My letter in response to reports of a bullying epidemic in a school local to me:
I feel I cannot be silent after hearing of the appalling treatment of pupils at Rednock school in Dursley. This may not be a problem unique to Rednock, but there are obviously serious concerns there.
We like to blame the school entirely, but I believe we all contribute to the disgraceful, and to a large extent- socially acceptable- form of toxic abuse.
How do we all contribute you may ask?
– By passing by when we see somebody being verbally or physically attacked, thinking it’s somebody else’s problem. It is our problem too. We are so scared of becoming bullied ourselves to stand up for someone. This increases the bully’s power over US.
If we are scared of the bully and take no action, we are contributing to the problem.
– By laughing as a bystander when somebody else is chastised for some small thing- red hair, an overweight body- whatever the issue may be.
By laughing we are contributing to the problem.
– By allowing people in our own family to constantly pick on, criticise and demean a particular family member- this in itself is bullying, and is setting up the target for further bullying at school because they learn to accept such behaviour. This behaviour may take place in private or in front of others. In private it is particularly insidious and difficult to spot, and yes, it does happen- from parents and siblings, and also from children to their parents.
By allowing bullying at home, we are contributing to the problem.
– By over-protecting our children. They do not learn to protect themselves, this is such a crucial life skill. If a child is not taught how to protect themselves- how are they meant to do this in the real world. We are setting them up for bulling.
By over- protecting our children, we are contributing to the problem.
– By befriending a bully. It can feel good when a bully likes us. They have tremendous social power, and control through fear- therefore approval from such a powerful individual can feel especially gratifying. Joining in the chastising of certain targets, gaining the approval of the bullying instigator can feel good, so we become bullies too.
By befriending a bully, we become bullies ourselves. We are contributing to the problem.
– Some teachers have allowed themselves to be so concerned with their job performance that they have no energy left to notice or prevent bullying.
By putting our own job performance ahead of the care of children, we are contributing to the problem.
The government wants us to accept bullying tactics- because they use them themselves. They don’t want people to have their own voice and stand up to those with power, so why would they see tackling bullying as such an enormous problem?
WE are the ones who give bullies their power. WE let them terrorize, not only in schools, but in workplaces, and at home too.
The targets are often so beaten down and battered by the abuse that they are left with very little energy reserves to deal with the abuse or learn to overcome it. WE must do something- we who have energy left to stand up and prevent the bullying. WE are the ones who must not accept this behaviour anymore and take action.
Schools, no doubt, must do MUCH MORE to tackle bullying, and I mean MUCH MORE.
WE are the ones who insist that getting good grades at school is more important than overcoming bullying. It is not. It is such a key life skill to be able to protect yourself from bullies, by learning to love and appreciate yourself so much for who you are, that you will protect yourself fiercely- this should be made PRIORITY over how well we achieve in school.
Those who are bullied frequently have been taught that they are not important or worthy or loved, and that to be disrespected in such a humiliating way is just how things are, and to be expected. They have no self-esteem left to protect.
WE must teach our children how loved and supported they are in life. This way they will feel good about themselves and not allow themselves to be bullied.
WE must treat children with equal respect as adults, not shame and demean them because they need looking after. They have less power than adults and so it is especially important for them to be treated with respect, so that they respect themselves. When they learn to protect themselves, they will not accept bullying either.
WE must teach them that they are not over-sensitive, it’s just that other’s can be extremely cruel. It is not their fault.
WE must stop allowing bullying to happen in front of our own eyes and thinking it is somebody else’s problem. It is a problem for ALL of us.
WE give the bullies power by allowing them to terrorise, whether in school, at home or in the workplace.
WE have to stop being passive and accepting that abusive behaviour is the norm.
Bullying should never be considered normal. It is NOT normal. The kids who are abusing are also likely to be abused at home or elsewhere- they learned this behaviour from somebody!
WE need to take responsibility too.
WE are part of the problem, but also the solution.
WE must NOT allow bullying to be socially accepted anymore.