In the age of the internet and social media, bullying has become amplified as children and teens become victims of its effects. As mentors, you are in a unique position to support your mentee if they are experiencing bullying, and also provide guidance if your mentee is bullying someone.
The definition of bullying is a repetitive negative act, founded on an imbalance of power between the bully and their victim. Bullying can take on different forms like verbal harassment, physical assault, or spreading rumors about someone or a group of people. If your mentee shares they are being bullied, it’s important to actively listen and validate their feelings. Foster a safe space with your mentee where they feel comfortable talking about it. You can also help your mentee advocate for themself by creating a plan for when they are being bullied. This plan can include telling a trusted adult on campus together or figuring out different resources that can help. Bullying is founded on an imbalance of power, so it’s important to help your mentee build up their confidence in advocating for themself, their safety, and the safety of others.
“What if I suspect my mentee is bullying someone?” If you are asking yourself this question, recognize that the youth who bullies others isn’t a bad person, there are underlying factors contributing to their behavior. As their mentor, you are positioned to support your mentee and encourage them to seek positive ways to address what they may be experiencing, rather than bullying others. By asking how they cope when they aren’t feeling their best and to consider how their treatment of others impacts peers and relationships, you are creating space for an open discussion about the underlying issue. Avoid coming across as accusatory towards your mentee and use positive redirection in offering your support as they learn how to cope with their circumstances without taking it out on others.
If you feel you need help in supporting your mentee and their experiences with bullying, you can always reach out to your Mentor Director.
Below are some links with helpful information on bullying: