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Tuesday, April 7, 2015

We Need To Talk About Bullying (Part IV)

It must be extremely difficult being a teenager today, I am sure no matter how hard I try I really can not imagine the true extent of what young people today have to go through. Today I am talking about bullying again, because it is a topic that needs to be spoken about as much as we can because bullying isn't declining but thanks to developments in technology and social trends it is going out of control and out of proportion. We live in an age and era where offline bullying is now accompanied by digital bullying which makes things a lot worse than they already are.

Some weeks ago, it was early in the morning and I had switched on SBS in my Melbourne hotel room. SBS Australia is one of the few free to air TV Channels alongside 7, channel 9 and the ten network. They were running a program on how bullying in the digital age is effecting children particularly teenagers leading to an academic, social and emotional down fall of the next generation of young people walking towards adulthood. According the documentary the attention towards the impact of digital bullying was first noticed in many high schools with a decline not just in grade work of young students but also a significant decline in their push towards physical fitness and athletic agility. Having personally lived in Australia for 4 years I personally know the importance on good physical health, fitness and a good active life style put forward by most Australians. This is also reflected upon the agility and competitive mindset of their athletes and sports persons. In Olympics Australians always feature in the ten best performing nations in terms of medal counts, while in other sports such as Rugby and Cricket, their a force to be reckoned with.

The documentary that I was fortunate to see was set in urban Queensland, where PE or Physical Education teachers or instructors noticed a decline in confidence and a drop in motivation for being competitive towards physical activities such as sports and fitness during the school hours. Upon investigation it turned out that students who were terrified off showing their potential or making daring efforts to exert themselves in physical challenges had become conscious of themselves, their bodies, their physical appearances as a result of not just real time bullying, but a lot of digital and cyber bullying that they had to be subject to. Aggressive comments like 'O Shes a Fat Cow' or 'He is a Fat Pig' or 'He/She is a midget' were being labeled at them by their peers, and thanks to the power of social media, they had been going viral and had played a great role in shaping opinions of others who otherwise wouldn't have had any. Long gone are the days, when the bully was out of your face, you did not have to think about the bully or attempts of bullying, now considering everyone as a smart phone and easy access to social media, it seems their is no escape. Young people today are always subjected to bullying. With limits to how to manage what goes on in the world of social media, it will become even harder and harder for parents as well as teenagers to manage circumstances.

Realistically bullying could never be prevented, bullies have existed since the dawn of civilization, technology has just presented everyone with a whole set of new challenges no one ever expected. One thing that can be done is to create awareness among people as how to identify bullying when it happens and what to do in what circumstances should they be on the receiving end of bullying or on the spectator end. Part of the problem lies with people's apathy, this I was witness to when I was in school, and I witness this in the lives of young people today, its the apathy of by standers, witnesses, who not only fail to even blink an eye when they see some one being subjected to bullying, but often at times, they take the side of the aggressor and entertain the idea that maybe the victim of bullying is some one who actually deserves the treatment thrown towards them. We see it as a natural course, a natural order, we see the aggressor from the vantage of a first mover, the first mover is well within his or her right to act and must be acting right, we seem to automatically dismiss alternatives. The dismissal of alternatives comes down to our inability to feel empathy for other human beings, realistically it is impossible to feel absolute empathy for another or be absolutely sensitive as to feel for the other person, but it is totally worse on a whole different level we see the victim of aggression as a lesser being than the bully or the aggressor. It is no different from how we look down upon victims of abuse, back of our mind we want to be impartial, so we end up making things worse by giving even some benefit of the doubt to the aggressor. There can be no 2 ways about it, an aggressor is an aggressor, some one who makes the must move must be in the spot light.

When was the last time so many of us actually took a stand for some one getting beaten, harassed, socially ostracized or character assassinated because of one or just a handful of people. Standing up is far fetched, I haven't even seen people show compassion for the person getting bullied, even compassion is far fetched, I have seen people believe the image of the victim as portrayed by the bully as some one who deserves it. Just some food for thought for everyone, considering we live in a digital era, next time any of us is witness to digital or cyber or social media bullying, we should entertain the idea that okay maybe this is not right, and maybe the bully is wrong and not their victims.

Just Food for Thought. 

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