I remember from an entry level psychology class, decades ago, that one of the essential elements of helping build young people’s self-esteem is allowing them to feel and be SEEN. “I see you,” and “I hear you,” are important validations to offer a growing child to support and validate their person.
It’s interesting that this is particularly effective as a method in dealing with bullies. Recently at a public forum in my community an individual suggested a process for appropriate response to bullying called “Ring the Bell.” It means create a natural and safe distraction that allows for one or more OTHER people to communicate to the bully, “I see you.” You are visible. What you are doing right now is being observed by more than just the one being bullied.
It breaks the momentum. It creates a natural, non confrontation distraction. In this way the pace is stopped, the bully has moments to evaluate the consequence of being seen and the observer provides a safe mechanism to intervene. One of the difficulty with a person who bullies is that when faced with confrontation or embarrassment, they can escalate the harm they bring. With “ring the bell,” the intervention, while immediately effective, seems almost accidental. And there’s no blame or justice being levied...just an escape route. And at certain moments: that is the most essential element. I wish oh I wish that somebody had been able to “ring the bell” for Bobby Tillman.
STAND - Start Today A New Direction. Bullying must stop being considered “an acceptable” part of growing up. It is NOT acceptable.