When bullying isn’t really bullying at all 61



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There are times when we should just harden up and get on with it.

I do not for one moment condone bullying. It is wrong and should not be tolerated. In its worst form it has severe emotional and physical effect and leaves scars that can last forever. But this is not always the case because nowadays it seems that the term is applied to even the slightest bit of criticism.

I was having a beer with a mate a couple of days ago and he told me about an incident he had been involved in at work. It seems that a male work colleague was claiming that he had been bullied in the workplace and as a result the entire staff had been interviewed. According to my mate the entire issue was a beat up and in his opinion the bloke in question had not been bullied. He had merely been told that “if you don’t pull your finger out and start showing a bit of interest you will find yourself looking for another job”. Apparently this bloke was given every chance and as much support as was possible to become part of the team. Now, my mate is not one to unfairly treat a fellow worker and I would trust his word as gospel. So when he told me that the bloke claiming to have been bullied constantly refused to do whatever was required as part of the team by using the excuse that it was not part of his job, you can take it as dinkum that is exactly what happened.

I also know that my mate is a very astute judge of character and his assessment of the bloke in question left little doubt in my mind that here we had a person who had been spoon fed all his life. One who had been bought up with the attitude that the world owed him something and would look for any chance to blame others. A person without the ability to take criticism or advice on board, preferring instead to cry foul. Anyway my mate was quiet concerned that this bloke’s laziness and refusal to work as part of a team had caused a bit of strife in the ranks. It seems that other workers were carrying the extra work load and naturally a bit of name calling and tongue in cheek comment had been made about this bloke’s attitude. Definitely not bullying but more akin to workplace banter and high jinx. Yet this bloke’s inability to wake up to himself, change his attitude and man up had caused him to falsely claim that he was being bullied.

This got me thinking about how things have changed and why it is that incidents of so called bullying are becoming more common. When I was a child at school teasing and picking on others was common place and I doubt there is anyone around my age who can say that they did not tease or pick on someone during their school years or that they never experienced being teased or picked on. It was and still is a part of school yard life. It was not a pleasant experience to be teased or picked on but we learnt from it and discovered that sometimes things get tough.

In more recent times I see a very different school yard and the children that fill that yard are the product of a society that has gone soft. Parents tend to wrap their child in cottonwool and shield completely from anything that may cause stress or emotional pain. Instead of teaching their child how to deal with the realities of life they cry foul and shift the blame by openly complaining and demanding that action be taken. I see many parents placing their children on a pedestal with the belief that they have to be totally protected from any form of emotional or indeed physical pain. In so doing they create a false sense of security and an attitude within that child that life is always going to be easy.

Perhaps a misguided perception of bullying has evolved over the years and that is why school yard teasing is now seen as bullying. Depending upon how we were bought up, what we experienced and what we were taught as children seems to have a bearing on how we perceive bullying and how we see it in modern society.

There are many definitions of the word bully and many forms of bullying. To me it is deliberate constant emotional or physical harassment and abuse delivered in such a way that it does harm to another person. Those that have a knee jerk reaction to what is no more than school yard teasing or work place banter should think before they accuse someone of bullying.


What do you think? What constitutes bullying? Tell us below.

Rod Faithfull

I live in Bairnsdale in the Victorian East Gippsland region. I have been married to Mira for thirty-eight years. We both recently turned sixty and still work. I am employed at a school camp and holiday resort doing gardening and general maintenance. Mira is a Diversional Therapist at one of our local Age care facilities. My hobbies include: Photography, writing, gardening, collecting die-cast model cars and kayaking. Mira is into gardening, antiques, crafts etc. Whenever work and other commitments allow we travel. Sometimes great distances, sometimes not so far and sometimes just around the corner.

  1. I totally agree with Rod’s comments. I cannot get over the way that many children today are wrapped in cotton wool. I can say that one of my grandchildren is the same. everyone in the family walks on eggshells around her, she is allowed to take as much time off school as she wishes simply by claiming she is being bullied, when in actual fact she can’t face everyday reality and is allowed to escape from it. It seems commonplace today for children to have a counsellor. I am a bit of a softie myself but find myself feeling that some children / adults need a good kick up the backside and need to toughen up to lead a productive happy and confident life. While we are talking I also believe that some teachers / parents seem to want to see a “level” playing field, academically and within sport and frown on a competitive nature believing it to be aggressive. Where would we be without our competitors? All drones on a level playing field. We are all different and have different talents. Encourage those who need it. Don’t hold back those that excel.

  2. This is an excellent article and it is so true. While protecting our children we also need to teach them to be resiliant or they will not survive in the big wide world. Workplace or schoolyard bullying should never be tolerated but we also need to learn how to deal with things that may not be to our liking.

  3. I have to agree , we were brought up tough because the world was tough. I was told never to allow anyone to hit me , hit them back , don’t take any cheek , stand up for yourself . It taught me to deal with the real world, it taught me to deal with adversity , it taught me to deal without a mother from a young age . My little sister was bullied at about the age of eight after we lost our mum , I waited at the school gates for him , sorted the little tyke out , she was never bullied again . I doubt if he bullied again , there is always somebody bigger and stronger out there , he learned his lesson . I sometimes think people are bulldozed into accepting the unacceptable . My advice from an old girl is still the same , stand up for yourself

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  4. Great article, spot on. If the person in question is not complying with his job description then the employer should be entitled to sack him. Sadly it sounds like this person knows the in and outs of some pretty ridiculous legislation and would probably go for unfair dismissal. His workmates should just totally ignore him and not pick up any of the slack so there is basis for dismissal.

  5. It’s an interesting conversation…. I’ve also recently come to the view that “bullying” is both emotive and over used. My most recent personal experience of being called a bully was in a meeting I was chairing … my unreasonable behaviour included… asking that only one person speak at a time, asking that any question come thru the chair rather than as personal attacks and suggesting that once a vote was taken a topic was closed … pretty standard meeting procedure I’d always thought but no … I’m a bully. 🙁 Bullying is unacceptable but so is throwing a tantrum when you are called to account for your behaviour or opinions.

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    • Wendy, I chair meetings like you do, so I must be a bully too!! I find it’s men who want to digress or re-visit a topic which takes much longer and is not the right way to go about things. We all have an agenda and the issues are itemised, discussed, voted on and closed, or noted as a “bring forward” matter….

  6. Well written and we do need to protect from vicious bullies but teasing and a bit of a go are not the same!

  7. Williamina Anne McFarlane try to wait at school gates today to sort tykes out and see what happens..
    My grandson is bullied unmercyfully at school. Tripped over… punched… kicked.. and blamed for classroom antics he hasn’t done.
    The school now realize he’s being bullied.last year he was suspended many times for sticking up for himself now we’ve taught him to not fight back but to report immediately. We are not happy with that but school policy dictates that both the person who starts the fight and the other party who participated both get suspended. We would prefer that the person who threw the 1st punch be suspended but school policy dictates that defending yourself is dangerous behavior and both parties cop it. My grandson lives with me and I am frustrated with all of this. Because of being suspended and losing time off school I’ve threatened him to not retaliate and that really goes against my grain
    Schools are not the same as they used to be . Oh how we wish they were.

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    • Tell the school that the next time your grandson is hit, you are calling police and having the child charge and an AVO taken out. They don’t take this seriously enough. I taught my children to never hit first but if somebody hits you, you hit them back

    • absolutely and have the school held accountable for not having a safe place for children to learn in, what a lot of rot, I taught my kids to never hurt anyone, but if anyone hurt them then they finish it and make sure you hurt them a lot more, trust me never met a bully that came back for more and funny enough their friends slink away too. Of high school charge them with assault.

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