’ll bet that even back then, you knew that there was nothing normal about it. Even then, you knew that most kids didn’t endure bullying but only a certain few.
And because of this widely held belief, you were ashamed to talk about it and were forced to suffer in silence. Why? Because you knew that you’d be shamed for it – told to toughen up. So, you toughened up – you started fighting back amd defending yourself, only to be blamed and accused of being the perpetrator and either suspended, expelled, or fired (if you were an adult in the workplace).
In a nutshell, there just wasn’t much support for targets of bullying behavior in those days. I look back now and wonder just how many teen suicides in those days (and yes, there were many teen suicides back then) resulted from bullying.
Unfortunately, that’s an answer we’ll never know because those kids aren’t alive to tell their stories today. I can only speculate that it was more than likely well over half of all suicides under the age of 21. And I’m confident in that guess.
If you’re a parent or guardian, listen to your child and take steps to support and protect your son or daughter.
If you’re a teacher and a child or teen comes to you and opens up about the bullying they suffer, please do not trivialize their pain or rebuff them. Reach out to them and give them a listening ear. Let this precious human being know that you’re there for them.
If you’re a supervisor or manager, please, listen for the sake of not only the target, but for that of your company. Companies lose millions per year as a result of workplace bullying. Therefore, it’s much more profitable to do the right thing than it is to ignore it or to blame the target.
The more you know…