Last year, I was President of the Community Service Club at my school. We devoted a large portion of the year to bullying prevention and awareness, in which I realized that more kids than I thought were being hurt, more often emotionally and mentally than physically. Many students joined the club, many more than I had hoped for, which made it all the more effective to discuss the harm and distress we may cause for others, either directly of indirectly.
There was one girl in particular who after finding the courage to in one meeting, a good number of my peers and I spoke up about to the head guardian of the club. We all felt personally victimized by her in different ways, but talked through it first with the parent and then with the girl, who declared that she had not realized she was hurting us. The confrontation gave the other student and I more confidence, though, so that they could stand up to her when she did it yet again, and the club gave them the knowledge of how to do it wisely, effectively, and without bullying her themselves.
Some students felt surprised to know that it sometimes hurt just as much to watch a friend stand by while other, more “popular” people mocked them as it did to be actually harassed. When someone is being bullied by another student, they already know that person is rude and untrustworthy, but when a friend partakes in the torture simply by watching and not doing anything to stop it, there is an element of shock and hurt. I have been in the situation before, so I can tell you first hand: I already knew that the person that was making the other students not like me, not letting me sit at the lunch table, mocking me in class, and much more was hurtful and two-faced and derogatory. But when one girl who I had known longer than any of the others had not only turned her back but also stood by the girl while she was bullying me, I felt one hundred times more pain. She would act like my friend when we were hanging out at my house or with some of our other friends, but would pretend to not be whenever she was near that other girl. She would not do anything to stop it, which made my trust and respect for her drop more and more each time it happened. You expect it more when a bully hurts you, but less when a person you trust does.
Speak up about bullying. As cliché as it is, talking with a teacher, parent, guardian, or guidance counselor can sometimes greatly help. If you are worried about the bully discovering you were the one who told on you, talk in privately and ask to leave the accusation nameless. If you ask a guidance counselor to keep your name a secret and not speak of it to anyone, they have to. It even helps just to be there for the person being harshly treated, letting them know they have at least one person standing by them. Also, remember that your actions can hurt people, even if you did not mean for them to, and that standing by while another person is hurt physically or emotionally is also a form of evil, not just calling someone names or beating them up. Be careful of what you do and say, and be the better person, the one who is not afraid to speak up and defend yourself and others. Most importantly, always be a friend, and if you are, act like it all the time. It matters all the more to stand by your friend in her or his time of need than it does to be kind to them when they do not need you to be.