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What is a bully? Who is a bully? And why do people bully? The nature of bullying knows no bounds. Like a virus, it can infiltrate the psyche of any circle, whether it be within a schooling environment, a work setting, or even waft its stink into a friendship group. The stereotypical make up of a bully is normally assigned a masculine gender. A big boy named biff who provides wedgies, to the class nerdy weakling when in the dinner hall, or Simon the bully who throws his weight round in the office and belittles other members of the work force. In a recent governmental study, it was revealed that 1 in 6 young people reported experiences of bullying (Dept of education 2013- 2018). This report also found that certain groups of children were more likely to receive such treatment. Those receiving additional help in the classroom, those with long term disability and those living in the most deprived areas to name a few. However, I fear these governmental guidelines fail to address the more subtle, and arguably more detrimental aspects of bullying. I also fear that the blurry lines of victim and bully tends to get lost when discussions of bullying arise. Drawing from personal experiences, my school was a no different to most comprehensive secondary schools in the noughties. It was the only school in the town, a Sussex town, which drew students from all of the surrounding villages and neighbourhoods. Both boys and girls attended, and struggled with the common social issues, which were a reflection in wider society at the time. Sexuality, poverty, addiction. It is my experiences that … In my year, we had the standard go to girl who was openly used as a physical and verbal punching bag… Ally Pod. She was the girl who everybody (including the teachers) came to accept that that was her fate. People rarely stepped in to protect her vulnerability. To my knowledge, there was no anti bullying policy which offered her any kind of guaranteed protection. From my perspective, her mother (Ally came from a single parent family), failed to protect her in any constructive fashion. So poor Ally just dealt with it. But surely, into today’s liberal world governed by school policies and anti-bullying rhetoric enshrined into everyday popular culture and even law, this type of daily torture is coming to an end, right? The answer is no, Bullying now takes on a new identity. As well as traditional methods of bullying which manifests in physical attack and the art of making somebody feel small, there is now the good old internet which helps to provide the nonstop drip of misery onto the most vulnerable and in most cases least deserving. This new aspect of bullying has not replaced old techniques but has simply added on and an alternative method. Such an evolutionary development suggests that maybe the act of bullying could actually be in our genes. Journalist Johnathan Kay from the National Post argues that exact perspective by stating that bullying is devastating, both short term and long term, and can lead to long term health complications and in some sad cases of fatal suicide. However, Kay also states that methods to tackle bullying must reflect its genetic affiliation, arguing that bullying is simply used as a strategy in both males and females to increase attractiveness and social status. The coloration between bullying and dominance is of course obvious. And it is biologically accepted that masculine dominance is an attractive quality to members of the opposite sex. As far as female bullies are concerned, Kay argues that bullying is associated social popularity and peer leadership… manifesting into social capital. As much as I do find truth in these arguments, I can’t help but feel that the act of bullying is more complex than this. It’s a combination of personal vulnerability, personal hardships and complicated life experiences. From my perspective, happy people don’t bully. This complicated overlapping of victim hood makes it very difficult to address bullying at the root. I’m afraid I don’t have the answers folks, I am just hopeful that, in the future, more attention will be placed on victim support. Those kids who are abused physically at home, or who don’t fit in to the high standards of beauty or coolness that popular culture demands. The knock-on effect of attention to these vulnerable kids could hopefully prevent the evolution of unhappy bully adults in the home, workplace, or even behind the keyboard. Let me know what you think

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