If you can’t be nice, be silent

Published 12:21 am Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Last week, I had the opportunity to sit through one of Phil Chalmers’ adrenaline-pumped seminars for students on bullying and a host of other issues related to students.

Chalmers talked to students about what can happen when their peers are bullied.

He warned students and administrators of the dangers of bullying as well as indirect bullying. All in all, it was an enlightening hour.

I can’t tell you the number of parents I have heard complain about bullying. For the same amount of parents I have heard complain, there are that many who don’t believe it exists.

Heck, there are plenty of adults who still haven’t learned what bullying is.

Yes, adult bullying exists.

According to nobullying.com, there are five types of adult bullying.

• Conceited adult bully: This type of adult bully is egotistical and shows little or no mercy for others. They feel good when in control and when hurting people.

• Imprudent adult bully: Adult bullies in this category lash out at their victims and have no emotional control.

• Somatic bully: While an adult bully may not use physical abuse, he or she may threaten to hurt victims and destroy their belongings or property.

• Verbal adult bully: Words are powerful and have a very strong effect on people. Verbal bullying can cause victims to lose interest in their lives in general and may even lead to depression; and

• Ancillary adult bully: These are people who suck up to bullies and avert attention from themselves by helping bully others. Secondary bullies may feel guilty about their deed but will let it go in view of saving themselves.

And let’s not forget cyberbullying.

I’ve had a Facebook account since 2005, and it seems that people lashing out on social media gets worse by the day.

Get some thick skin, you say?

Sticks and stones will break your bones but words will never hurt, you say?

That’s a big lie. Even the biggest, most macho person in the world has been affected by negative words. Let’s face it: they hurt.

Calling people derogatory names or publicly humiliating them because they aren’t the same as you or they don’t hold the same beliefs as you is a form of bullying.

Living with a bully is even worse. You have to grow some thick skin and you have to learn to do it quickly.

Combatting belittling remarks can be hard. Learning not to let those words affect you is even harder.

But combatting bullying shouldn’t rest on the shoulders of the one who has been bullied.

We should each make a conscious effort not to be a bully.

It’s easy to jump in a conversation at work and talk about a co-worker. It’s even easier to sit behind a computer or cell phone or tablet and spew venom on social media.

How can we expect our children to not be a bullies, if these are the examples we are setting?

As cheesy as it sounds, if we can’t say something nice, we shouldn’t say it at all.