I was surprised to watch the 28 April 2008 episode of 60 Minutes containing the feature entitled Mean Girls and to see how bullying has progressed with technology from a schoolyard annoyance to a to become something of a 24/7 (i.e. every hour of every day) phenomenon. In this article, I reminisce about my experiences of bullying at high school and communicate the practical ways that I chose to deal with it.
Here is a precis of the relevant episode, borrowed from TV3's Website:
Bullying has become a lot more private in that it is harder for teachers and parents to see it happening, but it has become a lot more public in that the whole world can witness it first hand. Schoolgirls use computers and mobile phones these days to carry out their bullying which means they can torment their victims day and night. The consequences are horrendous, ranging from school grades suffering to suicide. Correspondent Liam Bartlett looks at the kids who are the hapless victims and the parents who seem powerless to help them.
Bullies by their nature prey upon people who already have low self-esteem. Bullying of those individuals only serves to lower their self-esteem to lower than what it already was. If you are different in some way but are not popular enough to be different then it is quite likely that you will fall victim to school bullying. The high school that I went to was mainly attended by rugby-playing jocks. By being of above average intelligence and not liking rugby put me in the spotlight of bullies. Because I had one close male school-friend called Mathew Pickering that I used to build tree-huts with I was labelled as a homosexual and then bullied for allegedly being one, which is quite ironic because the game of rugby is very much a game for closet homosexuals with all of the crotch grabbing and hugging that goes on in that game.
Although bullying can be physical, it is mainly psychological in character. Weaker individuals can be scarred for life. However when I was teased I was aware that the actions of a teaser will not be remembered into the future, instead only friendships will be remembered. This small piece of knowledge saved me from suffering at the hands of bullies, as I was able to mainly simply ignore the bullying (as you would do to a stubbed toe, knowing that the bullying wasn't going anywhere. This is especially true of your high school reunion, where the actions of bullies will be long forgotten and instead only friendships will be remembered. It can be amusing to learn what kind of lousy jobs your ex-bullies do get. For example one of my bullies ended up firstly working for a city restaurant and then a few months later for K.F.C.
When you are at school you are inhabiting an environment that is unique to human existence. Nowhere else, except possibly in prison and to a lesser extent in the army and to a still lesser extent the work-place are you forcibly in close contact with such a large number of people. When someone teases you outside of school, you can just ignore them and walk away and you can be sure that you probably will never ever meet with that person again. On the other hand, when someone teases you while you are a school pupil, you can be sure that you will bump into the teaser again quite soon.
If you are bright enough, the best way to stop teasers from teasing you is to simply leave school and to enter into university or the workplace at a younger-than-average age, places that (especially university) are vastly more tolerant of individuals expressing themselves and more importantly have no bullying.
If you are not bright enough (as was the case with myself) to enter university or work at a below-average age, then the best thing a male can do to stop being bullied by males is to choose a co-educational high school. The presence of girls in the class pumps blood from the brains of a bully to his penis, thereby suppressing the bullying behaviour. If you are female victim of bullying I am not sure if the analogous case applies to you, due to a lack of knowledge on my part.
To deal with the physical nature of bullying, you should enrol in a self-defence class. I recommend choosing a martial art that has bone breaking, strangling or or other potentially dangerous moves. When someone physically assaults you in school, you should either respond in kind or report their actions to the staff. Non-physical bullying should not be reported to staff unless you can provide evidence (such as written threats, emails or possibly enough third party witnesses) to prove that the non-physical bullying has occurred. When evidence is lacking, you should simply ignore the bullies, as to tell on them will only label yourself as a so-called tattletale and single you out to be the target of more bullying.
If bullying is serious such as involving serious assault or threats to kill or seriously injure, the police should be notified and the matter should be left for the police to deal with. You should forgive those people who are your enemies, but you should also remember their names (a piece of advice which can be attributed to John F. Kennedy).
They say that the more advanced technology becomes, the worse people treat each other. Like the 60 minutes episode says, in the age of the Internet, recorded bullying (in the form of video clips taken by cell-phone cameras) spreads through the Internet like a virus. This is despite the efforts of individuals to stop this spreading by shutting down individual Websites. Despite the fact that videos of bullying in action goes against consensus morality, some individuals hiding behind the barrier of anonymity like watching people suffer. The only advice I can give to people who are bullied in this way is to simply ignore the Websites that display this bullying.
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