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Celebrities, experts: Bullying, its effects and how to stop it

Stars like Lucky Blue Smith, Sandara Park and Mario Maurer recently joined hands to campaign against bullying. 

MANILA, Philippines — About 20 percent or two out of 10 Filipino children experience bullying every day.

Research by Filipino clothing label Penshoppe further shows that 80 percent of Filipino teenagers from 13 to 16 have been cyber bullied, while 50 percent or one in two Filipino children have witnessed bullying-related violence in school.

“Based on research, when you have been perceived as different, that is when people start bullying you,” said the brand’s director Jeff Bascon.

Thus, to mark National Children’s Month this November, Penshoppe, a company whose target market is the youth, has recently gathered its endorsers and influencers in one video that campaigns against bullying, particularly cyber bullying.

Local and international stars like Sofia Andres, Ronnie Alonte, Loisa Andalio, Jimmy Alapag, Sandara Park, Mario Maurer, Bella Hadid, Kaia Gerber, and Bella Hadid have come together in the YouTube campaign video to comfort and empower those who experience bullying.

As part of the campaign, the label has introduced #IamDifferent shirts made of 100 percent cotton and with unique serial numbers to remind wearers that it is okay to be different.

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“For young people, being bullied feels like the end of the world…Everything is calculated,” said Bascon. “Because of social media, young people today find it harder to grow up.”

He added that while social media can be used to destroy lives, it can also become a force to spread positivity.

What is bullying?

During the launch, the brand invited experts to talk more about bullying and how to stop it.

Vicky Herrera, co-founder of women empowerment platform SheTalks Asia, affirmed that “bullying is very rampant.”

“It can be very subtle and you do not even know it’s happening because it became normal in the society,” she noted.

Bascon added that bullying has become normal that is why people tolerate it.

“Bullying has no face. Sometimes you might think that someone has the best life but he is actually being bullied,” Bascon said.

Child expert and psychologist Shyann dela Fuente added that “bullying happens over a period of time and there is intent to harm.”

According to her, bullying comes in different forms: physical, verbal and social bullying or when a group of people excludes other people, just like what happened in the movie “Mean Girls” from which came the popular line, “You can’t sit with us!”

But among these, cyber bullying is number one, Dela Fuente said.

“Labeling is also a form of bulling,” added Criss Anne Labayoga of non-government organization Teach for the Philippines that enlists youth leaders to help fill the Philippines’ teachers brain drain.

All panelists agreed that in general, as Penshoppe stated, “Bullying is the absence of understanding, support, compassion, empathy, kindness and fulfillment.”

Effects of bullying

Studies show that around 71 percent of bullying happen in schools, said Dela Fuente.

Some kids are afraid to show their true potential because they are being judged or are scared of being laughed at.

How to tell if your child is being bullied

According to Dela Fuente, when a usually buoyant child suddenly becomes withdrawn or quiet, the child’s guardian should take notice and talk to the child because the kid might be getting bullied.

Likewise, when a child asks for extra money, the kid’s guardian should investigate as bullies might be harassing the youngster to give them extra bucks.

How to react to bullies

Herrera has observed that a lot of bullying behavior is due to insecurity and the need to gain power over someone else.

Thus, Dela Fuente advised that once you get bullied, “do not react because they want power. Just walk away.”

“Talk to an adult and inform him about the situation,” Dela Fuente suggested.

Once, Herrera replied to a bully online by saying, “if you were to hear what you just said, how would you feel?”

She frets that while people keep on talking about women empowerment, it is the women who also turn down their fellow women and become the real-life “mean girls.”

Thus, Vicky advised to “practice to express more compassion to others” and “not antagonizing the bully, too.”

How to stop bullying

First, “don’t be the bully,” said Herrera.

“If you feel angry, address it,” she prescribed. “If it is becoming a conversation, ask your friends to direct your attention to something more positive…Bullying is heightened because of social media, because there is a lot of attacks and malicious comments.”

Labayoga revealed that though there is an anti-bullying campaign in schools, teachers are too busy to address the issue.

Hence, she suggested that parents should prevent bullying right from the start – at home.

“Some of these bullies are also bullied at home,” said Dela Fuente. “So, early on, teach kids to be inclusive in face of diversity…Tell your child early on that it is okay to be different and special.”

As much as possible, try to understand every person’s background, even that of the bullies, to see where they are coming from. Because as TV host Patti Grandidge said in the video, “bullying comes from a dark place…Happy people do not hurt others.”

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