Blue Today to STOMP Out Bullying™

a46796b2cdc520d18e25c4e9483503f6_f93I’m wearing blue to work today.  No one else in my office may realize today is national STOMP Out Bullying™ Day, but  it is and this is my way of joining my daughter in taking a stand, together.

STOMP Out Bullying™ is the leading national anti-bullying and cyberbullying organization for kids and teens in the U.S.  The organization focuses on reducing and preventing bullying, cyberbullying, sexting and other digital abuse, educating against homophobia, racism and hatred, decreasing school absenteeism, and deterring violence in schools, online and in communities across the country. Their focus is to teach effective solutions on how to respond to all forms of bullying; as well as educate kids and teens in school and online, provide help for those in need and at risk of suicide, raise awareness, peer mentoring programs in schools, public service announcements by noted celebrities, and social media campaigns. They also work to teach parents how to keep their kids safe online.

Like it or not, bullying is an issue today.  While it is not new, it seems today’s youth have more media than ever at their disposal to inflict abuse on their peers.  Thankfully, they also can use that same media for good and reach out to spread the words of hope, respect, tolerance, kindness and acceptance.™

We dealt with the issue of bullying at my daughter’s school last year.  Lack of administrative training and willingness to properly deal with the situation was a large part of our decision to make a change in schools.  Our experience taught us a lot:  it takes two or more people in every bullying situation.  There is always the bully.  He/she is more often than not a powerless victim themselves and resorts to bully situations as their own form of empowerment.  While never right, we learned empathy.  It also takes a victim.  Being bullied by someone else means you allow them power over you.  We taught our daughter to exert herself and her emotions over her bully; take their power away and their desire to attack becomes diffused.  Sadly, the third group are those by-standers who do nothing.  They, too, are guilty of seeing, watching and taking no action.  They must be taught to stand up for victims.

Unfortunately, bullying exists in the workplace too.  Those mean girls and rotten boys we encountered on playgrounds and in college dormitories grow up and become peers and bosses.  They hone and perfect their skills of manipulation, intimidation and harassment to get ahead. Those bosses with bullying tendencies are masters at pushing you to the limit without giving you enough fodder to pursue legal action. For example, they may attempt to disguise their demeaning and discourteous behavior with levity, saying, ‘Oh, I was just joking,’ or ‘You’re too sensitive. You know you’re doing a great job.’”

Workplace bullying has serious health ramifications.  According to a recent Forbes article, which cited statistics from the an earlier online study by the Workplace Bullying Institute, the top five health problems among those bullied at work are: anxiety (76%), loss of concentration (71%), disrupted sleep (71%), hypervigilance symptoms (60%), and stress headaches (55%).

The impact of bullying — whether it be in the classroom or in the workplace — is severe.  Ignoring it does not make it go away.  Educated teachers, administrators and employers must recognize the signs of inappropriate behavior in their hallways and establish rules of conduct that make it clear such behaviors will not be tolerated.

I encourage you to get informed about how bullying impacts the world around you.  Take a moment to check out great organizations like STOMP Out Bullying™ or the Workplace Bullying Institute to learn more about what you can do to help make a difference in your corner of the world!

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