Speak up against bul­lies

Steve Bul­lock is the area com­man­der for Taupo po­lice, which en­com­passes Taupo, Tu­rangi, Toko­roa, Pu­taruru and Man­gakino po­lice sta­tions and ar­eas. This month Steve takes a look at bul­ly­ing and what it means from a po­lice per­spec­tive.

South Waikato News - - NEWS / OPINION -

Crim­i­nally speak­ing there is no such crime or of­fence called bul­ly­ing. We have as­saults, threats, in­tim­i­da­tion, crim­i­nal nui­sance and mis­use of a tele­phone of­fences, which are used to pros­e­cute bul­lies, but for the most the bully be­haves with im­mu­nity. Why? Be­cause peo­ple are afraid of him or her and fear that if they speak up then the bully will ‘‘get them’’ or will am­plify the bul­ly­ing be­hav­iour.

In my opin­ion bul­ly­ing, as it is com­monly termed, is where the be­hav­iour of an in­di­vid­ual, or a group of in­di­vid­u­als causes another: To be frightened; or be in fear; or to feel un­com­fort­able about them­selves. This is ir­re­spec­tive of what was ac­tu­ally in­tended. No sci­ence here, just my thoughts. In mod­ern times this in­cludes teas­ing, tex­ting, tweet­ing, face­book and all the mod­ern forms of com­mu­ni­cat­ing. Vi­o­lence of course still fea­tures heav­ily.

In 1991 I was the sec­ond short­est man on my po­lice re­cruit course of 106 men and women and as such was called an ‘‘Ewok’’ (those lit­tle guys in the Star Wars episodes) and in turn I called the short­est guy (my best friend at the col­lege) ‘‘lit­tle man’’. For us this was teas­ing, how­ever, the third short­est man on our wing took of­fence to be­ing called an Ewok or any­thing to do with his height. It fol­lowed that any con­tin­ued ac­tions to­wards him would be and were con­sid­ered bul­ly­ing.

If you are con­fused, what I am try­ing to say is that ir­re­spec­tive of whether or not you are teas­ing, the test is how the other per­son sees it. If he or she laughs and con­tin­ues the ban­ter, then it is ban­ter. If not, then se­ri­ously con­sider whether or not your ac­tions have made them feel un­com­fort­able. Quite sim­ple re­ally, it is only fun if ev­ery­one is en­joy­ing it.

From my school days I can re­call be­ing teased, pushed and shoved, and even beaten up, but I did not ever con­sider that I was bul­lied. Look­ing back I prob­a­bly was. I re­mem­ber my dad telling me to never hit a girl, sadly this meant I got bashed by girls and could never de­fend my­self.

School is all about chil­dren and young peo­ple iden­ti­fy­ing who they are in life. For many this means im­pos­ing their will on oth­ers, be­ing bet­ter, hav­ing more friends, be­ing the most popular. In an­i­mal terms it is ‘‘sur­vival of the fittest’’ or ‘‘dog eat dog’’. While vi­o­lence is still far too preva­lent, the most common way to be the most popular is by be­ing the funny one, climb­ing up by putting oth­ers down. The more they protest the more de­ter­mined and ul­ti­mately nasty the bully be­comes. Then there is a com­bi­na­tion of the two, the funny one who is not that funny so re­sorts to vi­o­lence if he or she is outwitted.

As of to­day it ap­pears that most bul­ly­ing is con­ducted via so­cial me­dia, peo­ple be­lit­tling, abus­ing and even threat­en­ing oth­ers. While it is sim­ple for me and oth­ers of my gen­er­a­tion to say that this is 21st cen­tury ‘‘sticks and stones will break my bones, but names will never hurt me’’ stuff, the re­al­ity is that th­ese trolls are gen­uinely up­set­ting peo­ple and mak­ing them feel un­com­fort­able about them­selves. They are bul­lies. A part of me says ‘‘get off the site and prob­lem solved’’, but hang on, we live in a demo- cratic so­ci­ety and peo­ple should be free to be on a site with­out be­ing in fear of be­ing put down or bul­lied.

For any­one who feels that they are be­ing bul­lied, please talk to some­one – mum, dad, friends and fam­ily, po­lice if need be. No­body de­serves to be liv­ing in a world where they can­not be free to ex­press them­selves or are feel­ing that they have to be sub­servient to another or oth­ers.

The other thing I ask, and I know this is easy to say but harder to do, is that you walk away. Do not re­spond to the nasty text, tweet, twit­ter or what­ever, ig­nore it. Think about a game of ten­nis, if you don’t hit the ball back they can­not hit it back at you. Yes they might make another serve but sooner or later they will run out of balls.

To any of you out there who like to im­pose your will on oth­ers, be it by vi­o­lence, threat or in­tim­i­da­tion, or by putting them down pub­licly, I say step back and take a look at your­self. What ef­fect is your be­hav­iour hav­ing on oth­ers? Why do you be­have like you do? If you are look­ing for re­spect, and let’s face it we all are, it will never come from bul­ly­ing – never. The other thing I ask you to do is con­sider whether or not what you are do­ing is crim­i­nal be­hav­iour. If it is, then I am more than happy to send the boys/ girls around to im­pose the will of the law upon you.

Un­til next time be safe, feel safe, drive safe and please think about how your ac­tions af­fect oth­ers.

Steve Bul­lock

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