Thursday, September 29, 2011

Thinking Out Loud

There has been a lot of talk and media attention lately about bullying and it appears that most of it starts at school and continues on-line.

I did not experience bullying as a child. I kept my feelings to myself and was mindful of how I acted. I learned to fit in with the rest of the guys at the all-boys Catholic school I attended from primary to grade 12, all the while knowing that I was different from most of the boys in school.

However, I did experience it face-to-face as a teacher.......not as a witness but as a recipient.

For about four years while at a high school, I, along with a few other teachers, were pushed and bullied into leaving that school.

It was not because I was gay but because I thought 'outside the box' on a few things with which the administration couldn't cope. It was the same with the other teachers. Guess we were a real, or imagined, threat.

Funny thing, until this particular administration came to the school everything went very smoothly with two other administrations. 

It was the way in which our experience at the school  was turned into a nightmare by these people. All three were bullies, taking the lead from the head bully.

We were all adults and writing this now, some 13 years after I left the school, I can hardly believe that it could happen to anyone in our positions.

I truly feel that bullying is a systemic problem in our schools/society, one that is so entrenched that most don't notice it at all. It is accepted as the norm. And when one gets the occasional 'boss' taking the lead and getting away with it, one is left confused, discouraged, angry and stripped of any self-worth.

In my particular case I told the 'people downtown' that if I were to return to this particular school in the fall that I would go on sick leave indefinitely. They asked why and I told them the whole story.

Guess what? They were not surprised as they had a file filled to overflowing on this 'boss'. A lot of good that was to all the teachers that were bullied by this individual over the years.

Luckily for me I got a job for the next 11 years that enabled me to rebuild the lost self-esteem that was bullied out of me. I could list the things that I faced on a daily basis but not right now. 

Suffice it to say that when I hear about kids being bullied, particularly in school ,my heart goes out to them and I hope that they have someone that will see this happening and take the steps necessary to stop it.

The same is true with adults who are being bullied on a daily basis at the workplace. Who do they have to turn to? Will they lose their jobs? Maybe. If they are lucky like I was they will be able to move to another position away from the bully.

What's the solution? Well, I believe we all have to be part of the solution. We should not tolerate it anywhere.....even if we do not know the ones being bullied. Responsible adults could make the difference by 'stepping up' and taking a stand on this issue. And hopefully this persistent fixture in our society will disappear. 

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