Lots of articles, stories and links have been coming up on my Facebook news feed about bullying in different case scenarios which has got me thinking about my own experiences with this new age ‘deadly sin.’ The old phrase we used to say in the play ground doesn’t quite cut it in this day and age – ‘sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.’ It goes way beyond the teasing we used to get at school. The Internet, smartphones and the like make bullying much easier through Facebook, email, Twitter, snapchat, Instagram etc. Bullying has transformed from being delivered in a physical way towards a more mental insult. The ramifications of cyber bullying is more likely to lead to depression, self harm or for people to question self worth which are some of the leading health issues among young people at the moment.
I suppose I was taught about bullying at school when I was young but the subject came more under the topic of ‘do unto others as you would have them do unto you.’ I’m sure I can’t remember it as being as scary as it is today. I may have got teased for my choice of say a lunch at school that wasn’t everyone’s taste or the way I played hand-ball (my lack of eye/hand coordination) but must have been able to shrug the feelings of embarrassment and disappointment off by having had a positive upbringing in a loving family who helped guide my current morals and values in life. I survived my childhood and grew a bit of thick skin to the occasional tease.
Nursing, my first passion of a career I so desperately wanted and succeeded in following, is one profession known for bullying. Many have experienced acts of ‘horizontal violence’ from colleagues often driven by leadership hierarchy. I didn’t escape this either. I was humiliated at my workplace as I was pinned up again the wall in the corridor of the hospital in full view of everyone by a person in a superior position for speaking up in defence of myself, I was only telling my opinion and the truth as it was. As a mature aged student I changed my career from nursing to early childhood education. During my studying years at university completing my degree in early childhood education I was intrigued and saddened that this profession too had a statistical story to tell as well. I read a really interesting article by Louise Hard, a senior lecturer teaching leadership and management and wellness and wellbeing at the university I was studying at. She introduced her students to the ‘crab bucket mentality’ in a workplace environment, particularly early childhood. If a new person came into the centre with bright eyes and fresh ideas and shared their desires of change the ‘crab bucket mentality’ would come into action. Have you ever been crabbing down the beach searching under rocks for crabs and placing them in a bucket? Ever noticed that if one crab worked it’s way to the top to escape the others would pull it back into the bucket. That one new person in their new environment full of new and exciting ideas is that crab trying to reach for the top of the bucket. The crabs pulling them down are the colleagues who are resentful of change or think they need to knock them down a peg or two. These types of bullying experiences can make you stronger in character depending how you face them. I am very fortunate that I work with a brilliant team of individuals who bring out the best in me.
I was fortunate enough to be aware of my children being bullied and I’m forever grateful for our relationship in which they came to me for advice and guidance when they were hurting. I’m very proud that they turned out to be very fine well adjusted young adults. I hope some of my beliefs, morals and values have been passed down to them and they can share them with their own children. Wouldn’t it be a nicer place in the world without bullying! I work with our future generations in early childhood education so I’ve got an important role to help shape the minds of the young to develop the social skills to prevent and stop bullying. I will continue to take advantage of teachable moments. I will teach the children respect and empathy and set a good example and be a positive role model. Isn’t that what all parents want to teach their children?
Jacob was proud to be part of the Wollongong Diocese ‘Fix You’ anti-bullying video production that was filmed at his high school. The video is an anti-bullying learning and teaching resource to provide information and strategies for teachers. Jacob’s dream of becoming a cinematographer was a little bit more palpable for him by giving him the opportunity of being in the video. For the cinemaphotographer behind this production was the very person that took Jacob under his wing as his personal apprentice on many jobs which further ignited his passion. Jacob in fact bought this very talented man’s camera. The one that Jacob used in his own films on his YouTube channels and the one I’m using in his absence – capturing the world through his eyes through the lens of his camera, keeping us connected in the hope he sees what I see. I am very proud he will be still helping others without physically being on earth anymore because of this video, doing his bit to make it a better world to live in. As I watch the video tonight I will pause it on his beautiful face with his afro hair and cheeky grin and say ‘I wish I could have fixed you’ (by taking away the cancer).