When we launched the I Stand Against Bullying movement over a year ago, we had been running a series of community workshops to educate, inform and share resources among parents and teachers about the strategies and approaches that we believe could help put an end to bullying. To commemorate the National Day of Action Against Bullying and Violence, we ended these workshops with an opportunity for participants to take a personal pledge to stand against bullying, and invited them to share their pledge on social media. The pledge took off and our profile grew with media appearances and a presentation at a national bullying conference. We have worked to enhance the understanding among people in the community and professionals in the field, and to share our approach and our belief that the solution to the bullying issue will be found not in new approaches and strategies, but in creating societal and cultural change.
One of the things we have become aware of in our work and in our involvement with other anti-bullying groups is that there are a multitude of approaches to dealing with the global bullying issue, and not all are healthy or safe. It has become increasingly important to communicate how our philosophy and approach differs from many other anti-bullying groups. Bullying is a serious issue that causes incredible harm to all involved in it. Often bullying is handled in a way that exacerbates this harm, both to those experiencing the bullying and to those who are accused of bullying behaviour. Zero tolerance and punitive approaches can make things worse. I Stand Against Bullying is not associated with zero tolerance and punitive approaches, and we have become aware that this name may be construed as aggressively ‘standing against’, which is not consistent with who we are.
So what does it mean to take a stand?
When we talk about taking a stand against bullying, we define this as making a commitment within ourselves to stand up and say something when we see bullying behaviour, and to do everything in our power to stop it. We consider that being present and remaining silent or not acting is a form of acceptance and even encouragement of bullying behaviour. Standing up is also about looking within ourselves, and challenging our own behaviours, accepting that bullying is a behaviour that can be educated and changed, rather than demonising it as a punishable offence. Some approaches to dealing with bullying actually reflect a form of bullying themselves. To take a stand also means to stand against punitive bullying approaches, and to instead deal with bullying with a compassionate, educational approach. Punishment of bullying behaviour is often the ‘go to’ course of action. It is one of our aims to change this.
Time for a revolutionary change
As our movement has grown, we are no longer just a Facebook page where individuals can pledge their commitment to end bullying: we are a global organisation that has evolved and outgrown its name. We stand against bullying. But we have learned that this is not enough. It is a revolution that is required, a whole new perspective to an age old issue that 30 years of research and a myriad of approaches has not solved. We stand against bullying. But we do not stand against “bullies”. Our aim is to end bullying by educating people and communities on how to create a culture where bullying behaviours no longer exist. We seek revolutionary change in the way we look at, define, and approach the issue of bullying. As such, our name no longer accurately or completely captures who we are and what we do. Our new name better reflects us in personality, in philosophy, in action, and in our mission and objectives.
We believe in a world without bullying. We assert that if this belief is combined with the right interventions we will begin to see that revolutionary change is possible. Our aim is to find and connect a global community of people who want to join us for this ride.
The Bullying Revolution is here!