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Stop Bullying: I Choose to be Part of the Solution as a Bullying Upstander

I Alway Try To Intervene To Stop Bullying

Physical and verbal bullying can never be fully eliminated from schools. Teachers only have limited control. In truth, the students really have the power to suppress the abuse and to stop bullying. In the past, a person who stood up for the victim or told an adult was called a “tattle-tale” or “snitch.” But times have changed. Today, if someone attempts to halt the actions of a bully, she is considered a bullying “upstander,” which surely carries a more positive ring. I have had several experiences as a bullying upstander; yet, one stands out.

During a free period at school, I was sitting in the lobby near a group of boys. One of the boys, Eric, suffers from Tourette syndrome, causing him to twitch constantly. Eric is well liked, and, to my knowledge, had not experienced any bullying because of his disorder. Yet, while I was sitting near these boys, I overheard Eric’s friends poking fun at him, possibly just a little too much. One of the boys, Colin*, said he would pay Eric twenty dollars if he could go a minute without twitching.

I was bothered by the comment, but I knew Colin and Eric were friends, so I opted to mind my own business. A few minutes later, I turned around to witness many of the boys mimicking Eric’s quick spasms, laughing hysterically. Eric forced a smile and some fake laughter, but it was clear he was uncomfortable. To me, the boys were crossing the line.

Trying To Teach Compassion to Combat Accidental Bullying

I waited until Eric walked away to confront his friends, not wanting to embarrass him. I calmly approached the group of boys and asked why they were taunting their friend. Laughing, they said they were just kidding and that Eric was used to it. I explained that, from my experience, even though he acted unaffected, the teasing and taunting hurts. I revealed that when I was in lower school, my friends would occasionally joke around and tell me I was fat. I’d always laughed it off, but it really got to me, and also made me extremely self-conscious regarding my weight. As I was speaking, the boys seemed to understand where I was coming from. Their eyes became sympathetic as they realized what they had been doing. With some help, they realized that sometimes, when someone is your friend, you fail to censor yourself appropriately.

The line between taunting and teasing is thin, and it is easy to unknowingly cross it. With this in mind, it is important to keep other people’s feelings in mind, to try to stop bullying, and to stand up for what you believe is right, even if it may cost you a bit of your popularity.

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