Quite a few people don’t understand bullying. They are not fully aware of the long and short term consequences of this kind of abuse. Sadly, they think it is pretty much just a part of life and everyone will have to endure it while growing up. To them, a person has to learn how to handle it and things will get better as time goes on. There is just one problem with that line of thinking: things don’t get better and actually get much worse. I know this because I have had to deal with bullying all my life.
I was teased unmercifully as a child because I was different from all the other kids. The verbal slaps turned into physical ones, and I was beaten up more than once by the playground bully. The trouble stayed with me as I learned to deal with my sexual orientation. Being gay as a teenager in Houston was one bad day after another. The bullying did not stop when I became an adult.
Despite my employer having a policy against intimidation and harassment, my supervisors were actually ring leaders in the emotional harassment I had to endure. I did nothing wrong, disobeyed no instructions, and followed every agency policy. My being gay was the reason why coworkers took verbal potshots at me. As I mentioned in the documentary on my life struggle, The Jumper Maybach Story, I was forced to retool my career. All of this because some people thought it was okay to make fun of my being a little bit different.
Victims are often Children
Kids bear the brunt of a lot of bullying. The statistics are alarming as well as revealing:
· more than 3.2 million students are bullied every year, because of this;
· close to 160,000 teenagers will skip school daily in order to avoid the harassment;
Bullying is not a healthy part of growing up and yet in spite of these figures, approximately 25% of all teachers see nothing wrong with bullying, and boys will feel less sympathy for the victim as they get older. Studies have shown that victims are more likely to experience headaches, bedwetting, and other psychosomatic symptoms. The anxiety and depression experienced in childhood continue long into adult years. I can remember feeling suicidal more than once as I got older. I’m certain other victims have felt the same way. We are denied the right to self-esteem and instead must deal with self-loathing and a fear of social relationships all of our lives. It is hard to trust other people because you never know when the bullying will start again.
Bullying cannot be Tolerated
This all has to change. Schools need to have firm rules about bullying which apply in every room and every corner of the building. Companies need to have strict harassment policies and human resources must enforce them. Laws have to be enacted to protect innocent people from the abuse. I would include in any penalty some form of counseling. Many bullies have issues buried deep down inside of them, and only through therapy will they confront these demons. Counseling can help prevent such people from acting out again. Companies should have employee assistance programs which includes counseling therapy for those who have been harassed in the office. It helps develop a safe environment in which everyone can work productively.
I’m a firm advocate for putting a stop to bullying. It destroys lives and ruins victims inside and out. There is no reason for bullying in a compassionate society. Too many lives have been shortchanged and stunted because of vicious behavior of other people. We cannot wait for things to get better at some later date. Bullying has to stop now!