October 16, 2012

Anti Bully or Self Resilience?

This is great, but will it actually
result in change? Like all "wars on
this and that"...I highly doubt it.
Lately, you have probably read more and more stories of bullying at school and in the workplace. Last week, another victim of bullying made headlines as she chronicled her story of torment on YouTube and promptly completed a suicide due to the chronic bullying she had endured at her school.

If I were without critical thinking skills, I would be believing that bullying has become more and more prevalent (and definitely more dangerous) than ever before. But has it really? What are the differences between the bullying of the past and that of the present? Why would bullying be so mainstream when we have embraced individual differences, assertive communication, and definitely awareness to the cause?

I have to admit, I was only bullied only once in my youth (I was never really picked on in school). Her name, interestingly enough, was Kathy and because of some crap disturber friend of hers telling her I called her fat (which wasn't the case, in those days I never really thought of body size) she was after me all summer. Her threat of beating the crap out of me followed me around for three months until finally, when I inevitably met up with her at the end of the summer, I just gave in and said..."go ahead, take your best shot". After that, and no black eye, she left me alone. Go figure.

Those were the days without the Internet. We didn't even have CDs. Facebook or twitter or texting was something out of a Star Trek episode. The bullies were tough and scary, however. They meant business and would pound the crap out of you ...just like today. Parents told us to suck it up or fight back and the teachers could not have cared less. Today, parents and teachers are aware of this public health concern (even if some decide to turn their backs on it). We are told to turn the other cheek or just say no to bullying...but is this providing a disservice to the kids today?

In response to the latest suicide by bullying, the politicians are now considering policy (after many campaigns) to end bullying. But will we ever end bullying? In a society that is growing more depressed and angry with the gap between the middle and upper classes growing, it's only going to get worse in my hunble opinion. So how can we protect the targets? We can't. What we can do is focus on resiliency and assertive communication....and let's face it, sometimes just standing up for one's self and looking the bully in the eyes is all you need. 

Do we talk about resiliency in the schools? Do parents even know, themselves, what it is? For one to be resilient, one must posses the following (in a nutshell)...

1. Positive beliefs and attitudes: this may include beliefs in ones abilities, beliefs that everything happens for a reason, a positive disposition, positive attitudes or higher level of self efficacy.

2. A perception of control: this is most important for health and stress management. It is important for us to feel like we have control over our lives; we call the shots and aren't under the control of others.

3. Resources: community-based and personal social connectedness (along with getting enough sleep, eating well, and exercising) will help us deal with the stresses of every day life (and the other stuff).

For youth to be resilient, confidence in ones self, a perception of control, and enough resources to feel supported (and not alone) are needed. I do believe it takes a community and isn't the responsibility of just the teachers or parents. BUT it is necessary for teachers, parents, aunts, uncles, and next door neighbours (a.k.a our society) to become more aware of resiliency; enough to instill it in our children. AND...to ask the question "are you alright" when you even think someone appears off. This is could be the difference between life and death.

No joke.


  1. You have not posted accurately about the young girls torture or when she ended her life. It was not promptly after the video. The video was done to educate and share her pain, out loud. Cyber bullying was just as much a part of her story as the pictures followed her everywhere. She was being treated for it but it became to much over time. Kids cannot close their doors and leave the bullies outside anymore.

    The city program is aimed at education and awareness. They are trying to build a community of people who will provide safe environments and stop making it acceptable to turn a blind eye. Bullying is not what it used to be and don't assume that people had resillient skills long ago to deal with it. I have people in my practice, as adults, who still indirectly suffer the effects.

  2. Dear Anonymous;

    Thanks for taking the time to post.

    As far as my accuracy is concerned, I did not intend to use this girl's story to make a big point, therefore, I didn't go into depth about her. My statements are accurate, just not detailed.

    That is great that your community is trying to build a social safety net of people that will provide safe environments. It is my belief (and I will add the belief of psycho-social professionals) that no society is free of people who enjoy hurting others and causing harm. Therefore, building a community of support is a great idea, but you also need to build resiliency.

    No where in my post did I assume that people of the past had resiliency skills. My point was pretty clear; we need to focus on resiliency skills training....period.

    Why I appreciate the time you have taken to post, I don't appreciate your accusations and assumptions. We all read what we want to read. I suggest you take some time to examine your own beliefs and assumptions around the topic before anonymously commenting on facts that aren't represented above.

    Sorry...it could be my mood, but I'm pretty much done with the lack of assertive communication. I guess I should accept that is what you get on the internet.

    My bad.