Bullying

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.

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12 thoughts on “Bullying

  1. leashieloo

    I can’t help but wonder if this has always been an issue or if the Internet has made us more aware. Either way, it’s terrible and I know that the newer issue of cyberbullying has been blowing up all over the place. Makes me uneasy to have kids, especially if they end up being a bully!

  2. B

    Sadly, I don’t know if bullying will ever go away. I remember dealing with it when I was in school. I think what people pick on others for will change, it seems to go in circles. Kids were teased for being fat, then for being “goth” or “freaks” and now it’s for who they love or are attracted to. It’s sad and it sucks and more needs to be done.

  3. Pearl

    If not GLBT then it’ll be fat, or tendancy to wear some particular color, or characteristic walk, or some pronunciation or just a random word turned mean and attached to someone. Civilizing beasty humans early would be difficult as chems are set in the womb and hourly so by time a child is 4 or 5 years old, the traits are engrained and the environment still enforcing whatever conditions spur it on.

    I was bullied from around grade 5 until I left for university. Probably violence as a retort would have put a speedy end to it. A pop in the nose or whatever. Telling wouldn’t have helped. Didn’t. I reported when I was little to teachers, parents, extended family and was clucked at and called a crybaby or admonished not to be a tattletale.

    It’s only now that I begin to question the efficacy of my Gandhi stands offs and bowing blessings to tormentors. Bullies don’t care what they latch onto. Individuals noticing when someone is being bothered and crying foul and teaching no secret spaces for bullies to hide could help.

  4. Zhu

    This is more than bullying IMO. When prominent political and religious groups and associations endorse hate, then obviously kids, teens etc. think it’s okay to.

    As long as there will be people claiming “God hate fags” and as long as it will be an acceptable point of you in the name of God, the bullying won’t stop.

  5. Pauline Post author

    Leashieloo-I think that the internet has probably just made us more aware, because bullying has always been around. However, the internet does allow people (ie. cowards) another opportunity to stalk and harass others.
    B-Kids are still teased for being “fat” or dressing different, and when I was younger, all the gay kids were bullied. I don’t think things change too much. The only kind of bullying that isn’t around anymore or at least not in my now multicultural area, is racial bullying. But yes, regardless of the reason, it needs to stop asap!

  6. Finola

    I was shocked about this recent tragedy as well, and I just cannot believe that bullying still goes on in schools. It is unbelievably awful, sad and unacceptable.

  7. Pauline Post author

    Pearl-I am so sorry that you weren’t taken seriously when you reported being bullied, that is terrible! I provided ideas but there are no easy, 100% solutions if you are forced to deal with being bullied on your own, it’s only with everyone not putting up with it will it end.
    Zhu-Yep, exactly! Homophobia is still tolerated or even encouraged in many places and groups around the world, which is awful and is definitely one of the contributors to bullying. Using religion as an excuse for hatred is also particularly stupid and misses the point of most religions entirely!

  8. Pauline Post author

    Lone Grey Squirrel-Great video! I hope the message sticks!
    Finola-It is all of those things and more! I hope that one day bullying inside of schools and the workplace ends! It really divides us as a community and species!

  9. Pie

    We’re an unhappy lot in this world, aren’t we? I don’t imagine there is anyone who has not been bullied at least once in their lives.

    I was bullied by a college ‘friend’ for a short time. My colleagues thought she was marvellous, so no help would’ve been forthcoming there. It was only after she left I found that, to some at least, she was not so great. What shocked me was the speed at which I lost my sense of self and felt there was nothing I could do to change the situation. I don’t expect that to happen again, but I now have the tools to deal with it, if it did. Knowing that these people are usually unhappy and insecure and therefore spread their misery to others, certainly doesn’t excuse their behaviour.

    The internet has made it easier to be nastier, but it has also made it easier to set up groups and campaigns to counteract this most base of human instincts. Perhaps if we all take courage to stop the bullies in their tracks in whatever way we can, suicides, breakdowns and mental scarring would be reduced. A happier world is possible.

  10. Pauline Post author

    Pie-Bullies-Unless they’re sociopaths-are incredibly unhappy and insecure, they just never learned (or couldn’t be bothered) how to deal with these feelings of inadequacy more constructively. It certainly doesn’t excuse it, but I wish everyone was quicker to stop them in before it escalates. You are right, a happier world is possible, but only when everyone cares about each other and not just themselves. Abiding bullying is almost as bad as being a bully.

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