October is a month that is home to many causes. Breast cancer awareness, LGBTQ rights awareness, and bullying awareness. The More Love Letters Team writes letters to people from all walks of life, so we have interacted with many inspiring individuals that just needed a little light in their days. One of the topics that really resonates with my is bullying. It is so unfortunate that most people have experienced modern to severe episodes of bullying in their lives, and I will always do my best to bring an end to it. Everyone can help put an end to bullying, and there are a few ways to start.
Learning to step in during a bullying situation has been one of the hardest things I’ve had to do. The main reason why people don’t step in is usually “This has nothing to do with me” or “if I say something, they’ll come after me.” If you’re watching it happen, you are a part of it. I know, it’s so much easier to say than do in this situation. It’s daunting, like walking into a burning room- you are inviting the negativity upon yourself, trying to deflect it off of the victim. Never put yourself in a dangerous situation. If you see that a bullying situation is going to turn violent, get help. Call a teacher, parent, authority figure, or even the police. Never become a human shield, only become an ally. The more people that step in during an active situation, the better. The victim is no longer the victim when they have a network of support. It’s easy to throw jabs at one person, but not so easy to fight off an army. Just remember to keep your safety as a top priority.
Even if you don’t step in while it’s happening, you can find a way to connect with the victim afterwards. Tell them that you are on their side, and that you will be a friend. Sometimes, that can be enough to make or break the reaction to the situation. A kind word can save a life. Offer your friendship, a support group, anything to take them away from dwelling on the situation alone.
As a Resident Advisor at my university, I learned a lot about confidentiality and the laws that surround it. Whenever we had a private talk with a resident, mediated a conflict, or were involved in an incident, it was required that the situation remain in confidence. There is, however, an exception to confidentiality. By law, confidentiality can be (and must be) broken when the confidant reveals a threat against themselves or someone else, thoughts of suicide or self harm, or information on an event that caused injury to themselves or others. In cases of harassment, assault, stalking, or abuse, an authority figure or counselor must be notified. Bullying is very serious, and can lead to physical or mental harm, as well as suicide. You are not a snitch if you are informing an authority figure about someone being bullied. Awareness of the situation will allow authorities to support the victim and discipline the bully before things get worse. If an authority figure is not acting on the information that you have provided, tell another authority figure. Sometimes, adults are just as unsure and afraid about intervening in these situations as teens and children are. Someone will know how to help.
Be proactive about bullying and create a support network with your friends and community. Send out a smoke signal, flare, or something that says “You are not alone.” Spread the word about the consequences of bullying and educate those around you. Encourage tolerance and acceptance. Create a bully-free zone.
Write a letter.
At MoreLoveLetters, we strongly believe that positive words can change the world. Just like the “Dear College” campaign, we are writing letters to bullies everywhere, letting them know that we cannot and will not accept bullying. I have been bullied; I know what kind of pain and turmoil it can bring. So here I am, waving my flag. You are not alone.
It’s been a while, hasn’t it? Since we’ve stood toe to toe in those hallowed halls, where your words echoed off each wall, each tile on that floor for all to hear. I can’t say that I’ve missed you, and I could never address you as ‘dear friend,’ but it’s been a while, and I’ll say that I’m glad for it. Thanks for leaving me alone to rebuild myself (and I promise you, I am so much greater), but I knew we would meet again. This time, however, it’s on my terms.
How does it feel to be famous? To know that your name, your being, your essence wets the lips of nearly every human being in the modern world like a stray drop of cough medicine that seems to leave a bad taste for hours after consumption. How does it feel to know that you have graduated from every school, every classroom, every chair in the country, but you still manage to leave a legacy to be scorned? Please tell me, how does it feel to know that you are a tool of modern warfare used against the innocents of the day, week, and year? How does it feel to be you?
I only ask because you seem to have everything planned out so well. You had to have been expecting this, the recoil you now see. That was your face all over the news yesterday, but lately, it seems like your time in the spotlight has been working against you like a bad tabloid article. Maybe you’ve already heard, and I’m probably not the first to tell you, but you’re losing. You’re losing your battles one by one, and I swear to you that we will win this war. For every scar that you leave, every casualty that you cause, we have a hundred hitting you back. For every name, slander, and anti-rally in your prose, we have a sonnet. A poem. A love letter to battle you back again.
While you’ve been gone, I really have been rebuilding. Not just myself; not just those cuts and bruises that you left me with after our altercations, no. I have been building a community, person by person, heart by heart. Each person in this community has promised to fight against you and your ruthless cause. These are the people you left behind when you burned their dreams to the ground. We’re a community built from the ashes, thriving on everything that you stand against. We have been healing all of these years, and now, I promise you, now is our time. I can guarantee you that, by the time we are finished, your name will only appear in history books. You will cease to be only because we refuse to. Yes, this is a challenge.
So here we are, Bullying, face to face once again. Look around you and see that you are alone. Know that you will not win this time. I know you won’t give up easily, and neither will I. Let’s shake hands like true sparring partners, and let the games begin.
Visit www.stopbullying.gov for more tips on how to deal with bullying, and how to know when to get help. Join the MoreLoveLetters team in writing letters against bullying. Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org with your letters and photos. You are not alone.
With love and love letters,