Friday, 3 August 2012


photo from WeAreTeens Facebook page
is a very hard thing to endure.  Believe me I know, I have been there.  The picture is posed, but is realistic.  Adults behave exactly like this too.  One of the more difficult things is that each incident is trivial in itself.  No-one sitting next to you, no-one answering when you say hello, the use of the word "we" to make clear that you are excluded from a group, none of these things is major.  What constitutes bullying is that there is a pattern of behaviour, and what defines it is that the negative behaviour towards a person by another person or group is motivated not by anything they have done but by who they are.  Australian trade unions are trying to develop a code for workplace bullying which defines what can be called bullying.  It includes, interestingly for me, "glaring".  Boy do I know what that's like.  But enough about Reading Labour Party.

When someone being bullied tries to complain to a person in authority, that person, who may be well intentioned, usually approaches the alleged bullies about it, to receive a straight denial that such behaviour ever happened, often with aspersions on the mental health of the complainer.  And the person in authority may wonder if they are right about that.  So nothing happens.  There may be picking apart of a series of trivial incidents, with the conclusion that "there's fault on both sides".  No there isn't.  If someone is being bullied it is NOT THEIR FAULT.  Never mind if they are ugly, stupid, clumsy, incompetent, lacking in social skills, or all those things.  No-one deserves to be bullied.  No-one.

I believe tht adults are bullied every bit as often as children and teenagers are.  It's just that bullying tends to happen within closed organisations - like schools - from which there is no escape.  It happens in workplaces, but the person being bullied can leave, and very often does.  Never mind, there will soon be a new victim.  And it happens, especially, in voluntary organisations.  Because you have chosen to join the organisation, you don't want to leave it.  You don't see an alternative.  There isn't usually an alternative political party with the same values, or charity supporting the same cause you believe in, or church which gives space to your strand of belief, round the corner waiting for you.  And so you stay.

If you see someone being bullied, speak out.  Shame the bullies, in public.  It'll be easier for you to do it than it would be for the victim.

Lift up the stone, and watch them run.


Anonymous said...

I agree with every word.

And yes - when the victim goes or leaves, then they just pick on someone else. It has happened now for the last seven eyars in the constituency party serving the seat that I used to represent.
At the moment, the selection for a new candiate is being punctuated by threatening behaviour ( some of it physical); blatant breaking of the rule of selection - some by the Procedures Secretary; and even drunken and threatnening behaviour at one of the official selection meetings.

I pity the evnetual candidate, but say, as I said before -- the problems there are not new. Neither are the bullies. In this seat and in this case, the bullying behaviour has been handed down from generation to gneration for the past 40 years. What a legacy! It has never been addressed because those in a position to address it have preferred to placate the bullies, It is disgusting and disgraceful. li is a crying shame - and I see no prospects of change there, EVER.

Was said...

All well and good but it all falls down if one's complaint on behalf of those being bullied is unknowingly made to the bully's mates, who then cover up for the bully and ultimately harass the people being bullied.

Sometimes, if you can't stand the heat, you have to set fire to the kitchen ;-)