My twelve year-old son recently had his first day of high school. Instead of being an exciting next step, it was the most challenging day of his life. That night we sat for nearly two hours talking about his day, trying to make some sense of this new world that he now has to visit everyday for the next six years.
As a parent, I want my child to be excited about learning and in certain respects he is, but sadly, he also has to battle against the pressures that obstruct his right to attend school, make friends and learn in a safe environment.
You see; my son has to cope with bullying. The actions of another child have robbed him of many happy childhood times, dented his self-confidence and affected his health. Bullying is destructive, cowardly and loathsome. It is a weapon used by those lacking in kindness, respect and honesty.
With the support of his family, friends and teachers, my son will survive the first few weeks at his new school, he will emerge a stronger person and people will respect him and be impressed by his maturity. He’s a child, and this shouldn’t happen to him, but it happens to many children and in the past it may even have happened to you.
Children who bully, no doubt, turn into adults who also bully. Of that, I am sure. The Internet, for instance, is full of bullies. They thrive on the anonymity that it brings, hiding behind pseudonyms, leaving destructive comments on blogs like ticking time-bombs, writing scathing reviews of books for no apparent reason and vindictively hounding fellow writers who are honest and talented.
Do bullies get a kick from the poison that they spread? Is it jealousy that drives them to damage reputations through their lying and cheating? A friend of mine, a highly talented writer, recently experienced bullying on the Goodreads website. His book was recommended by a third party to a Goodreads member who took umbrage at this unsolicited recommendation and left a highly defamatory comment on his author’s page accusing him of spamming.
Being a very decent chap, he explained that he had nothing to do with the recommendation but instead of reaching a mutual understanding, the nasty comments increased, not only from the member in question but also from their followers. I jumped into the fray to defend my innocent friend but was instantly described as a ‘troll’. Very flattering I’m sure.
The comments are vitriolic and sadly cannot be removed. Freedom of speech or bulling? You decide. I will continue to teach my son the values of being a thoughtful, kind human, who understands the meaning of respect. Should bullies be hounded from our digital lives? Should they be unmasked? What do you think?