Something Has Got To Give…Monday October 17, 2011 - Author: NightStorm - No Comments
What the Hell is wrong with the World? When I went to school, “bullies” were a dime a dozen… some kid always wanted to try to look tougher than he actually was, by pushing around the small kid. Nothing makes you look like more of a man than picking on a defenceless kid who is just trying to go from day to day the best way they know how, huh?
On Saturday in Ontario, an extremely talented young man killed himself. He could skate, he could sing, he could act, he had friends and a family that loved him. He also had kids around him who were verbally abusive towards him constantly. Why? Because they thought that his being gay was reason enough for him to be a target of verbal bullying. Will the kids who called him a “fag” feel guilty for their part in his life coming to a sudden end? Likely not, they will try to appease their consciences by saying that it was the medication he was on, or he just wasn’t right in the head. The reality though, is that even when thinking the phrase “sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me”, those words do actually hurt. It is in human nature to want to belong. Most don’t give a second thought to the idea that pushing these people away with hurtful insults and name-calling can cause long-term lasting damage, but the truth is that it can and does. The story I reference above about Jamie Hubley is proof of that. He kept an online journal of his final month, if further evidence is needed. Even a simple Google search for the words “bully suicide” returns over twenty million results.
Friends of Tami are going through another horrifying case of bullying. Their son has been the target of bullies for some time now, both verbally and physically. Recently the father caught sight of one of the bullies on top of his son in his own front yard. Being the loving father figure he is, he approached the group and removed the bully from his son. He never once hit the bully (something I myself would not be able to say if I were in that position), and for coming to the defence of his son he was charged with assault. Really. Assault, for removing a bully off his own son on his own property. they are now facing escalating legal bills, losing their home, and having to pack up everything they own and leaving the city they live in. Why? Because the courts have decided that they are not there to defend the victim anymore, but instead to come to the defence of the bully. This is why bullies now know it’s okay that they do what they do, because there is no risk of repercussions for their actions. That falls back on the victim.
A truly heartbreaking story is that of 11 year old Mitchell Wilson, from Pickering, Ontario. 2 years after losing his mother to skin cancer, he was diagnosed with a debilitating disease called muscular dystrophy. That was a year ago. 10 months ago, he was robbed by a 12 year old, all for an iPhone he had borrowed from his father. During the robbery, Mitchell was severely beaten by the unnamed young offender, who was too small due to his disease to defend himself or even run away. While the attacker was removed from school and charged, the bullying continued. Mitchell lived in constant fear of running into the bully, to the point that he told his grandmother that he would kill himself if he had to return to school in September. Early last month he received a subpoena to testify against the alleged young attacker, which would require facing the bully and thief again. The next morning, Mitchell found his son lying in bed with a plastic bag pulled over his head. This little man had been pushed to the point that he thought the only way to escape the torment that the bullies had put him through was to escape life completely.
The actions of the bully (of any bully) affect more than just the person they are targeting. It has widespread and lasting effect. Does the bully care? Obviously not at the time, or else they would grow up and not actually be a bully. The problem is that it’s often years before they realize the hurt they brought to others… quite often, that’s years too late. On the radio yesterday, they were talking to one man who, as a child, was a victim of bullying… then later in his teen years, a bully himself. He had found one person in particular to be the target of his abuse, often verbally insulting him, teasing him, taking his favourite things and taunting him with them… it sounds like the only thing he did not actually do was physically assault the boy. One day he took the boys favourite hat, teasing him with it prior to throwing it on the ground and stomping on it. Most would not see this as having lasting damage… it’s just a hat, after all. That night, the boy, whose heart was not strong enough to keep going, gave up. Doctors determined that it was his medical condition that led to the heart failure, but the bully to this day blames himself for causing it.
Some people are starting to take a stand against bullying. OptimizedApps have developed a small application for smartphones called “Bully Button” (http://www.optimizedapps.com/bully-button.html). A simple program, someone under threat simply presses a large button on their smartphone to instantly begin recording all nearby audio… it’s also possible to have it take pictures, if your phone supports it. it also has “quick dial” buttons to allow for instant access to your parents… think of it as calling for help for the 21st century. http://www.bullyingcanada.ca is another helpful site, bringing together various stories about bullying across the country, survivor stories, resources, and links to receive assistance to escape the bullying if you are a victim.
Helping the victim to defend themselves is a great start, but it’s certainly not enough. Bullying needs to stop at the source. If you see it taking place, step up and stop it. 99% of the time, all it takes is verbal confrontation… and that 1%, two people standing up are better than one. In order for this World to be “Bully-proof”, people need to stop walking past and pretending they do not see what is happening. Show your support. Join one of the many anti-bullying campaigns out there. Voice your support to your peers. Share your stories. Stand up for those who can’t stand up for themselves. Putting an end to bullying has to start somewhere. Why not let it start with you?