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Bullying: not just kids stuff – By Lee Hudson

Is it me or does there seem to be and more bullying on TV?

getoverit2Even in comedies or light-hearted, ‘feel-good’ movies, there always seems to be, if not an out and out case of bullying, an undercurrent of harassment or persecution. It has reached such epidemic proportions that I actually worry about what horrors my bestest friend, the television, might subject me to next. Perhaps that’s the problem. I love my TV and I don’t want it to be that making me distressed or to feel so uncomfortable. How much worse then it must be if people have to live with that feeling ‘day in-day out’ at work, school or even at the hands of so-called ‘friends’.

With the release of the Stonewall inspired and financed film FIT, aimed at school kids, more people are seeing just how much of a problem homophobic bullying can be in a person’s formative years. I have just read about 13-year-old Asher Brown over in the States – The eighth-grade straight-A student was picked on for being small, not wearing designer clothing, and for being gay. Bullies performed “mock gay acts” on Brown during Phys Ed. His mother said her phone calls were never returned and when both parents visited to the school to complain about harassment they were ignored. The torment took its toll; on the 23rd September this year at around 4:30pm Asher retrieved his stepfather’s 9mm Beretta from the closet and shot himself dead.

We know America is a country of extremes but this act wrenched at my heart and anger at the perpetrators flooded through my body. How could no one stop this lad’s torment?
Schools, and especially American schools, have this jock = top-dog, while geek = victim mentality… just look at the series Glee for confirmation of that ridiculous assumption. However, this series is watched by millions world-wide and I wonder, despite the fabulous songs and brilliant musical numbers, just what other messages it is sending out.

Schools in the UK need to be on the look-out for bullying in all its forms and let’s hope that FIT is a resource that will prove effective in tackling this undeniable menace.

However, school is not the only place where bullying takes place. We hear more and more about such activities taking place in the work place. I suppose we hear about them more these days because people are more aware of their right to complain and expect action to be taken. Unfortunately this isn’t always the case and many employers would rather see the problem simply swept under the carpet. Don’t let this happen, if you feel you are being bullied, whether it is a result of your personality or sexuality, complain and make a huge song and dance about it if nothing appears to be being done.

People of all ages seem to be under attack on these social networking websites, particularly Facebook. Liz Carnell, a director of Bullying UK says; “The amount of distress that abuse, false rumours and hate messages can cause is appalling. Often the website address of these postings is passed around school (or workplace) so the humiliation is total and people panic because they don’t know what to do to get the abuse removed”. Bullying UK recommends that people who are abused on the internet print out the content and make a complaint to the police who have the power to contact the website and then the internet service provider to find out who is behind the abuse. “Bullies should be warned that there is no hiding place in cyber space,” Liz said. “Everything you do on the internet leaves a digital fingerprint and if you post abuse and threats then it isn’t difficult for the police to track you down.”

Bullying can be defined as deliberately hurtful behaviour that is repeated over a period of time. This can include:
– teasing, abusive remarks and name calling
– threats and physical violence
– damage to property
– leaving the individual out of social activities deliberately
– spreading rumours
– upsetting mobile phone or email messages (sometimes called cyberbullying)

The bully selects their target using the following criteria:
bullies are predatory and opportunistic – you just happen to be in the wrong place at the wrong time; this is always the main reason – investigation will reveal a string of predecessors, and you will have a string of successors
– being good at your job, often excelling
– being popular with people (colleagues, customers, clients, pupils, parents, patients, etc)
– more than anything else, the bully fears exposure of his/her inadequacy and incompetence; your presence, popularity and competence unknowingly and unwittingly fuel that fear
– having a well-defined set of values which you are unwilling to compromise
– having a strong sense of integrity (bullies despise integrity, for they have none, and seem compelled to destroy anyone who has integrity)
– having at least one vulnerability that can be exploited
– being too old or too expensive (usually both)
– refusing to join an established clique
– showing independence of thought or deed

So, don’t be bullied. Shout out “NO” and make sure everyone understands why you are shouting this. It may not be easy to stick-up for yourself but there are groups and organisations around who you can look to for help.

Making a song and dance about it.

glee-wallpaper-canadian-gay-boyAs all of us Gleeks get ready for the second series of this song and dance fest, and with all the reports of a bevy of stars all eager, or already signed up, to be in the show, we take a look at one of the programme’s mainstays.

He isn’t the hunkiest, or perhaps the sexiest, member of the cast but Glee’s soft-spoken and keen Kurt Hummel, played very convincingly by Chris Colfer, says in an interview with Access Hollywood that his character in the show is more reality than fiction. He was out during his real high school years; and, according to the interview, had accepting parents but was bullied while in school – an issue often talked about on Glee. The producers of the show were so impressed with the young actors audition performance (he’d read for the part of Artie) that they created the role of Kurt for him. According to the Glee website, Kurt, sorry Chris, was “very active during high school” and grew up performing in community and regional theatre. At age 14, he assistant-directed a theatrical benefit for Valley Children’s Hospital. He was also president of the writer’s club, editor of the school literary magazine and a speech and debate champion.

Glee returns for the second series on Channel 4 (or E4)