WHY CAN’T WE BEAT BULLYING?
There’s nothing new about bullying. However, what is new, is the rise of technology as a tool. What is equally sad, is our failure to use the same technology to beat the bully.
Bullying in childhood used to be confined within a specific group – usually a bunch of school bullies, or the classic big bully from the next street. However, today’s children are exposed to a much wider, public circle.
Understandably, many parents are worried about bullying and fear for their children. It is important to discuss this subject with your children. Bullying is a subject I have dealt with in my own writing and I wrote this story called ‘The Tree Hugger’ about a girl being bullied in school. For various reasons children often don’t tell when they are being bullied and reading stories that raise the subject of bullying can help a child open up.
DOES THE WHOLE WORLD HATE ME?
Social networking sites provide not only a sharp and incisive tool for the bully but also an easy way for them to spread their venom to a much wider audience. This way, the idea that the ‘whole world hates me’ is easily perpetuated, sometimes with fatal results.
It is such a pity the networking sites are not as willing to take responsibility particularly as they make huge profits. They might even find their profits rise. Internet technology is increasingly being used to fight crime – why can’t it be used to defeat bullies rather than enable? Providers should forward details of all bullying sites to the police voluntarily as well as banning their users for being accomplices. Surely this action would enhance their image?
WHY DON’T SOCIAL NETWORKING SITES WANT A GOOD IMAGE?
An image of network providers as responsible, caring business people who defend human rights would surely be a better one to have than that of a faceless bureaucracy who far from caring about bullying actually defend the rights of those who seek to use the Internet to abuse others – because… well, why exactly? Some sense of freedom? Freedom to hurt others?
I’M AN EXPERT – LET ME BULLY THEM
It’s not all about bullying in childhood either. Adults, whether consciously or not, are condoning bullying behaviour by enjoying watching it on television. Matters aren’t helped by the replacement of much quality television drama by reality television. Here is an arena where bullying is encouraged and applauded. Millionaire celebrity ‘experts’ showering their unfortunate trainees with drool as they shout and swear at them is considered funny and entertaining.
Some shows provide no end of bullying opportunities for their participants. People on ‘Big Brother’ and ‘I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out Of Here’ who ‘fail’ their tasks are letting down their ‘team’ or ‘side’ of fellow inmates or housemates who might even be deprived of food as a result of this ‘failure.’ A lot of these shows are simply all about bullying. Picture the participants on reality shows who ‘fail’ to win popularity while being deprived of everything considered normal in life being booed by a happily baying and boisterous mob.
However, I am not blaming television and the Internet for bullying; they are just tools. Bullying has always been with us and no doubt always will. This does not excuse our lack of intervention and support for the bullied. Alongside the rise of technology comes a rise in knowledge. We have the knowledge. We know how to stop bullying but we either don’t have time to make the effort, or we prefer not to. I am not sure which. Perhaps a bit of both! I do remember one or two teachers in my own school adding some of their own brand of ‘teacheristic’ and sarcastic sneering to the misery of one particular girl who was always being bullied.
DON’T BE GOOD!
Many years later, when I used to teach creative writing myself, I heard first hand how little help a severely handicapped student of mine received when his able-bodied classmates viciously bullied him. I was even more shocked to hear that his teacher advised him to stop being such a goody-goody and do something bad so he would ‘fit in.’
Perhaps we should be educating our children and teachers to learn that being ourselves is a goal worth achieving, whereas ‘fitting in’ is a goal more worthy of a sheep. I wrote my children’s story ‘The Tree Hugger’ because I felt so strongly that we should be encouraging and celebrating individuality instead of the ‘herd mentality’ and I felt driven to tell a story about a girl who just wanted to ‘be herself.’
Like many of us I have experienced bullying on a personal level myself. In fact, I am sure there are very few of us who have not been bullied at some time – especially us writers – since a lot of us were quiet and introverted growing up. I have shared my experiences and written specifically about how bullying influences us writers in this post.
If you have any comments or questions about bullying or any other subject on the site – don’t forget I’d love to hear from you.
More from my writer’s diary here.