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Blogging in English und auf Deutsch.
English: A key topic of this blog certainly is Bullying, and what can be done against it.
Deutsch: Ein Kernthema dieses Blogs is ganz sicherlich Mobbing, und was dagegen getan werden kann.
E: There are still lots of other topics here, too - feel free to cruise around and take a look :-)!
D: Es gibt aber auch noch viele andere Themen - schaut Euch einfach um :-)!
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In the banner picture: Libera.

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

Anti-Bullying: Respect the Snowflakes! (Blog entry #100)

The above video is an impromptu collaboration between YouTuber Peter Oaklay aka geriatric1927 (the number here being his year of birth!), that we made on the occasion of the "No Bulling" week in Great Britain last November.

We had a talk about two ideas I had, how YouTube could finally start to offer people who get harassed by cyber-bullies, trolls and whatnot real support and show them that not they, the victims, are the ones who need to change things (for example by giving up their channels, to get rid of bullies!), but that the YouTube community, represented by the site's provider (aka YouTube!) has to stand up to the responsibilities they have for the safety and well-being of their community members.

In response to that, I was contacted by a student, who had to hold a lecture on Bullying at her school. She asked me for a few thoughts on the subject, and so, I wrote the following kind-of essay on Bullying.


I think it is most important that victims of bullies need our attention, our support and our help. But not to fight battles in their stead!

We need to, say, "empower" victims, boost their self-esteem, and their trust in themselves — because that's what gets shattered so much, by being bullied.

They need to see that there are people ...

1.) who listen to what the victims have to say, and take them for serious

2.) who try to also feel what the victims feel (their fear, their sadness, their shame, and their need for help), and take them for serious with that as well

3.) who, after listening and feeling, start to think about what they got to know and

4.) who then try to say things that might be of help

All of those four steps are needed, have to be done in that particular order, and none may be omitted.
And the important thing is: Superficial advice like "Shrug it off!" or "A boy does not cry, be tough!" is of no worth at all - better save your breath, if nothing better comes to your mind. Be honest instead, and admit that you share the victim's feeling of being clueless and speechless about the gruesome situation at this moment.

You have to show the victim that ...

- he / she can and must get help (by informing the school authorities, for example, who are in charge and responsible for the safety of their students, and will have to answer if someone gets abused!), so they do not stand alone on the situation that is so terrible for him.

- what a bully says and does is NOT RIGHT, and the bully HAS NO RIGHT to treat anybody like he does — mental and physical abuse are substance for criminal persecution, as soon as someone is old enough to be persecuted, but they are NOT RIGHT, either, as long as this person is still too young for that!

- someone who gets bullied is no second class person who "deserves" to be anyone's toy, just because he cannot stand up alone against physical or mental brutality.

- he / she is able to stand up against abuse, because he / she is not alone, even if they may feel lonely.

For those who become witness to others being bullied, it is important to not look away, but to be there and help. And the more do that, the easier it gets ... this is a golden rule for so many things in life!

Be there ... object ... say "Stop!" ... get help ... stand in the way of a bully.

This will force the bully to re-think his strategy - and they don't like doing that :-)!

One person who helps a bully victim is awesome ... but why not have five, ten or twenty people be there, stand together and support someone? To show the bully that basically everyone except he himself disapproves of what he does, and that you will not leave your friend behind and alone in his troubles, but that you will get help and stop the bully from having his way?

Those who bully are dangerous. They bring harm, and in what they do, they are strong ... because they act unfair to the max.

Those who do not bully others, and do not use methods of physical and mental abuse to stand up against others, may seem weak.

These people are like, say, snowflakes.
If a bully tries to catch and crush a single snowflake, he will do so without problem. He will also manage to do so with two or three snowflakes falling from the sky at a time. But let him try doing that with ten snowflakes at a time he wont be able to. They are too many, and they can do things he can't prevent. They will get past him, at least a few, and reach their goal!

The goal of a snowflake is to fall to the ground. If we see ourselves as human snowflakes, our goal should be to help someone in need, not by using force, but by getting help, by outweighing a bully in sheer numbers, but without fighting back, and, by this, making it impossible for him to keep up his reign — simply because he  is only one person, but the snowflakes are many … too many for him to handle, if they all act on a common goal.

Ever seen what an avalanche does?
An avalanche is a gazillion of snowflakes, being set into motion by a trigger, and doing so by simply following the laws of gravity.
And if we think of someone who goes skiing in the mountains, and yells around loud and nasty, although the sign posts say "Quiet, please" etc., to prevent any damage that is causes by a single person, this person's noise will maybe cause an avalanche to go down. Not to fight that person, not to harm him — that's not the intention of those snowflakes. They start sliding down the mountain only in reaction of what this person did, and because he did not stop, although there were rules and signs that told him otherwise.
And then, this person will be in trouble, and he will NOT be able to withstand this force with his usual strategies. He will have to retreat, and better do so quickly!

Why not be ... Human Snowflakes? Beautiful and soft, sweet to look at, not harming anyone - but in case of need, one Snowflake gets the support of many other Snowflakes, who are just there and stand in harm's way, or go around him, to get help from people who can help?

If many of us come to think that way, it is time for the Bullies to change their ways, finally, and to respect the Snowflakes :-)!


A different and very important issue, though, is, that basically every bully somehow and at some point in his life has been, or still is, a victim, too. It may be in his family, by being abused and mistreated there, or in various other ways. These things, and specially the devastating effects they have on him, will be the best kept secrets of a bully.

Someone who gets hurt and feels miserable ever so often, will seek ways to relieve some of the pressure in his life. And if he (or she) cannot solve the problem that is at hand, cannot escape the situation that is painful and terrible, they will try to find people who feel just as bad as they themselves do, or possibly even worse. They will try to MAKE people feel that way, and therefore feel, all of a sudden, like they are STRONG, that they are not only doomed to endure pain, but also can inflict pain on others.

This may be a powerful motive for a bully to establish and keep up his reign of terror on others. Just to relieve some of the pressure that the bully feels.

And as long as the bully does not start working on his own situation there, he will remain in the position he is in — simply because he needs to have this vent for his heart and soul.

Therefore, punishing bullies, by, for example putting a bully into a boot camp, to mentally break him there and "reconstruct" him, will only lead to him (out of fear!) acting in different ways, and this means that the "game" starts anew, and nothing will really change:
The bully will only see that he acts more carefully, and will be more effective in threatening his victims from then on, to keep them from reporting him, so he won't get caught.

Bullies are victims, too, and they need help, not only reprimands. They have to be stopped hurting people, yes - but they need more than that. They need help in the effort of getting to the source, and to solve the real, the basic problem. And this is ever so often an even far more complicated task.
Still: It is just as important as to help the victims.



1 comment:

John Follis said...

Hi Michael,

It's great to hear you speak out against bullying. I share your concern.

This anti-bullying campaign is something that my video marketing team and I recently created and it's been getting some positive attention and support.


Perhaps you'd like to join us in being part of the solution by sharing it with others you know who share our concern about bullying.