Thought you left bullying behind in high school? Think again. People take their prejudices out into the world with them, so bullies can appear anywhere: at work, in church and even in your own family. They might not throw you against a locker or shake you down for lunch money but dealing with constant teasing and negative comments can be troubling for even the hardiest soul. Instead of pulling your hair out in frustration, or caving into the pressure to change your hair, here are a few common sense tips to bolster you and your children against any wagging tongues speaking out against your hair.
1. Don’t Ignore it (unless you want to)
If someone is making it a point to insult you, sweeping it under the rug can trigger a host of issues including depression and low self esteem and eventually affect job or school performance. If it’s bothering you, don’t be afraid to address the issue.
2. Keep Records
Many schools and workplaces have a zero tolerance policy against physical and verbal aggression. If someone is taunting you, or your child has been targeted by bullies at school, make sure to document the incidents so you have a clear, objective record of assault that you can present to an authority figure.
3. Stand Up
Don’t be afraid to confront your tormentor, carefully. Calling them out in front a large crowd could exacerbate the situation. Find a moment when the two of you (and perhaps a neutral third party )can speak privately, and address your concerns. Stick to the facts, and give the bully the chance to respond. Let them know firmly but politely that if the teasing doesn’t stop, you’ll be forced to escalate the situation to Human Resources.
For children, confronting a bully can be a bit more difficult. According to www.stopbullying.gov, the government official anti-bullying website, its best for kids to confront bullies in the presence of group. It recommends that children try diffusing bullying situations with a joke or by telling their aggressors to back off in a calm, unemotional voice. If they don’t want to speak, then kids should walk away and find an adult to stop the attack.
4. Talk to the Boss
Most adults and kids will back off when confronted, but in special cases, like when you’re dealing with the most asinine and/or evil, you may need help from a higher authority. If you can’t get your co-worker to give peace a chance, talk to your HR representative. If you’re taking flack from a friend or relative, recruit a mutual acquaintance as an advocate when you confront the bully.
When your child needs to talk with someone about bullying, make sure he or she knows that they come to you for help. Together, the two of you can come up with a plan to tell the teacher or principal about the situation.
5. Exit Strategy
Let’s say dealing with a bullying situation with logic and reason doesn’t work. You’ve spoken to them on several occasions, but they just can’t get it through their thick (and possibly chemically processed) skulls that your hair is your business. In fact. speaking to them only made things worse. Then it’s time to remove yourself from the equation. If a buddy or even a brother won’t stop criticizing your curls, put some serious distance between the two of you. Forgoing a family event or getting a new job may seem disruptive, but making a drastic change is better than dealing with a demoralizing and possibly dangerous situation.
6. Set the Example
If you witness someone being bullied, step in and change the conversation. When a person is being harassed, the silence of witnesses is often mistaken for consent. If an encounter makes you uncomfortable, say something. Set the example, by refusing to gossip or mock others for their differences or personal choices. That means no going in on women rocking relaxers or weaves, or endless preaching about the merits of natural hair.
There’s real merit for in stepping for children. In bullying cases involving kids, nearly half of all encounters stop when a bystander gets involved.