08 February 2010

Bullying

Today four men were fined for bullying which caused a beautiful girl to take her own life. You can read the story at The Age.

Brodie Panlock was subjected to verbal and physical workplace bullying. Her colleagues called her fat and ugly, poured fish sauce on her clothes and in her hair, and when she took rat poison in attempt to take her own life but didn't succeed, they taunted her for not succeeding and encouraged her to take more.

It is heartbreaking to know that human beings have the power to make others feel so worthless to the point they take their own life.

I have been bullied throughout my life, mostly at school. I've never forgotten it. I would be called names, teased because of my appearance, I was once stabbed with a protractor in class, and I felt never had many true friends through my school life. The worst thing I felt was the exclusion by other kids. I had no one to sit with at lunchtime - I would sit with another boy who was bullied and isolated, or in the library alone.

Sometimes when I see highschool kids on the train or in the street, I feel intimidated and my mind casts back to the days highschool kids bullied me, even though I finished year 12, 10 years ago.

I have now formed good friendships with a few people from school. One of the best things to happen was a few years back when I sent a boy (who used to tease me with his group of friends) an article I wrote about my illness. He wrote back with the kindest words, apologising for how he treated me, and acknowledging my strength and personality. I valued that so much.

As for bullying in the workplace - it is so hard to address this if you are being bullied. Often people are too scared to do anything about it, so the bullying continues, or the person leaves the workplace, or in Brodie's case, takes their own life. There needs to be more built into the Workplace Relations Act to deal with bullies so it doesn't result in suicide.

One thing I don't understand is the rationale of counselors and mediators who have asked me how I could change MY behaviour to reduce the bullying.

This sort of counseling damaged my self worth just as much as the bullies. It made me question whether I had done something to encourage the bullying behaviour.

If you read this, and have treated someone badly, please stop and think about the impact it is having on that person.

Change your behaviour.

You don't have to like the person, but you shouldn't bully them.

If you see someone bullying another person, say something to stop them.

If you've bullied someone in the past, apologise to them. It will mean the world to them. Honestly.

It may just save their life.

Edit: This was in The Age today. Heartbreaking.

14 comments:

  1. When I was bullied in primary school, I was told by my own mother that it's my own fault. And teachers at school actually said that I could change to reduce the bullying as well. It was a horrible childhood and I am so glad I am out of that country now.

    One day when I am rich and powerful, I will gather all the bullies in one room, turn off the lights and introduce scary sounds and animals. Maybe then they will realise how wrong it is. I shouldn't scoop to their levels to retaliate but that's what I feel like doing sometime.

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  2. I think when bullying happens to you, it's so difficult to prove to others that it happening.

    How sad for you - thank goodness you are free from the bullying now. And so am I. But you never forget the experiences.

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  3. I was bullied too. For being too tall, too skinny and a migrant. I wouldn't change my appearance and background for the world now, but I did want to back then.

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  4. Thanks Brook.

    She Wore It Well - I know how you feel. I would never change myself now, but during school, I wanted to be 'normal', to have a circle of friends, and to be accepted. While my bullying was not in the same calibre of Brodie's, it certainly made an impact on me. Hope you are ok now.

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  5. Hey Carls, you know how I stopped Thomas Whale from whaling (*snort* pun intended) on me when we both got to St Paul's? Snotted the little bastard one when I'd finally had enough. Apparently THAT got through.
    Not advocating violence... #Justsayin

    *chuckle*.

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  6. I think when you stand up to people and it gets through to them, it is empowering.
    I've done it once, and I felt good.
    Though when I am assertive I feel like a bitch. It is a fine line.

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  7. I've been bullied before at school just because I was quiet and not confident and a good target. I've also felt a bit bullied at work. It is absolutely terrible to hear that someone was driven to suicide and the employers never did anything about what must have been very obvious bullying. In schools these days they don't simply expect those being bullied to change their behaviour, but they do try to increase self esteem of all class members and educate on bullying to prevent it happening in the first place. They also counsel bullies in the event that it happens as usually the bully wants to feel good about themself and that's why they do it. They often don't specifically want to be a bully or know that their behaviour is bullying. It is certainly not all about the way the bullied person behaves although I do think those who are targets do need help with increasing self esteem and confidence as that does change the way they deal with bullies and make them more likely to stand up for themselves.

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  8. Great post Carly, you're a strong woman.

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  9. Thanks Mez.

    RB - glad to know bullying is being addressed more seriously in schools now. I agree, self esteem and confidence needs to be built up, and the victim neeeds to be reassured that them standing up for them self won't result in punishment for them.
    Sorry to hear about your experiences :(

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  10. Fantastic post Carly,

    I couldn't believe when I read about that poor girl yesterday, I hope those mongrels get what they deserve!

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  11. Carly - I'm a long time lurker, first time poster.

    You have a great blog - your have a wonderful voice in your writing and your personality, humour and intelligence shines through.

    I'm sorry to hear about your experiences. It seems some people in life carry a heavier burden for a time, but I wish you all the joy there is in life.

    Keep up the writing please - I enjoy reading your blog very much!

    :)

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  12. Anita - thanks for the compliment.
    Those mongrels only have a monetary fine. Hopefully on their wages, it takes them many years of hardship. They never apologised to her.

    Anonymous - thanks for lurking and now posting.
    And thanks for the wishes. Things are good now, for me.

    I really hope I've made some sort of difference for those being bullied through writing this.

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  13. This is sad. There is a company that has been taking workplace bullying head on - http://eBossWatch.com. They can tweet for you as well @ebosswatch

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