Another golden heart stopped beating because the black hearts made life unbearable.
I can feel my own heart breaking. I am filled with fear. The fear is for the Goddesses, never far from my thoughts.
How are they to cope in a world that has become the perfect breeding space for bullies?
When our leaders influence with intimidation, how can we possibly save our kids?
IS IT POSSIBLE TO BANISH BULLIES?
The problem is we can’t stop bullying. It has been around since (human) time began. Many believe it began with our survival instinct and the need to compete for food and resources. Survival of the fittest at its ugliest.
Bullying was a major theme in Oliver Twist, the Charles Dickins novel, first published in 1838.
In 1862, The Times (London) published the story of John Flood, the victim of “long, malignant and systematic bullying”. Flood ended up shooting his tormentor. He was sentenced to death. The Queen overturned the sentence, given his kindly disposition and the circumstances.
Education and anti-bully laws may go a long way towards limiting the incidence of bullying, but the truth is, the world has never been a better playground for bullies.
The internet has provided the perfect platform, its anonymity catering to the key trait of bullies – cowardice.
Hiding behind the armour of a screen, the bullies can allow their venom to pour out continuously like volcano lava, destroying everything in its path.
A GOLDEN HEART STOPPED BEATING
In the wake of another beautiful young teenager taking her life because of non-stop bullying, South Australia is considering introducing tough new anti-bully laws that could see serious offenders end up in jail.
Adelaide schoolgirl Libby Bell, just 13, took her own life on August 28 this year after putting up with years of cyberbullying and physical abuse.
Victoria has a similar anti-bully law. Brodie’s Law was introduced in 2011 after 19-year-old Brodie Panlock, a victim of workplace bullying, ended her life in 2006.
Victorian police reported in June 2016 that nearly 60 people had been charged with more than 140 bullying offences since the law was introduced.
Victoria Police Chief Commissioner Graham Ashton said he was concerned it was only the ‘tip of the iceberg’.
The insidious nature of bullying, especially with the aid of technology, makes it difficult for law enforcement to pinpoint bullies and to prove they are creating an offence.
We may be able to slow the flow of bullying, but I believe we cannot stop it completely.
So how do we save our kids?
We humans seem unable to keep up with our own inventiveness. We failed to foresee the dark side of technology. Now we are left scrambling to deal with the issues as they arise.
Numerous schools now offer wellness counsellors to help deal with the emotional problems of students, such as the impact of bullying.
The sad fact is though, many students do not seek help because they feel embarrassed and ashamed.
WHEN THE BULLIES ARE BABIES
Now that we are aware of the new dangers and opportunities for bullies, we can help prepare our children while they are young.
The oldest Goddess, who started school this year, was given an award the other day.
There is nothing unusual about that. She seems to receive them regularly.
What amazed me was the reason she was granted the award.
A boy in her year had vomited and while all the other kids responded with exclamations of ‘eww’, she went, unasked, grabbed some paper and cleaned it up.
As her parents told me this story, the Goddess started talking about the other kids and how some of them were mean.
Her mother said she was already hearing so many stories about the nastiness of other kids.
The bullying has already begun. – these kids are just six-years-old.
I’m not sure why this shocks me. My own son was regularly hit and punched by bullies in his kindergarten and Year 1 class.
When he told me, I went straight to the school, of course. The head teacher told me she had never seen evidence of it and couldn’t act unless she did. The bullying went on.
The tormentors would wait until my son went to the toilet and then follow him there with the express purpose of hurting him.
I kept talking to the school. It was finally my seven-year-old son who came up with a solution. He suggested the teacher watch as he went to the toilet at recess and wait to see what would happen.
She finally caught the bullies in the act and put an end to their tormenting.
WHEN THE STAKES GET HIGHER
When he reached high school, the stakes became higher. He ran home one day in fear of being beaten up by a particularly nasty group.
Again I raced to the school. The receptionist asked if I had an appointment when I asked to see the principal. I told her ‘no’ but it’s ‘a matter of life and death’.
The principal told me she had to be careful how she dealt with these bullies. Their relatives were well-known criminals who had been in and out of jail. It could well be a case of life and death.
“Keep a close eye on your son this weekend,” she said. And we live in a really friendly area with a high school that has an excellent reputation!
All three sons were bullied at some stage. I mentioned this to the youngest as we discussed his daughter’s wonderful award.
He said he felt grateful that, when he and his brothers were in school, Myspace was just starting and all the other social networks were yet to become a thing.
MATCHING HEARTS TO BANISH BULLIES
Times have certainly changed and we need to find a way to help our kids cope with that. We need to find a way to do it without scaring them and creating other negative issues.
We have to speak their language.
I told my granddaughter she has a golden heart. It’s true.
I told her she will meet people with black hearts because the world has those kinds of people as well.
“When you meet a black heart, you need to stay away from them to protect your golden heart”.
“You need to surround yourself with other golden hearts and never listen to anything that the black hearts say because they never really know what they are talking about”.
I’m going to reinforce this message. I’ll tell her how my imaginary dragon, who lived inside me, protected me from the black hearts when I was in school.
That dragon used his fire to burn the nasty words, and his wings to fly away from sneers and sniggers.
I’ll explain how as I grew older I realised the dragon was me – my strength and power , and that I could rescue myself and make my own world beautiful, without the black hearts intruding.
Sometimes it’s easier for kids to seek anonymous help. Kids Helpline is a counselling and support service, specifically for children and young people in Australia, aged 5 to 25 years. There is useful information on the website for parents, carers, teachers and of course, kids and teens. You can also free call 1800 55 1800.
Wishing you a world surrounded by golden hearts and glee, Tamuria.