For the last few weeks my Instagram and Facebook page have been filled with messages about a subject I know well, bullying! That is because this week is the Anti-Bullying Alliances(ABA) Anti-Bullying Week.
Bullying is an awful and potentially life threatening action that affects not only young people but adults too. There are no official statistics for bullying, however in 2017-18 Childline claims 19,000 counselling sessions took place with children about bullying and stories about young people taking their own lives are sadly too frequent. Lately I have also seen more headlines about workplace bullying, MP John Bercow, retail tycoon Phillip Green have both been accused, a recent BMA report found 4 in 10 doctors experienced bullying at work…even Strictly Come Dancing has been plagued with the issue as Danny John Jules is said to have bullied his dance partner.
There is no denying bullying at all ages has a profound effect, one I can attest to. The bullying I experienced was fairly standard. In middle school one girl made my life hell. She set out to upset me, she turned people against me and called me names, she was malicious. I did have a close friend, which made it bearable, but as we prepared to move up to secondary and my friend announced she was going to private school I was concerned.
I did not want to go to a school where I had so few friends and only my tormentors for company so I changed at the last minute. Sadly at my next school I was also a victim, this time it was less malicious but still not nice. The few friends I had would often leave me out, making me feel invisible.
After a few years I did meet a group of people who became my network, we stuck together and I went out, I participated in friend type activities. But the rest of my year were cruel and laughed at us. I was in a group of so-called ‘grungers’ we listened to rock music, wore baggy clothes and did not like dance music.
I remember a wide variety of name-calling and taunts such as:
“Have a bath you dirty grunger”
“You look like a pig – oink oink”
“You are so ugly”
“Those guys are such a waste of space, I feel sorry for anyone who has to go near them”
It was horrible but I had my friends and most of the time we laughed it off, but it also hurt and left me with very little self confidence, an issue that still plagues me today.
I’ve also experienced this kind of nasty behaviour at work, my first boss in PR was quite simply a ‘Class A’ bitch and a bully, She told me my work was crap, I was useless and will never be any good. Great pep talks like that left me doubting all my abilities, I left PR, deciding this was obviously not the job for me. I later realised I had simply not found my niche.
Bullying has had a big effect on my life, I hate to admit it but as a thirty something year old woman I am still haunted by the taunts. I think to myself I should get over it, it was many many moons ago. But actually this is probably not the best attitude to have…a whole other topic! At the time I also did not handle it very well either, I should have reported it, told my mum or my teachers and not suffered in silence. That’s the main advice now to anyone who is a victim of bullying…NEVER suffer in silence.
Now with a little girl, I am worried, especially as bullying has evolved. When I was at school social media didn’t exist, nowadays you cannot go home and escape the hate, it continues online with cyberbullying; coming at you from multiple platforms, it is unimaginable. I hate to think Cece might experience what I did, it breaks my heart.
That is why it’s so important that people, young people and teachers know about the ABA.
This year the theme for Anti Bullying Week is “Choose Respect’, charities are coming together to help support victims of bullying; encourage people to be nice and even helping those who are the bully. I have since learnt that bullies are often like that because of their own issues and insecurities, while this does not excuse the behaviour, it can help explain why they are doing it and hopefully mean they can be helped to stop.
To find out more about the week and the resources created for schools by ABA click here.
If you are a worried parent, there is some good information here.
For some royally approved (literally) info on cyberbullying, click here.
To find out about bullying in the workplace, please follow this link.
In then meantime remember this week, and in fact all weeks to choose respect and lets all try to and be a little bit nicer to each other.