Bully Free Beverly Initiative
“Bully Free Beverly” is a community based initiative supported by a group of therapists from Beverly Therapists. We are passionate and committed to the cause of supporting individuals, children, families, and schools who are affected by bullying.
An Overview of Bullying Dynamics
Bullying is NOT a fact of life, nor “just a normal childhood phase”. Bullying is a repeated perpetration of power and aggression over another person. Bullying includes acts of physical injury, provocations, threats, teasing, excluding, gossiping, and spreading rumors. Bullying can happen anywhere, and often occurs where adults are not present. Click here for an overview about bullying and the effects. Cyberbullying is a tremendous concern as targets can be harassed anywhere, any time, and persons perpetuating cyber taunting can hide behind a distant device. Advice concerning cyberbullying here.
The person bullying may not be fully aware of the serious, and often devastating effect of his/her taunting or aggressive behavior – most of the time he/she is trying to feel powerful at someone else’s expense. The bully lacks empathy skills, and is someone who feels powerless/insecure in some fundamental way. It is always important to remember that the person doing the bullying is more than his/her behavior; however, no matter what, hurting another is wrong and needs to stop.
The target of bullying deserves and needs response, protection, and help restoring his/her self-esteem and sense of social/interpersonal trust. The targeted person is systemically isolated and becomes fearful and disempowered. Unfortunately, the bully seeks to “break” the target in some way to feel some false sense of power. The targeted individual is also so much more than how he/she feels related to the bullying. The target needs love, support and help to not internalize the pain. He/she needs to be able to label the wrong-doing and feel protected/safe. There is a duty on the part of the adults involved to validate and to insure justice and safety. A target deserves to feel his/her own power, integrity and well-being is re-established and protected. What to do if your child is being bullied?
Others, almost always, know about the bullying. Some are supporters of the bully and vicariously want to feel powerful or important. Others are bystanders, and stay on the sidelines when the bullying occurs. Often bystanders are sympathetic but fear association to the target. Out of selfprotection, they tend to stay passive and quiet. Others, become upstanders, and “stand up” to those bullying and/or become helpers to the targeted individual. Upstanders use their compassion, bravery, kindness, and sense of fairness to intervene, especially on behalf of the overpowered target.Upstanders are everyday heroes who, despite fear, act according to their “gut-instinct” to do the right thing. Understand what and how to be an upstander.
Effects of Bullying
Research has proven that there are serious long terms effects from bullying, especially when there is little or no intervention. Targets are more prone to depression, anxiety disorders, psychosomatic illnesses, lowered academic performance, low self-esteem, and can struggle with trust in relationships. Bullies are more apt to develop criminal records, to struggle with healthy relationships and develop problems with substance abuse. Targets that become bullies are in the highest risk group and are more prone to long term depression, panic disorders, and can be more prone to suicidal tendencies.
What about bystanders? “Children who witness bullying may have difficulty acquiring a sense of safety and affiliation with others, both of which are crucial human needs, according to Associate Professor of Counselor Education JoLynn Carney, whose research with Professor of Counselor Education Richard Hazler focuses on the effects of bullying on bystanders. ‘Bullying can also cause people who witness it to demonstrate physical stress symptoms of increased heart rate and perspiration as well as high levels of self-reported trauma even years after bullying events,’ Carney said.” See the article here
Counseling helps the individuals affected by these dynamics, and is most helpful as close to the incidence as possible. Counseling also helps years after bullying incidents: motivated individuals can process, release, develop current healthy coping strategies, and re-conceptualize the trauma.
Most importantly, bullying is a social dynamic and happens in social settings. It is important that bullying is recognized and addressed in the social environments in which it occurs. Schools, extracurricular environments, cyber-space, and play environments need rules and bullying needs to be addressed when it occurs. Parents can work with the leaders in these environments to proactively address these concerns. It is important to show compassion and collaboration with others. Blaming staff and/or casting judgment on other students adds to the bullying environment. Remember most people have good intentions and bullying happens everywhere. Guidance in talking to your child’s school.
Together, we need to look at changing the culture that allows bullying. Our Bully Free Beverly Team believes that empowering upstanding is a powerful way to address bullying at its’ roots. Children and adults experience a positive sense of self-esteem when they feel helpful and powerful in the face of challenging situations.
We want to encourage and foster environments that can look at the reality of bullying dynamics without shaming; support individuals and systems to respond with care and firmness when bullying occurs; and to nurture cultural and personal values of kindness, compassion, fairness, assertiveness, and bravery.
Links for Illinois Laws Regarding Bullying
Resources For Teachers/Administrators
Resources For Parents
Resources For Teens
Resources For Kids
Resources For LGBTQ
- We want to educate and support everyone in the community who are affected by these dynamics. Connect here to our Blog for updated articles, resources and events.
- Like our Facebook Page to stay up to date with resources and encouraging, inspirational posts!
- Contact us for support. We can provide counseling for anyone affected by these dynamics, as well as advocacy when needed.
- We can provide resources and ideas to community groups and schools who want some support in this area.
- Additional Outstanding Links for Bullying and Upstanding Internet Resources,
Curated by Lisa Catania can be found here
- Pin and visit our Pinterest page – ever growing with great resources!