This week is anti bullying week and I have seen some great resources and some worthy anti bullying initiatives however what about the wider picture?
We tend to think of bullying as something that happens at school by children to children but it can also happen in school to children by teachers, to parents by teachers or other professionals, to teachers by other teacher or heads, in work places by colleagues or bosses, in the home by parents, siblings or to parents by other parents. Bullying can happen anywhere to anyone. Often it is the obviously different who get the brunt of it the disabled, the cultural or racial minority’s, the overtly rich or the overtly poor but it really doesn’t have any barriers and it is far from hidden, it is right in front of us every day.
It happens in Parliament, on reality TV, in school assemblies or university lectures it seems to me that bullying is actually seen as cool these days. Bullying you see isn’t just about roughing someone up and taking someone’s lunch money it’s about making others feel small, damaging their self esteem, attacking there culture or values, refusing to allow them to join in, making them feel separate, alone and rejected.
For example I see right on cue the next series of I’m a celebrity starting up, a program I can not watch due to how it promotes bullying. Yes I know they get paid, I know they choose to go in there but even so seeing someone struggle and be voted for time and time again, to not only go without enough food as a result but them be turned on by their camp mates, it’s all a bit too lord of the flies for me. But the public in general seems to have an appetite for this kind of thing as recent attacks on Greta Thunberg for the way she looks, talks acts and for being autistic prove, yes many defended her but equally many joined in just as they do with reality tv.
Maybe I feel uneasy because I was bullied in school and later in college myself for being dyslexic, selectively mute and for living in a council house, none of them things I had any power to change, none of them markers of what kind of human I was. Since then it seems the world has only become less tolerant, more seeking of perfection, more laughing at perceived weakness and individuals more under the microscope.
I feel now is the time for change and I do see some backlash from more gentle humans fighting for a better way for everyone fighting hard, often the so called ‘snowflakes’. What makes me happiest is seeing historically oppressed minorities banding together and saying enough, getting their voices heard, demanding their place in the world lead by some amazing advocates who often pay the price themselves.
In short I think this anti bullying week we need to be more conscious, look for where people are using their advantage or privilege to put others down, to deny and belittle them and lets call them out, all just to be that little bit kinder, that little bit gentler to each other. Let’s create safe spaces around us where people can thrive, be accepted, accept others and just be nice. Each and everyone of us, each and everyday have role to play to stop this bullying culture.