Today all across Australia children, teachers and other school personnel are dressing in orange to mark the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence. The Bullying No Way! Program aims to
“create learning environments where every student and school community member is safe, supported, respected and valued”
A very worthwhile goal, I’m sure you’ll agree.
The Bullying No Way website has resources for parents, teachers and students, including this video for young children:
The Prime Minister Tony Abbott delivered a message to children telling them that there is no place for bullying in Australia, that bullying is wrong. I definitely agree!
Last month Yvonne Spence organized a very successful #1000 Speak for Compassion campaign. This month she has placed the focus on bullying and requested bloggers to unite their voices against bullying. You can join in by visiting the Facebook page. I have already linked my most recent post Bully for you! as well as this one. There are many others there to read.
Last week Charli Mills extended a challenge to write a flash fiction story about bullies. She has compiled the wonderful stories in her post Circling the Bullies.
My previous post, Bully for you! received many comments, some sharing experiences of bullying, either of themselves or someone close to them. One comment was from a new visitor to my blog Sherrill S Cannon who shared information about her books dealing with bullying for children, and also explained her involvement with I’m bully free.org to which she donates 50% of the revenue from her books purchased through that page.
There are many other organizations that promote information about and actions against bullying worldwide. Hopefully as more voices unite in making others aware of, and in speaking out against bullying, we can come close to eradicating it from our society.
As Michelle James commented on my previous post
“More needs to be done to prevent bullying. I really believe that there should be more intensive courses for teachers and administrators to learn to deal with the bully issue. We will never eradicate bullying completely. It is a tactic used by despots and terrorists, and sadly, they seem to thrive.”
Many of the comments on the post last week were in relation to the bullying incident involving Marnie. I share her story again here in case you missed it:
Not funny at all!
Jasmine and Georgie rushed towards the cluster of children who were laughing hysterically at something unseen. They expected to see an entertainer performing magic tricks. Instead they saw Marnie, face down in a puddle, reaching for her unicorn; sobbing.
“Good one, Brucie!” Two boys high-5ed. Another called, “Way to go!”
The children stood transfixed by the spectacle. Jasmine pushed through. She picked up the muddied unicorn, stretched out a hand to help Marnie up, then put an arm around her waist,
As she led Marnie away Jasmine glared at the group of disbelieving faces.
“Shame on you,” she said*.
*Thanks to Donna Marie for suggesting I change “mouthed” to “said”.
In this piece I tried to show that there may be many participants in bullying, not just the obvious “victim” and “bully”.
Marnie is the obvious victim. But there were many onlookers. None, except Jasmine, spoke up against the bully. By their silence were they condoning it? Or were they fearful that they would be the next targets if they said anything? Does that also make them victims? How does that affect their confidence and self-image?
Brucie was the obvious bully, causing Marnie’s embarrassment. But what of the boys who applauded with their high-5s and words of encouragement? Were they joining in because they too were mean; part of a gang of bullies? Or like the other onlookers, did they feel threatened about what may happen to them if they didn’t join in?
But is Brucie also a victim? What makes a bully a bully? Why did he pick on the vulnerable? What in his life caused him to act this way?
And what of Georgie who stood back in the crowd and did nothing while her friend Jasmine went to Marnie’s rescue? Why was she reticent to support her friend?
I wonder, too, what they all said when they turned away. Did they speak out in private about the bullies? Geoff Le Pard commented on a similar lack of support for him when he was bullied at school.
Jasmine was the only one who came to her rescue? Why did she? How was she feeling? Had she been the victim of bullying and so felt empathy with Marnie? Did she just know it was wrong and that it was important for someone to take a stand? What had happened in her life to make her so strong?
Donna Marie of Writer’s Side Up commented how being bullied had ruined her boyfriend’s life and suggested that more needs to be done to change the bully’s behaviour. Perhaps some bullies need protection from bullies themselves. Did they need to learn the behaviour somewhere?
The word bullying is sometimes used to describe a one-off unpleasant incident, like poking out a tongue or showing the “rude” finger. However bullying usually refers to something more ongoing, where there is an imbalance of power, the “stronger” picking on the “weaker”.
To avoid becoming the weaker, I think children need to develop resilience. They need to realise that just because somebody says it doesn’t make it true. They need to learn to take responsibility for their feelings, realise that they can choose to feel upset or choose to ignore it. I am in no way saying they should ignore aggressive, violent, intimidating behaviour, but learning to be resilient about the little things helps to develop strength of character.
I think we would probably all agree that bullying is a complex issue with many facets. That education is required to reduce its incidence is a given. What do you think?
Thank you for reading. I appreciate your feedback. Please share your thoughts about any aspect of this post.