Bullying and cyber bullying are two major problems that young teens and even adults face and unfortunately it has reared its ugly head this week.
I have received a letter and separate phone call in the last week reporting alleged incidents of bullying. Those claims, unless part of a widespread problem as a particular school, are not for these pages. But rest assured the schools in question were contacted, the allegations passed on and reassurances given over both.
I think most people would say they have been bullied or at least picked on at some stage of their lives.
But there is a very distinct line which separates teasing or ‘banter’ as it is referred to nowadays and actual targeted bullying. Poking fun at someone’s mum (when the child doesn’t even know the victim’s mum) is cruel but could be considered all part of growing up and developing the thick skin that will inevitably be needed later in life. Serious targeted bullying, physical and mental, though is a cancer that we must continue to strive to cut out of our society. It is down to us as parents, teachers and community leaders to have a zero tolerance policy on bullying. Like it or not, young vulnerable people are committing suicide every year because of bullying. I hope and am sure staff at Dacorum’s schools would and do act swiftly to deal with any such issues.
I myself suffered a prolonged period of what I would call proper bullying at secondary school. It started as making fun of my coat believe it or not by the biggest kid in our year. It quickly got more personal, making fun of my big ears (don’t laugh), how skinny I was, then turned physical, smacking me around the head as I walked past, tripping me over, headlocks, random punches and so on. It became relentless and everyday all I could think about was where I could go to avoid them, where should I walk to make sure we didn’t cross paths? But I didn’t tell my mum or dad because I was naively too proud. Didn’t tell the teacher for fear it would make things worse. Both of these were the wrong decisions, in hindsight I should have told both the teachers and my parents. In the end I stood up for myself and eventually the bully moved on to someone else, but he shouldn’t have been allowed to. To me the answer would be to immediately get the police involved. I honestly believe this would put a stop to 80% of the problems as most bullies are essentially cowards and would soon think twice about doing it again.
I don’t think we will ever fully eradicate the problem but I think the least we should expect is a hardline attitude and response from fellow parents and schools if they suspect or are informed of bullying to nip things in the bud before they develop and get out of control.