Have you heard about the rise of the accidental bully? We all know that bullying is a serious issue, and it affects thousands of people. From being bullied at school to being bullied at work or even by family or friends, it’s a huge problem, and it can affect any one of us. The accidental bully is a relatively new discovery, though, and it’s one that we should all know about. Use this list to check that you aren’t an accidental bully, and send it to your friends, too. Let’s end all forms of bullying!
1. Be Sensitive
The whole concept behind the accidental bully is that they don’t realize what they are doing. They might not mean to bully someone, or think that their behavior isn’t that bad. One of the most common accidental bully behaviours is laughing at people who are upset. It sounds mean written out, but it’s actually really common. If you see someone who looks like they need some support, be the person who checks that they are okay, not the person sniggering. Of course, there are times when the person could be laughing along too. I’m clumsy as anything (I’m typing this with a broken wrist!) and I find it hilarious. I’ll always love the people who check that I’m actually okay before laughing along, though.
2. Lose the Rumors
People thrive on rumors. It sucks, but it’s true. We can’t help it. People like to think that they know something, that they’ve been trusted with special knowledge. The truth is, most gossip is made up, or so badly exaggerated that the truth isn’t recognizable anymore. Avoid spreading rumors. Listen, if you have to, but keep them to yourself and don't pass them on.
3. Picking on Someone’s Style
Yes, you might have meant it in jest, or as friendly advice. Nobody really needs to know that you don’t like their shoes, though, or that their attempt at low-key loungewear actually looked like they’d dressed themselves using binbags and sellotape. You’re not the fashion police, so keep it zipped. It’s got so much potential to go wrong that you’re just better off avoiding the whole thing.
4. Being a Mean Girl
Another common accidental bully situation is the use of mean words. Hundreds of girls report being called a slut, whore, or tramp. Many more have been branded too fat, or too skinny, or flat chested, or wide. Some are just called ugly. Many girls admit that the person probably hadn’t meant it to be offensive – after all, there would be nothing accidental about that! – but that it had hurt anyway. We can easily fall into the habit of using bad words without meaning them. That doesn’t mean it won’t affect people, though. Kick those mean girl words out of your vocab.
5. Ignoring People
Okay, so at some point in life, someone has probably told you to ignore it and rise above it. They rarely mean people, though. Being cold shouldered can be really upsetting, especially if you don’t understand why. And while it can seem like it would be nicer to avoid an argument, it rarely works out way. If you must make the disconnect, do it slowly. Don’t just freeze people out.
6. Hiding behind Your Keyboard
Being a keyboard warrior is really common. It’s easy to be just a little too confident and egotistical, and that can come across as quite sharp. Cyber bullying is just as painful to its victims as in-person bullying. Double check every single post, tweet and text, and make sure that you aren’t being mean for the sake of it. Make sure you’re not retweeting anything mean, either. Don’t perpetuate mean things. Be the bigger person.
7. Playful Humiliation
Everyone teases and jokes with their friends occasionally. It’s just what people do. But if you’re trying to embarrass or humiliate someone, you’ve probably taken it too far. That’s not okay, even if you dress it up as a joke. Make sure that everyone is finding this type of thing funny, including the person that you are teasing, and make sure that they are taking it in the way that you intended it.
Being an accidental bully is easier than it seems. It is incredibly easy to dismiss bullying and say that you are smarter than that, but if we all checked our behavior occasionally, there would be a lot fewer victims! Make sure that you aren’t making someone feel bad, accidentally or deliberately. And if you are being bullied, speak out. There is support, and it’s so worth it.