Alien Messages: Are you a bully?

Charo - Where are the bullies, Kalpana? We had anti-bullying day on Feb. 26 and a lot of people were wearing their pink T-shirts, so I guess those were the Good Guys. I wonder: Where are the Bad Guys, the bullies? When we speak about bullying, turns out nobody’s a bully. We address the issue as if we were the onlookers and incapable of bullying anyone. So, where are the bullies?

Kalpana - Well, they must be somewhere because bullying is a major problem for Canadian children, and one we can’t afford to ignore. At least 1 in 3 adolescent students in Canada have reported being bullied. Isn’t that alarming? A bully is someone who is habitually mean to others, inflicting both physical and psychological abuse on his or her victims, picking on targets they perceive as weak because of racial, mental or physical difference.

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Charo – And bullying doesn’t stop in adulthood. These schoolyard bullies grow into wife beaters, criminals, people that disrespect their co-workers or employees’ rights, people who make racial or sexist jokes, etc. In short, they keep doing what they did as children, but in the bigger and more ruthless adult playground: they target individuals they perceive as more vulnerable because of their race, their social position, or any other circumstance.

Kalpana - Yes, the bullies grow and the bullied grow too, and contrary to traditional views of bullying as mere child’s play, research shows that bullying has significant short and long-term adverse consequences for targets, perpetrators, and others who witness bullying. Children who are bullied are more likely to suffer a variety of psychological disorders, including depression and anxiety. I believe no parent or caretaker would want their kids to grow in such toxic environment. Unfortunately, we have lost many kids lives on bullying. 

Charo - That is a very sad truth. We have to fight bullying, and this fight starts at home. And even deeper, it starts with a very simple introspection: ask yourself this very simple question: Am I a bully? Do like Michael Jackson sang: “I’m starting with the man in the mirror.” Be true to yourself and be thorough in your answer. If you are a bully, something is wrong inside you and all the universe of people around you are being intoxicated by it. Bullying can be worse than coronavirus.

Kalpana - We all have the power to keep kids safe. As long as bullying persists and children are hurt, we are not doing enough. The school system has to be active about the situation. Bullying stops when the bystander steps in. As parents, caretakers, teachers, and principals, we have a big responsibility to provide a safe and secure environment for our children. Positive outcomes could teach kids to stand up against bullying.

Charo - Bullying is very present here in Fort St. John. Unfortunately, not long ago, we personally witnessed a case of racial bullying in a Fort St. John School, involving a child who was being harassed verbally and physically because of the colour of his skin. If we allow these things to happen, things like racism, discrimination, and brutality will perpetuate. 

Kalpana - Yes. Let’s look beyond the pink T-shirts before it’s too late.

Charo Lloret is from Spain; Kalpana Loganathan is from India. They reflect on their experiences immigrating to Canada and settling into their new homes in Fort St. John.

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