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.
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.