How and Why IAF Works

I’m A Friend (IAF) is an initiative designed specifically to reduce bullying, associated suicide, and the distress caused by those responsible for bullying and harassment in all areas of society.

By wearing or displaying the IAF symbol, people who support the ideals of I’m a Friend make a proud statement that

  • I do not agree with bullying behaviour.
  • I do not accept that it is ok for others to bully me.
  • I will support the victims of bullying in whatever way I can.

This unique initiative gives a voice to the victims of bullying and presents a clear message that this form of behaviour is unacceptable.  One of the objectives is to promote the IAF concept amongst both those responsible for bullying and those who are damaged by it. Our comforting symbol, as seen above, is a friendly eye looking out for you and making a clear statement that “I’m a Friend”. As such, I am not a bully and you in turn should understand that I am not for bullying.  This powerful message should never be interpreted as offensive or arrogant.

Children will have the opportunity to display the IAF symbol on school uniforms, sports gear, lunch boxes, bottles and bags………the list is endless. Everyone else who supports the ethos of this initiative will have similar opportunities to demonstrate their commitment to the objectives of IAF in different ways.

This project offers an opportunity for all organisations to embrace the IAF concept, and to adopt its positive message of continuously looking out for each other in order to build an even stronger bond amongst peers in the wider community.  Bullies should also become more aware that their behaviour is contributing to high levels of stress which in extreme cases can lead to self harm or suicide.

IAF is more than just a symbol, it is a way of life to be embraced with enthusiasm for the benefit of all.

The implementation of the IAF ethos into the workplace should be relatively easy, in that it can be developed within the culture of the organisation through management and leadership.  All employees can adopt the IAF philosophy in carrying out their duties and responsibilities which involve colleagues. More work days are lost through stress-related illnesses (many caused by bullying) than for all other reasons combined. A recent survey indicates that the cost to Irish industry is in the region of 100 lives lost though suicide not to mention a financial expense of €3bn, per year.

The Challenge

Those who are experiencing bullying at work can feel powerless in the absence of the means to tackle the source of their problems. It is hoped that when victims of bullying see others supporting the ideals of I’m a Friend, they will gain empowerment and confidence and recognise that people care about the issue of bullying and want to help in preventing it reoccurring.

So what can I’m A Friend do?

I’m A Friend (IAF) gives a voice to the victims of bullying and communicates a clear message that any form of bullying or harassment is wrong. This initiative is also based upon creating a greater awareness and understanding of the impact of bullying. It aims to establish the appropriate standard of behaviour and to reinforce the importance of setting the best possible example in order to ensure that the principles and guidelines of IAF are achieved and maintained.

I’m a Friend is based on 6 friendship pillars of solidarity in good behaviour, as illustrated below.

6 Pillars of Friendship

 

Bullying Statistics

·       In a study conducted across 32 Dutch elementary schools, 16.2% of 2,766 participating children reported being bullied regularly (several times a month or more).

·       At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied recently.

·       47% of Canadian parents report having a child who is a victim of bullying.

·       The rate of discrimination experienced among non-heterosexual students is three times higher than heterosexual youth.

·       In a Canadian study that surveyed 2,186 students across 33 middle and high schools, 49.5% of respondents reported being bullied online in the previous three months. 33.7% of the sample reported as being the perpetrator of cyber bullying.

·       The most common form of cyber-bullying involved receiving threatening or aggressive e-mails or instant messages, as reported by 73% of victims.

·       Statistics referencing the prevalence of bullying in schools may be understated. In a U.S. study of 5,621 students, aged 12–18, 64% had experienced bullying and did not report it.

The World Health Organization (WHO) published the statistics on suicide recently declaring that 15 million people attempt suicide, in excess of 1 million deaths occurring annually, which is the equivalent of wiping out the total population of Dublin every year.  As bullying is the single biggest contributor to self harm, an obvious solution is to give comfort to the victims.  They must have a voice and the solution proposed by I’m a Friend also includes the reform of the bully.

From reading these statistics it becomes apparent that a pathway to freedom for both the victims and the perpetrators of bullying is urgently needed. This realisation has been responsible for the establishment of I’m A Friend.

I’m a Friend Imagery

The IAF eye symbolises friendship and presents a public sign that the wearer is making a stand as an individual who adheres to the principles and guidelines of IAF.

It is a very simple message but its strength IS its simplicity.

Vision

IAF is about becoming aware of the needs of others in order to establish and strengthen a caring environment which involves looking out for anyone who may be subjected to bullying and harassment in whatever form it might take.

You are asked to remember the three simple statements that supporters of I’m a Friend strive to uphold which are deliberately repeated here.

  • I will not partake in bullying behaviour .
  • I do not accept that it is ok for others to bully me.
  • I will support the victims of bullying in whatever way I can.

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Thank you for your interest in I’m A Friend.