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Friday, 31 October 2014

SU4S1

A little while ago, I had the idea to kickstart an initiative called 'Stand Up for Someone', with the nickname 'SU4S1'. It was an anti-bullying initiative that I headed for a while before other things took over. I started it from experience (maybe another day) and anger, and it really was a bit of a flash project. It never really took off. But I was looking through posts of mine on a long-abandoned blog when I found the post below.

I'd like to get SU4S1 rolling again, so please, spread the word, and I'll do my fair share too.

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We are SU4S1 and this is our Anti-Bullying initiative.

SU4S1. Stand up for someone.

Have you ever seen someone being picked on? Bullied? Roughed up? Abused?
Maybe you haven't even realised what exactly you were seeing.
Do any of these ring a bell?

  • the argument on Facebook;
  • the captioned photograph;
  • the snowball fight;
  • the chase at the rink;
  • the bag being thrown around.

Whether you realised it or not, these could all have been forms of bullying. The argument could have been friendly banter, but it could have been cyberbullying. The captioned photograph could be a joke between mates, but it could have been posted without consent. The snowball fight could be harmless fun in the snow, but it could be a dangerous way of physically abusing somebody. The chase at the rink could be a game of tag, or a race to see who is fastest, but it could end up with someone being hurt with the other person's skates. Maybe you don't instantly recognise bullying in some of its forms.

This is because teachers, parents and websites don't always give you the lowdown on what's what. They tell you what everyone tells you. They don't tell you all the risks, they don't tell you all the things to look out for; instead they tell you so-called facts and pointless figures...rather than showing you what you could do to help a sad statistic feel like a person again.

Our guide here at SU4S1 comes from people who know. People who have been there, done that. People who can tell you what you really need to do.

So, what is bullying?
Well, if it is repeated, and a person is hurt or upset or even just confused by it, it's bullying.
Here are some things you may have seen:

  • Physical: pushing, hitting, shoving, headlocks, slapping, tripping, barging, grabbing, strangling/choking, pulling, gripping, scratching, hair pulling, chinese burns, burning with lighters/cigarettes/matches etc., beating with sticks/chains/belts etc., twisting arms/hands/legs/fingers round, bending fingers back, kicking, standing on someone or someone's body, taking someone's hat/bag/scarf/gloves etc. from their body, crushing hands, bear hugs, slamming someone's head against something e.g. a wall, shutting someone's finger/arm/hand etc. in a door, flicking, throwing things, spitting, throwing snowballs or other objects, shooting, flicking objects, jabbing, tickling, physically restraining a person (holding them back), squeezing, headbutting, cutting/stabbing, sitting on someone, pinning someone to the floor or a wall, whipping, poking, prodding, pouring water on someone, forcing someone to eat/drink something through force-feeding etc..
  • Verbal: name-calling, threats, rumours, shouting at someone, making noises at someone, saying cruel things about a person or anything related to them e.g. friends and family, remarks about skin/hair/eye colour, remarks about height/weight/size, remarks about speech/accent/impediment etc..
  • Psychological: threats, turning people away from someone, spreading rumours, telling people they cannot be friends with someone, singling out, making and enforcing impossible rules for one person, if rules are not kept then making unreasonable or unpredictable punishment for the person, public humiliation, telling somebody they are worthless or fat or gay, telling people repeatedly that they should kill themselves, forcing someone to do something, demanding money etc..
  • Sexual: touching of any genitals or erogenous areas, rape (defined as any unwanted sex in which penetration occurs), slapping/pinching someone's bottom, forcing someone to watch porn, forcing someone to touch them, grooming, attempting to rape someone, making sexual remarks about someone, threatening to rape someone etc..
  • Cyber: posting videos or photos against someone's will (or without consent and refusing to remove them), posting any kind of derogatory or unkind stuff about a person, liking a blatantly derogatory status/retweeting the same, anything under verbal and most of psychological which is done through text, email, Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, Flickr, YouTube, Blogger or any other social networking site (including SnapChat) etc.

What Can Happen?

This little section just tells you about three possible long-term effects of different kinds of bullying and abuse. There are many, many more but these are just a few.

  • Post-Concussive Syndrome: this is the term for the confusion, disorientation, forgetfulness, headaches, dizziness and amnesia that continue on for a long time following trauma to the head. In cases of physical bullying or abuse where trauma to the head occurred, PCS may be developed. It can last for years, and medical treatment should be sought as soon as symptoms start to develop, usually a few days or weeks following the first head trauma. Symptoms are: confusion, dizzy spells, short-/long-term memory loss, trouble sleeping, trouble finding words, trouble remembering things, headaches, nausea and seeing stars or struggling to focus eyes. Some less common symptoms are glassy eyes, unusual emotional responses (e.g. mood swings, or suddenly bursting into tears) and slurred speech or trouble speaking.
  • PTSD: this is short for Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder. This can happen to people who have experienced anything traumatic, whether it is war, witnessing crime, or being a victim of bullying, abuse or other crime, or sudden death of a loved one. Symptoms of PTSD are intrusive, upsetting memories of the event, flashbacks (acting or feeling like the event is happening again), nightmares (either of the event or of other frightening things), feelings of intense distress when reminded of the trauma, intense physical reactions to reminders of the event (e.g. pounding heart, rapid breathing, nausea, muscle tension, sweating etc.), avoiding activities, places, thoughts, or feelings that remind you of the trauma, inability to remember important aspects of the trauma, loss of interest in activities and life in general, feeling detached from others and emotionally numb, sense of a limited future (you don’t expect to live a normal life span, get married, have a career), difficulty falling or staying asleep, irritability or outbursts of anger, difficulty concentrating, being on red alert all the time, feeling jumpy and easily startled. PTSD is a sensitive area and should be treated with care and warmth, rather than hostility and disbelief. 
  • Depression: this is common in people who are victims of bullying and abuse. Main symptoms of depression are sadness, a gloomy mood, dark thoughts, a feeling that life isn't worth it, loss of interest in activities once enjoyed, being dissatisfied with everything, not wanted to get up and do things, fatigue, not talking much etc., although these vary with each person and some people may experience different symptoms.

What Can I Do?

At SU4S1, we believe it is a 1-for-2 situation. With every 1 person who likes the page or reads the blog, we expect them to stand up for at least 2 people. But, although we are a cause dedicated to getting people standing up for each other, here's a list of other things you can do to help the person in need.

  • offer them a drink or a bite to eat following an incident. Drinking in small sips can help to calm and soothe someone who is angry or upset or shaken.
  • offer them something sugary e.g. a sweet or a fizzy drink. The sugar is good to help calm the nerves and help someone who is shaken up to relax. Sugar is good for shock and fear, so having something sweet will help to calm things down.
  • help clean up any bruises or cuts or other marks. Even just wiping a bit of dirt off a knee with a wet-wipe can make someone feel a bit better after an incident.
  • tell them good stuff. Like how nice they are, or that they are pretty, or they've got plenty to live for, plenty of friends etc.. This may help a person feel better about themselves.
  • offer to walk them home. Some people feel safer if they have someone on hand to make sure they get home ok. 
  • allow them to talk with you about it, and remind them you are there to listen.
  • respect their wishes. Remember, some people may want to be alone rather than have someone walk with them, for instance. Some people may not want to talk about it. Some people may just want to cry, where some people will pretend nothing happened.
  • tell them you'll stand up for them in future. If you didn't stand up for them then, stand up for them the next time. It's a nice thing to hear from someone, so just remind them.

Give Me Some Stats!

Finally, we'll round off with some stats. Stats about bullying...and projections for how we at SU4S1 want it to change, if everyone goes 1-4-2.

  • In the UK last year, about 65-70% of children between the ages of 0 and 19 reported being bullied. That is about 10,191,150 children.
  • About 50% of these children reported being physically hurt. That is 5,095,575 children.
  • 34% of those children hurt required attention from a doctor or the hospital. That is 1,732,496 children.
  • 3% of these children's attacks involved a weapon. That is 51,975 children attacked with a weapon.

If 100 people went 1-4-2 that year...

  • 10,190,050 children would have been bullied.
  • 5,095,375 children would have been physically hurt.
  • 1,732,296 children would have required medical attention.
  • 51,575 children would have been attacked with a weapon.

So what could happen if 500 people went 1-4-2 that year?

  • 10,190,150 children would have been bullied.
  • 5,094,575 physically hurt.
  • 1,731,496 requiring medical attention.
  • 50,975 children attacked with a weapon.

And what if 500,000 people - that's 1/ of the UK - had gone 1-4-2?

  • only 9,191,150 children would have been bullied.
  • only 4,095,575 physically hurt.
  • only 732,496 requiring medical attention.
  • and maybe only a couple of children attacked with a weapon.

Of course, that's still nearly 10,000,000 too many children being bullied. But we can change this around.

We are SU4S1 and this is Anti-Bullying Week 2013.
We are SU4S1 and this is us.