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  • Writer's pictureSumbella

Subtle Bullying: When "Nothing" is Actually Harmful

[#quoteoftheday💬] “Healthy people don’t bully. Only unhealthy people do.” - Miranda Banks, Performance Psychologist.

💭#thinkwithme: I am so grateful for the kind words people have been sharing, particularly in response to my posts about defusing bullying - like this one from Ebru Gauri:


The following is an adaptation of a comment I wrote last week to her. She weaves in a very apt quote from Brene Brown in her post too - worth a read.

Like her, I hope that everyone, especially teachers and education professionals, find the courage to speak up and take action to protect themselves if they are being singled out or bullied.

How does bullying show up for a student in a class? It is, by design, so subtle that if you reported it, it could be shrugged off as “nothing”.

But it is far from being nothing.

It is #subtlebullying, and here are some examples:

⚡️ Students complain about a normal, good student being too difficult to work with and make up excuses not to do so, like "The teacher told me not to talk to you until further notice."

⚡️ Students tell another student they 'smell', or directly criticise a personal aspect of the student, and go around seeding this idea in the mind of others. Remember the dreaded 'lurgy'?

⚡️ Students exclude someone from projects, and then complain that they are unhelpful when they eventually are able to participate in it

⚡️ Students dismiss/belittle/demean the work of a student: a talented student in the arts is told over and over that they are only good at organising & cleaning paintbrushes

Do you have any others to add? I invite you to share. Because when you know what you are looking for, it becomes easier to spot it and stop it.

We need to keep our eyes open as teachers so we can nip these in the bud, otherwise they'll be the norm in workplaces later on.

The goal of any bully, as I have said before, is to gain power.

And sadly, when we say nothing, do nothing, or are silenced in the context of bullying, it allows a lot of bad things to go unchecked. It essentially hands power over. And when that happens, negative energy dominates, and bullies reign supreme.

The worst part about all of this, is that this kind of subtle bullying usually goes on for so long that everybody begins to think it is normal and healthy.

It is not.

It is insidious, unkind and unhealthy. I won’t stand for it, and knowing you won’t either gives me great comfort. Which brings me to another quote that I think captures this all perfectly:

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, “What! You too? I thought I was the only one.” - C. S. Lewis

Enjoy this new week, nip subtle bullying in the bud, and be brave! It will help you find the others. ✨


Sara Bareilles - “Brave”

(This song has great lyrics that double up as a pep talk.) 💪😎🕺🏽

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