So, it’s National Anti-Bullying Week.
The theme is clear: “Stop and Think – Words Can Hurt”.
Very true. Seen it happen over and over again. Sometimes deliberately. Sometimes by accident. Kids have seen it, too, and from adults to children.
Bullying is abuse. Abuse is illegal.
Why, when we hear about a week devoted to dealing with aggressive behaviour that can fuel abusive treatment and the use of coercion to affect people, do schools automatically assume it’s always the young person against the young person?Immediately, they try to look good in the eyes of their “bosses” by launching projects about teaching children and youth of all ages the difference between right from wrong?
Very often, the people teaching the message – to not be a bully – are, yes, often culprits.
Saw it today with my own eyes, and in a public facility after a high school basketball game.
A female teacher lost her composure in public and called me a “bully”. Yes, me. My oh my. Call the cops because, in the presence of other adults, I did the nasty thing of politely asking if I could interview a high school basketball player. Yes, a chance to give this youngster some media attention.
Should point out that the youngster was on Canada’s team that won a bronze medal at FIBA Americas U16 championship for women and was under the spotlight by lots of broadcast and print media. Today, however, one of the coaches – yes, this teacher – from her school said “she is shy”. Hmm. Alright, but she sure looked very out-going by speaking with a recruiting coach, spectators and others. Fine, although I still believe the student was told who she should speak with and who not, I will accept that she was “shy”.
I asked a second time, and in a professional way in front of colleagues, if I could speak directly with the player rather than hear it from the teacher. Many people were speaking to the player after the game. Then, came the word – and in a phrase.
There is no need for a female teacher to blow a gasket and be abusive in the presence of others - and within steps of players.
The player was the MVP of the game. The key factor. Yes, a National team player up against opposing players with very little experience. Funny thing, the teacher/coach of the losing team was very accommodating. So was a player on the losing team. They understand what it`s like to be sportsmanlike.
So, for the first time in my 40-year professional career of interviewing thousands of athletes, teachers, coaches, officials and more. Add on professional and amateur athletes, politicians and business leaders, now I have one female teacher – likely wanting to feel important and taking a line from her academic lesson - and drops it on me.
Who is the bully?