You are sitting here in front of your computer, tablet or mobile as you read these words. Perhaps you are a parent, a teacher, a student or a concerned citizen – the topic of this blog-post is Cyberbullying and bullying in general and the question we are all asking ourselves is: who is responsible?
If you are a child or a student who have been or who are exposed to bullying, whether online or ‘in real life’ (there isn’t really much of a difference), you know very well that what you are facing, you are facing alone. For most children, even in situations with ‘loving and caring’ parents, it is difficult to talk about bullying and what actually goes on within you, it is difficult to stop it – teachers see it, parents see it, but you feel all alone most of the time. Kids have a much more direct view into the cruelty that goes on in this world than most parents and teachers will admit. And because there exist this strange void between children/teenagers and adults where it’s like we’re almost totally different species, it is certainly not something that is easy to communicate about. Because as a child or a teenager you don’t want your parents to make a big deal out of it, because you know that it will only make it worse. And you don’t want to go crying to them, because you feel that it makes you weak which makes it even more difficult to cope with the situation at school or on social media networks like Facebook. And even still, as kids we don’t really trust adults do we? We know that they so often pretend to be listening and caring, but it is clear to see that they’re faking it and we shrug our shoulders, pull our hoodie over our heads, music in our ears and think: “What’s the point?”
For parents, teachers and concerned citizens of this world, there is so much going on in our children’s lives that we’re not even aware of. When it comes to educating ourselves on bullying, I therefore suggest watching the documentary called “Bully” that in alarming detail reveal the life of teenagers exposed to bullying at a daily basis. It is a heartbreaking film and it is important to watch to understand how bullying has become as extensive a problem as it is today.
A UK based child hotlineis reporting an increase in calls of over 87 % and doubled in a year claiming that social networking sites are not effectively acting to stop the abuse. They also found that 72 per cent of counseling was with 12 to 18-year-olds, while 28 per cent was with children aged 11 and under.
Again, everyone asks: But who’s responsible?
Why is it for example that children call a child hotline instead of talking to their parents or their teachers? The teachers claim the parents are responsible, whether their child is a bully or the victim of a bully. Either it is the parents who have taught the child bad manors at home or the parent hasn’t effectively taught the child to stand up for themselves. An example of how parents aren’t very good role-models for their children can be seen in this article from Daily Mail that exposes how on Sunday, over 10 people, all families with children at a Berkshire theme park got into a nasty brawl over the long wait in a queue for a ride.
The parents want the teachers to take responsibility and feel in the dark about what is actually happening while the child is at school. As depicted in the documentary shared above teachers and principals at schools are certainly not living up to their responsibility of being guardians of the best interests of our children. In fact they mostly seem entirely apathetic and without any practical tools to actually address or stop the bullying happening at schools. An example of this can be seen in another article from the Daily Mail from today where a 14-year-old boy sexually attacked his teacher. Ironically the boy had himself been a victim of abuse.
‘Concerned citizens’ and other adults who often aren’t in direct contact with many children, sometimes blame bullying and cyberbullying on the children themselves, claiming that victims of bullying are ‘weak’ in character and that it is their own fault for taking what is being said to them personally. Such was the case of one of the most recent victims who committed suicide that I wrote about in the previous blog-post. But imagine for a moment being with a person day in and day out who tells you that you’re ugly, that you don’t deserve to live and that you should kill yourself. That is what it is like for children exposed to bullying and especially cyberbullying. Because in schools, kids are faced with their tormenters day in and day out, often with little chance of being able to change schools. And on social media networks, it is like the bully comes directly into your bedroom and abuses you where you are most intimate. And some adults might say that the kids can then simply delete their Facebook profiles or that the parents should ban all Internet access – but someone would only say that when they don’t understand how the Internet is the teenager’s whole life, where they share themselves, where they make plans with friends, where they start relationships and friendships. And there is nothing wrong with building relationships both online and in ‘real life’. The problem is within ‘who’ we are within it all. Now also imagine that you are a child or a young adult with a still developing mind and body who has not yet been introduced to the harsh reality of life. How much abuse would you be able to handle? How much would it take before you would start inverting the words of the bullies into yourself and believe that what they are saying is true? If you don’t believe that people – and especially children and young adults gets easily affected by the words of others – then ask yourself why companies spend billions upon billions on marketing campaigns targeting children. Ask yourself when you have last bought something or wanted to buy something that you hadn’t seen somewhere in an advertisement or on a billboard. Obviously a child or a teenager is no different, when they are exposed to a constant and continuous stream of words directed at them personally, for which they have no context or reference of understanding. Please listen to the this interview for further perspective on what it is like for a teenager to be exposed to extensive cyberbullying.
Again – the question everyone asks is: but who is responsible?
Obviously, everybody wants the government to take responsibility. And as mentioned in the previous post, Canada is one of the first countries to implement laws making cyberbullying a criminal offence. But even here, there aren’t being done as much as is actually necessary to stop cyberbullying and bullying in general. Governments usually only step in after they receive bad press about an issue that they aren’t addressing – seldom do they actually implement effective preventive solutions, because they don’t think that far ahead. It’s all about winning the next election and juggling money to keep the corporations and fat cats of society happy.
The question no one seems to as is: What is my responsibility within all this?
Where is our self-responsibility in all this?
If we for a moment have a look inside our own minds, we will be able to see – and this is the same whether we are parents, teachers, students or concerned citizens – that we have an inner bully inside our heads. A bully as a personality or a character that we use to bully others and ourselves in our minds. We even take this inner bullying as far as living it out through our words and deeds, most often without even being aware of it, because bullying has become such an ingrained and accepted part of our existence together on this Earth that we perceive it as perfectly normal to for example judge other people in our minds and believe that the opinions we form about them are real and righteous. An example of this can be seen within how even video games has taken to bullying and as such video game producer ‘rock star games’ have created a game called ‘Bully‘ that allows the gamer to play a bully raving havoc at a boarding school. This certainly ought to make an alarm go of, similar to the game celebrated by teenagers far and wide ‘GTA’ or ‘Grand Theft Auto’ that for example celebrates violence against women.
If we are serious about stopping cyberbullying and bullying in general – we must start with ourselves. We must start by stopping the bully in ourselves, whether directed at ourselves or at others. The inner bully is also what causes parents and teachers to become apathetic towards supporting their children. How could they know what to do, when they don’t even know how to stop the bully in their own mind? We obviously then also require education for parents and teachers to understand bullying and how to stop it – that it is not only about getting kids to talk about it – but to realize that bullying is a symptomatic sign of our human nature and that the source of bullying is: ourselves. The Internet is a direct reflection of our own minds and so we can establish within all certainty that cyberbullying wouldn’t exist if we had not already allowed bullying to exist within and as ourselves. How can we claim to be serious about stopping the bullying existent in this world when we do nothing to stop our own inner bullies? As such – exactly as everyone blames each other; parents blaming teachers, teachers blaming parents, ‘concerned citizens’ blaming children and the government – we do the exact same in our own minds. We say: “I would never do something like that!” Really? Take a look inside your own mind and see if that is true.
At Desteni we take bullying seriously. We don’t accept or allow any form of cyberbullying within our group or on our sites. We are here providing support and assistance for those exposed to bullying with how to assist and support yourself to not invert the bullying into yourself but to be able to stand up and stand stable in yourself – whether your bully is a person outside of yourself or whether your bully is yourself in fact. Join the DIPLite course – which is free online DIY course through which you will learn effective tools to understand how our minds create reality and how to empower yourself to stop and stand up. Join the Desteni forum where support is available 24/7.