I'm willing to guarantee that pretty much everyone over the age of ten has either witnessed bullying, been bullied, or has bullied others. So the subject of this post concerns everyone, children and adults alike.
Bullying is an especially hot topic these days, because news has been made of a few teens who have committed suicide due to bullying of a homophobic nature.
Eighteen year old Tyler Clementi was a talented violin player and a student at Rutgers University. After his roommate Dharun Ravi videostreamed Tyler online while he was being intimate with another man, Tyler was in tremendous despair. On September 22nd, Tyler jumped off the George Washington Bridge, to his death.
Thirteen year old Asher Brown was harassed about his religion and sexual orientation by his classmates. On September 23rd, Asher shot himself with his stepfather's gun.
Seth Walsh was only eleven years old. He was also harassed about his perceived sexual orientation by his classmates. He was found unconscious in his own backyard, another apparent suicide. He died after ten days on life support.
Fifteen year old Billy Lucas received homophobic harassment by the other kids at school. Billy hung himself on September 9th.
Fifteen year old Justin Aaberg was a talented cello player who came out of the closet at age thirteen. He also hung himself.
Nineteen year old Raymond Chase attended Johnson & Wales University. He was openly gay, and he hung himself in his dorm room last week.
These homophobia related suicides touched Ellen DeGeneres' heart, and she candidly spoke about them on her talk show on September 30th.
I was also violently bullied as a child. I'm heterosexual, and no one ever thought I was gay, but people who know about bullying know that bullies target people who are different, period. I was bullied for my eccentricity and awkward social skills. I wasn't diagnosed with Asperger's Syndrome until I was nineteen, and years of bullying and enduring a public school system that couldn't understand me made me drop out as soon as it was legal, at age sixteen.
There were certainly times I felt like committing suicide, much like those teenagers mentioned in my post who committed suicide due to homophobia.
My experience with bullying started when I was nine years old, in Grade Four at Munden Park Public School, in Mississauga, Ontario, Canada. Teachers and lunchtime supervisors would tell me, "Just ignore them, Kim, they're only teasing!" From age nine, until I dropped out at age sixteen while attending Meadowvale Secondary in Mississauga, I was constantly bullied in various ways.
I was constantly insulted. I was ostracized by all the other kids in my class, ALL of them. I was kicked. I was punched. I had my possessions stolen and vandalized.
The teachers, supervisors, and school administration always ignored the issue. "Kids will be kids!" Arrrgghh! That attitude makes me so angry.
Like gay kids, or kids who are suspected of being gay, autistic kids, whether diagnosed or undiagnosed are also subject to bullying a lot more than other kids.
From Michael McGrath's article, Aspergers Syndrome and Bullying, http://www.suite101.com/content/aspergers-syndrome-and-bullying-a66366:
In my experience, though, schools don't take bullying seriously at all. It's a crying shame.
Children with Asperger’s syndrome are ideal targets for bullying. Asperger’s children tend to be socially isolated and awkward in conversations and physical coordination. An Aspie child often has interests that other children consider odd, or may have unusual verbal or physical habits. Most rewarding, from a bully’s perspective, is how easily many Asperger’s children “meltdown” and lose control when under pressure.Approximately 90 percent of Asperger’s children are bullied – some sources suggest the number is closer to 100 percent. Adults with Asperger’s syndrome often relate how helpless, angry and alone schoolyard bullying made them feel, and how the effects of bullying followed them into their adult lives.
And, not only kids are bullied. Adults are often subject to bullying as well.
Adult bullying takes place at the park, in parent committees and kids’ sporting events; among people in volunteer and peer groups; and even in families. Examples of outright physical bullying among adults include Stewart Ferguson of Pakenham, Ont., near Ottawa, who was sentenced in 2005 to 18 months probation for shoving a referee into a door frame after his son was thrown out of a minor league hockey game. But more often adult bullying is emotional.
The Canada Safety Council defines adult bullying as a “grab for control by an insecure, inadequate person, an exercise of power through the humiliation of the target.” It involves humiliation or abusive words that lower a person’s self-esteem. It can take the form of rude, degrading or offensive remarks; intimidating gestures; or discrediting a person by spreading rumours, ridiculing her or calling into question her convictions and private life. It can also be about belittling a person by making her do tasks below her skill level.
According to the International Labour Organization, physical and emotional violence is one of the most serious issues facing the workplace today because the psychological wounds can run deep. The Commission des normes du travail, which enforces labour standards in Quebec, has conducted surveys that show up to one in 10 workers in that province have been the subject of harmful bullying, intimidation or belittlement by a boss or coworker.
There is a solution to combating bullying. And all of us must take part in order for the campaign to be effective.
- Schools, for young children and adults alike, must have strong and detailed anti-bullying policies. And they must be enforced by all authority figures. Adult workplaces need the same.
- If you observe bullying, and you did nothing about it, you are not an innocent bystander. You are a guilty party, as well. I can't count how many times I was viciously bullied while other kids just watched and did nothing. The same applies to adult bullying, too. If you witness bullying, tell the bully to stop! Or, at the very least, tell an authority figure about it. The bully may possibly be breaking the law as well, so teen and adult bullies may be charged with a crime by the police. In those situations, make sure the police are involved.
Ellen DeGeneres has recently popularized the use of the #StopBullying hashtag on Twitter. I posted a few #StopBullying tweets last night, and I got a quick response from musicismylifee1.
- Bullying and Asperger's Syndrome
This weekend of October 9th and 10th, I've got a real treat for computer nerds and newbies alike. I'll be debuting my A Brief History of The Web series, which promises to be fun and informative. Surely you wonder how the web started, and how we got to the web we have today?
On Monday, October 11th, possibly in the evening, I'll start the conclusion to my Project HTML5 series. The last two articles will be about CSS3.