Tuesday, June 17, 2008

RM colum April 24 - Bullying

Just going to post up some columns, I'm somewhat behind.

RM column April 24 - Bullying

An OECD survey which is the largest ever conducted in Ireland and researching students’ performance in particular subjects uncovered a staggering 43 per cent of 15 year olds who said they were bullied during the school term in which the survey was carried out.

The bullying part of the survey was not the main leaning as to why the survey was carried out but obviously stood out as something very important that needs to be attended too immediately.
Most parents will be very concerned by these findings and despite the high profile campaigns around bullying the problem seems to be getting worse.

The Young Wan has had her own experiences of this with ex-friends who mounted a vicious and constant attack on her through her bebo pages and on the phone. One of the things that struck me about it at the time was the complete and utter ferocious cruelty in their actions.

Fair enough that they didn’t want to be friends with her anymore, they are teenagers and will drift in and out of friendships but their behaviour around it was just plain wicked.

Personally I was quite happy the friendship was gone with this gang. While I witnessed some of their behaviour I was completely thrown when they constantly rang our house with nonsense messages. We both laughed at most of them until I heard one that made me stop in my tracks. This particular message said that they hoped she died.

The Young Wan was getting more and more upset and I wouldn't let her answer the phone. While she was trying to be brave and handle it herself, thats my job. At the very least she watched me deal with the calls and at various points she even managed to laugh out loud at my side of the conversation. I felt this was important, that somehow I was taking the power those horrible kids had over her and helping her cope with it.

I found it startlingly that they didn’t care that they talked to me, instead they put on dopey Belfast accents trying to imitate me as brazen as you like. They knew I knew who they were so my tact at the end was to keep them on the phone to waste their credit while saying nothing. No point in adding oxygen to their bullying fire.

For the day or so during the climax of their relentless bullying campaign the Young Wan walked around the house holding her tummy complaining of stomach pains. She was dreadfully unhappy and I loathed seeing my normally happy and bubbly daughter like that. Were all these incidents related, you bet they were.

As they were not friends/ex-friends from school, I couldn’t go through the school but I did approach the parents of one of them who were wonderful and supportive and talked to their child. It didn’t stop completely at that moment but petered out over the following days and by that stage herself was less affected by it. Since then the ringleader has apologised and wanted to be friends again. Thankfully the Young Wan has more sense and while accepting of his apology she now knows the cut of their gib as they say and won’t be going there again.

Do I think those lads wanted something bad to happen to herself? Mostly I don’t, but if anything had happened to her, I would have bayed for their blood and would have probably had to be restrained from killing them myself; I saw the effects in the Young Wan to their behaviour and would have happily kicked them up and down the road.

There seems to be a bit of a mob-mentality about it all and little empathy. That’s one thing that I hope I have instilled in herself; being considerate of other people. She may be my princess but I want her to treat people with the respect they deserve.

I think it is very easy to bully now. We have seen how people react on the internet, in fact there is a wonderful cartoon explaining just how over the top people behave, which you can see by going to this link.

While the cartoon is humorously done, the message is the same people lose all sense of manners and decorum on the internet and I would not be surprised if some/a lot of the bullying has been carried out on bebo and by texting. It is easy for messages in these mediums to read worse than intended or easily misconstrued, it is also easy to lose the run of yourself and possibly overreact and become aggressive in ways you wouldn’t in real life.

Now it is time for more to be done to tackle this problem, children are suffering, their education is suffering and in many cases the mental (and physical) scars will remain with them throughout adulthood.

Offenders need to realise the impact of their actions and more must be done to penalise those behaving in this way. Schools must be given the right tools to deal with it, it is clear from this survey that despite everything that is happening in schools to tackle bullying it is clearly not enough.


Darren said...

A subject close to my heart. I have nothing but sympathy for the victims of such cruelties.

Darragh said...

A brilliant post RM. Thanks for sharing. Like Darren, my heart goes out to your daughter.

If it's any consolation, the one thing I've always learned is what goes around comes around.

Red Mum said...

@Darren thanks for the comment, I tried to comment on yours but kept having problems. I will come back to it.

@Darragh yep I think it does.

Darren said...

No need. I just appreciate you reading it. I can't believe the response I've had to it and I owe you thanks for the inspiration. (Sure, I'll owe you a pint too)