I picked the topic of bullying because this Wednesday (25th of February) was Anti-Bullying Day.
What I discovered
The problem of bullying is often associated with young school-aged children (and I learnt that actually most people that bully or are bullied experience it around that time) but it can affect people of all ages. I decided to learn more about the effects on the adult that was a bully or was bullied as a child.
For many adults who were bullied, the associated feelings of unhappiness decrease with time, though people who remember the experience of being bullied as extremely painful, it can affect all parts of their adult life and lead to low self-esteem and mental illness. Often by the age of 23, bullying behaviour or experiencing bullying lessens, and victims of bullying are not as socially isolated.
Regarding experiences of bullying and being bullied during childhood, I learnt that research has found that when people are bullies or bullied, that role tends to stay with them even if they change schools. There are also bully-victims, who both bully and experience bullying. People in this category are more likely to suffer from depression that either bullies or victims.
I have always aimed to teach my daughter acceptance of and compassion towards all people, regardless of their backgrounds, circumstances or characteristics. However since reading about bullying I have been more conscious about what I am teaching her (especially unintentionally, through how I talk and act). My action for this week is to continue being more conscious of the intentional and unintentional lessons I am teaching her, so that she grows up to be a loving and compassionate person.
I also made a donation to the ‘Pink Shirt Day’ anti-bullying appeal, which is part of the Mental Health Foundation. http://www.pinkshirtday.org.nz