There is a lot of talk these days about bullying and how bad it is. And that is a good thing. I will share a story. Mine. When I was a kid (well under 15) I lived on a small street in a suburb away from where most of the neighborhood kids lived and played. When coming home from school those kids would gang up and try to attack me. I was scared. It took every measure to avoid seeing them or running into them by walking a mile or two out of the way, cutting through woods and taking out of the way streets to get home and I never told anyone. Fortunately, most of the time I was able to escape unharmed. But there were times when I was trapped or they ran and caught me and I was either thrown to the ground and hit, or hit while standing up. I did not know how to fight so I am sure it was a bad sight. I was often demoralized and at one point I remembers saying I knew how to fight even though I did not. One bully whose name I will always remember was “Bruce”. He was very mean. I never did like him. The other bullies were led by “Ray” who eventually I became friends with and so all was forgotten. I’m sure that these experiences eventually led me to the study of martial arts which has become an integral part of my life for the last 40 years.
Why do I share this private information? My guess is that many others have gone through what I have. How we each react when it happens and how it changes one’s psyches can vary dramatically and not everyone knows how to fight back or protect oneself. One thing that is certain though: if you see bullying, you should try and stop it (assuming you are not seriously jeopardizing your own safety). Studies show, however, that this does not happen often. And we wonder why. Well, this is called the “bystander effect.” The misconception is that when someone is being hurt or is hurt, people will rush to their aid. The truth is that the more people who witness a person in distress, the less likely it is that any one person will help. So, if you see something bad like bullying, I cite David McRaney’s “You are not so Smart”, page 77: “The takeaway here is to remember you are not so smart when it comes to helping people. In a crowded room, or a public street, you can expect people to freeze up and look around at one another. Knowing that, you should always be the first person to break away from the pack and offer help-or attempt escape- because you can be certain no one else will.”
So, if you see bullying, please do what you can to stop it. Your actions can have lifelong, positive effects that will help others and certainly this will benefit you as a person.