The issue of bullying has hit the news lately with the suicide of an Ottawa councillor’s gay son. (Although the media has shifted its focus a bit to Toronto mayor Rob Ford screaming sexist remarks at 911 dispatchers. Speaking of bullies!) This suicide has caused quite the outrage across the country and understandably so, but it just makes me wonder when all this bullying bullshit is going to stop. Maybe it’s just ugly human nature to attack those who are/think differently or out of jealousy, but I’d like to think that at some point human beings will evolve past all this savage monkey-like behaviour. And I have to say that I’m getting pretty tired of the hypocrisy when it comes to GLBT issues.
GLBT students are supposed to be protected and by this day and age, orientation shouldn’t be remotely an issue anymore. But one look at certain school boards/political groups/ religious organizations and you know that FAR too many people are still embarrasingly ignorant and homophobic. Hell, even at a work holiday party once, this dumbass once complained to me about “All the gays on TV”!
Seriously?? What gays? The only ones I see are on home decorating channels and one token couple on American Family and one kid on Glee. (Or at least I think there’s only one on that show, I never watch it. I’m not a musical fan, well unless “Evil Dead” came to town again!;))
Further, some of the messages being circulated after this boy’s death fail in one crucial element: That a few of the politicians/media personalities giving these messages are gay, but they don’t reveal it in their speeches. Of course, this is a personal decision, but I think your words would carry more weight if you proudly stated your orientation and how you have overcame prejudice.
Anyways, in terms of bullying in general: There are probably three main strategies for dealing with it as a victim-Directness, humor and reporting. I was bullied from Grade five until high school. Sometimes mildly, sometimes more severely, but except for the rare occasion, I lacked the confidence and courage to stand up to my bullies. I also let it get to me instead of laughing them off, insecure people only have as much power as you give them and thrive on making people upset. And most importantly, I didn’t tell my teachers or parents and really should have, authority figures are in the position to help and provide discipline. It may have done nothing and might have made it worse, but at least I would’ve tried. But life is not like a movie script where the perfect words and actions are right in the script, it’s messy and sometimes you don’t always react appropriately and quickly. And as much as I’d like to subscribe to the whole “it gets better” idea, the fact is that many working people in the public and private sectors have experienced some form of bullying or harassment! It’s happened to me personally, despite my best efforts at being nice. The worst part is, they caught me off-guard or vulnerable and I was too shocked to politely and”professionally” tell them to go to hell. Sometimes bullies catch you at the worst time! It’s also hard to believe that some people never grow out of this appalling behaviour but I guess some people never grow up mentally. Little jerks turn into big jerks. I’m planning on taking one of those HR “How to deal with Difficult People” courses and encourage you to do the same, even if haven’t been bullied at work. But I’d like to think that my directness, humor and if possible avoidance and reporting strategies are still important methods though, even when dealing with adults who should know better.
Lastly, I have to state the importance of doing something if you see someone else get bullied. Don’t just stand there, slack jawed or laugh nervously. If you are witnessing harrassment with the intention of causing mental or physical harm, do SOMETHING! Someone’s suffering is not someone else’s entertainment. Young or old, bullying is bullying, the time for talking is over, it’s time to finally make serious changes and eliminate this behaviour before any more lives are lost.