Friday, October 19, 2012

Authors Against Bullying

I’m glad to be joining Authors Against Bullying today with this blog post. You’ll find a list of all authors and blogs at the end. Thank you for reading and thank to the creators of #AuthorsAgainstBullying for letting me be a part of this.

Choices

Bullying is poisonous. It leaves an impact, at its worst, it takes lives. It’s not so hard to explain the dynamics: a bully chooses to lay the blame for their own insecurities and paranoia. It might be projection, not a conscious choice, but that doesn’t make it any less of a choice. They need an audience. A cheering peer group or even indifferent class mates will work, giving both the bully and a victim a skewed view of the numbers, making the bully appear far more powerful than they are--and so it goes on. Seeking help is difficult even if such help is in place. It shouldn’t be. If your car is stolen, you don’t expect the police to tell you to go find it yourself, do you?

A bullied kid has already gotten a lot of unwanted attention. Not only do they need to know without a doubt that there is a way out, but also that it’s the bully who is weak, not them. The promise from us, the adults, hinges in part on how well we communicate this, with regard to immediate and long-term solutions. What kind of behavior do we encourage as “strong”? What exactly is the “better”, grown-up world that awaits a teenager who in the present, is afraid to go to school? When defining accountability and responsibility, we can’t afraid to give an inch. There can be no exceptions when anti-bullying measures are put into place. If you’re worried that these measures will have a negative influence on your liberties, you’re saying that it’s not so bad after all. There are enough suicide statistics to prove you wrong.

It’s personal

I was bullied in high school for several years. You take safety measures, avoid certain situations, withdraw, give that one person way too much importance. When the smoke cleared, it was baffling to learn that the kids in question might have been louder and meaner, but they weren’t exactly well-liked by everyone. In fact, they weren’t important after all. Like so often, being popular in high school has little to do with achievements in later life. It did get much better, but I remember what it was like fearing that it never would.

It takes all of us

Most people agree that bullying is wrong, and that the responsibility lies with the bully, not a kid who happens to get on the bully’s radar because of being gay, smarter, wearing different clothes or a different hairstyle.

Yet, it is too easy for some to hide behind a nickname and discredit victims even after a tragic death. Every blog post on Spirit Day, every icon turned purple and every voice speaking out is showing them a red flag. Accountability starts right here. We need to make a clear statement on what behavior is acceptable, where we draw the lines, and what the consequences are. I believe that by doing so, we can change choices, those of the victim and the bully.

6 comments:

  1. I'm not sure bullies do what they do because they are insecure themselves. In fact I don't think so. I used to get bullied myself and often I was told that it was their own insecurity or jealousy, but thinking back I can't discover any hint of that, and looking into stories of those like Amanda Todd's... I don't see it.

    Especially in cases like Amanda Todd's. She'd moved several times. She wasn't a threat to anyone. She didn't stand out. She hid. She was depressed. There was nothing to be jealous of, nothing to be insecure about. I'm not saying Amanda had no qualities or that she wasn't pretty. What I mean is: even after her first suicide attempt people kept bullying her. She was told she had to try and commit suicide again. She was told to try a different bleach. (She drank bleach the first time she tried to commit suicide.) And it wasn't done by one bully either.

    How does that relate to people's own insecurities and/or jealousy? I think it's a matter of power. I think sometimes people just relish the power they have over another person and that they really enjoy putting them down, making them feel bad.

    Anyone with a little empathy doesn't understand that and I can't grasp it on an emotional level, but it's the only plausible explanation I can think of.

    But yes, I do believe that we should all take a stand. We should outnumber the bullies and tell them that it's socially unacceptable what they do. That they are going to be the outcasts if they continue their behaviour. That they are the misfits. That we don't condone such behaviour. We don't have to boycott them. Or bully them back. But we can let them know that whatever they tell themselves to justify their behaviour, it is wrong. Only then things will change.

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    1. Thank you for reading and commenting! I agree that power is definitely a factor, then again, someone with a healthy self-confidence would not feel the need to harass another person. Whatever the explanation is in each case, it's important to stop it early, and like you said, we don't have to bully back, but to communicate without a doubt that their behavior is unacceptable, that there'll be real consequences. If it isn't done early, many will grow up to think what they did wasn't so bad, or on the same level as a "prank".

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  2. Thanks for sharing your thoughts. empowered by all the stories of hope and encouragement I’m reading today. :)

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    1. Thank you for stopping by! It's great to see how many have overcome what was a terrible time in their lives.

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  3. Well said--though I think if there is going to be a change, whatever we teach has to go a bit beyond just outlining what the standards of acceptable behavior are. Without ensuring it's understood why it's so cruel and that there are consequences for their actions, it's not going to be effective. Just my thoughts on the matter.

    <3,
    -J

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  4. You're right, there must be consequences. Just telling them that what they are doing is wrong is not enough. Thank you for your comment!

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