Alliance Party councillor Lynn Frazer joined PSNI officers at Whiteabbey Primary School on Monday to raise awareness about the issue of bullying.
Speaking after the event, organised as part of Anti-Bullying Week, Cllr Frazer said she was keen to highlight what is often a hidden problem.
“All forms of bullying cause a serious emotional distress which can lead to anxiety, fear, low self-esteem, feelings of worthlessness and depression. Children who are bullied are often afraid to go to school and will make up health problems to stay a home. Research reveals that bullied children are more likely to think about committing suicide. According to some experts, 44 per cent of suicides by young people in the UK are linked to bullying,” she explained.
“Bullying can occur just about anywhere, among any group of people. Children are not the only people who bully. There are many adults who bully and who can do severe damage to others with their negative attitudes. The workplace is a prime example of where adults can be found and identified as bullies.
“The adult bully tries to undermine and destroy anyone they see as an adversary or potential threat. They are adept at creating conflict and have a Jackal and Hyde nature - i.e. they can be vindictive and vicious in private but are often charming and are always plausible in the company of peers or when others are present.”
Cllr Frazer continued: “Identifying someone as a bully is not always as easy as it sounds, as the cruelty meted out by bullies can be subtle, insidious, and cloaked in the most plausible of disguises. If you know someone who usually leaves you feeling worse for having been in his or her company, even though you can’t put your finger on the exact reason, you may be the victim of bullying.
“When someone is bullying you, it is unlikely that there is anything you can say or do to make the bully change their behaviour. The best strategy is to change how you respond. Once you have identified a bully, you must choose not to be a victim, if you want the bullying to stop. Expose the bullying for what it is. Take a stand, and don’t back down. Tell someone you trust, find a safe person and tell him or her what’s been happening to you. Name names and give details. Make your situation very clear. This may require a bit of courage but it will be worth it in the end. The most important thing to remember is you are not alone.
“Remember, speak to someone, a parent or colleague. Organisations such as the Northern Ireland Anti-bullying Forum are there for support.”