Anyone can become the target of persistent hurtful behavior. Some people are at greater risk just because they are seen as “different”. Let’s face it most people have been on the receiving end at some point. You can be bullied or teased because you’re thought to be different: too short, too tall, too fat, too skinny, too smart, too artistic, too loud or too quiet, you name it.
Unfortunately, people with epilepsy are sometimes the target of bullies.
There can be serious long-lasting consequences for the person being bullied (and often the bullies themselves). It is not something to be taken lightly.
If you are being bullied
Sometimes it can be tough to do these things, but here are some suggestions. If you are being bullied in person:
- physically walk away
- try to act unimpressed or unaffected
- use other strategies to take the heat out of the situation e.g. ‘fogging’ or casually agreeing with offensive or negative comments, or saying something routine and offhand (‘okay’, ‘whatever’) to suggest you do not care
- do not fight the other person as this may escalate things and you may get in trouble yourself
- say ‘No!’ in a firm voice
- stand and walk in a way that appears confident
- give a quick reply to surprise or disarm the other person
- talk to your parents for their support and guidance – you may also be able to rehearse the techniques above with them so you are better prepared
- if at school, talk to the teacher or other staff.
Review websites with strategies for dealing with bullying and seek help by phoning the Kids Helpline (1800 55 1800) for confidential advice.
If you are being regularly bullied, do not be afraid to seek help by letting your parents know and/or contacting services such as Kids Helpline. It may also be useful to not pay attention to any names or negative remarks that the person bullying you calls you. Teasing and name-calling are common strategies that people who bully others use to offend others.
If it is cyber-bullying:
- don’t respond to bullying messages
- keep evidence of cyber-bullying – including dates, times and descriptions of what occurred, and save/print screenshots, emails and SMS’s, then report the activity to internet and phone service providers or social media sites as they may have rules about this behaviour
- block or ‘unfriend’ the person who is cyber-bullying
- report the activity e.g. to social network sites or police if there is a possibility what has happened is illegal e.g. if it constitutes harassment, stalking or defamation
If you see bullying happening to someone else
If you are a bystander, you can either support what is being done (by laughing, encouraging the bully, passing messages on, or even by being silent and doing nothing) or take safe action to stop it and to defend the person who is under attack.
To take action against bullying you witness in person:
- be clear to your friends you won’t get involved in bullying
- don’t stand and watch or encourage bullying
- don’t spread gossip or tease others
- help someone being bullied to go for help and also report the event yourself to a teacher or if you think it is serious enough, to the police.
To take action against bullying online:
- don’t forward on nasty messages or comments
- don’t let your friends post comments using your login, there is often a reason they don’t want their name linked to the post
- follow the same steps outlined above for a person being cyber bullied.
Importantly, if you find you are, or a close friend is being bullied, do not suffer in silence. Seek help by letting your parents, or teachers or another person you can trust know. Seeking help does not mean you are weak.