October is National Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.And as the month comes to an end, I wanted to reflect.
Did you know bullying kills 13 million children a year?
If you read that statement and don’t feel like bullying prevention has anything to do with you, please reconsider self reflecting.
This article is not about giving you ways to “fix” this problem. The children who get bullied and are bullies are not a problem we need to “fix.” These children are not broken. These children are misunderstood and lost and hurt. These children are reaching out and want to be heard. As a human it is our moral duty to help those in need.
So the best suggestion I may have for you will not involve me filling this article full of statistics and I won’t inform you of all the warning signs to be aware of and I won’t present all the ways bullying shows up in this world. I won’t be dwelling on these subjects because I think everyone is well aware of what bullying is and what it looks like, but I don’t think many can remove themselves and see fault in their own actions and words and begin to change that. You must BE the change you wish to see in the world. Not study the change, not criticize the change. Not blame or resist or hate the change.
I invite you to ask yourself if you’re compassionate and empathic and if you truly lead by example. At ULP, we make sure to practice compassion and empathy; it is the cornerstone of our trauma informed yoga program.
We all posses compassion and empathy, I just believe we are selective. If we don’t understand a persons story we judge. If we don’t particular prefer a person, we may not support or stand up for them in a time of need. And I’m here to let you know, that is the problem and that is what we need to “fix.”
Since the beginning of time, bullying has been a deep rooted issue in our world. Everyone at some point has been a bully or been bullied. I believe this survival of the fittest attitude was taught to us at a very young age. Whether we bully because it’s our defense mechanism or we can’t handle being bullied because of the lack of support, both are a characteristic we can choose to change within ourselves daily and implement to our younger generation from this point forward.
I was asked an interesting question a few years ago: “is justice or mercy more important?”
I thought this question was interesting because everyone around me was answering justice, while I sat in silence saying, mercy. In yoga, we focus on practicing Ahimsa, which means “non-violence.” Practicing Ahimsa is something all ages should be doing which is why it’s so great that yoga has something to offer anyone of all ages!
Just because someone does something to me, does not validate me retaliating. In no circumstance, ever. Do you agree?
We are shown time and time again that hurt people, hurt people. But as a child, when someone hurts you, you want them to feel the pain you felt. So as children when we grow up and are abused and neglected and unloved and uncared for; this hardens us and we grow up showing this kind of treatment to our own children. Most of the time as a child you do not have a choice in the matter of the environment you are surrounded by. As you grow older you do however have free will to start choosing. Whether you choose to grow positively or negatively has a lot to do with the foundation you have built those decisions on. If you had poor examples or no healthy outlets to life’s ups and downs, this can create utter chaos.
I guess the point I’m trying to make is, bullying is a vicious cycle and we need to start taking accountability and talking about it. And a lot of things contribute to this. And no person will be the perfect person. But if you can keep in mind that bullying is real. Bullying is happening every single day. And bullying kills people. I think we can all agree that, that is simply just not okay.
We may tell our children they need to grow thicker skin and we may make fun of boys who talk about their feelings or girls who show a lot of emotion, but as growing adults, we need to stop expecting children to act like adults and we need adults to act like adults.
The way we treat others is a reflection of the way we treat ourselves. And just as we teach our children in school, the saying: “treat others as you would like to be treated.” It’s truly THAT simple and this is preached about over and over but not practiced nearly enough.
Just like any other awkward teenager going through life’s changes, I experienced bullying that changed the course of my life forever. It’s unique when I say that though, because it wasn’t changed for the worse. I changed high schools my senior year to get away from the social pressures and unnecessary cliques that had formed and I focused on my well being. I decided to remove myself and rise above which I’m willing to bet many don’t have the necessary resources to make this achievable. I am lucky to have had the support when I needed it most, and at ULP we want to create that safe space and support for these children.
To this day when I’m face to face to a bully I turn the other cheek. No, not because I am weak and can’t stand up for myself. I rise above because I recognize people can only meet you where they are at emotionally and mentally. This is my reasoning behind becoming involved with Urban Lotus Project. I want to meet children in a place I’ve been once before. Being a child is painfully awkward and stressful at times. You’re trying to find yourself. You’re trying to understand life. The last thing you need is more pressures and bad treatment and experiences. If I can be a part of an organization where I am inspiring and encouraging and uplifting someone in need, my life has purpose.
At Urban Lotus Project, we have certified yoga instructors that teach trauma informed yoga to at risk youth. This gives children a healthy outlet. This gives children opportunities to self reflect and meditate and be in companionship with others. It helps reduce stress, anxiety, and depression which is a major issue with children who have been surrounded by traumatic experiences.
It’s a beautiful thing to see people in service with each other. It’s a beautiful thing that we have non-profits in place to help prevent further trauma. It’s a beautiful thing to realize we all have a second chance to make a difference or do or be better.
Visit the link below if you’re interested in getting involved:
And visit this link if you want more information about the Bullying Prevention Movement: