Thursday, December 10, 2009
I just read a short celebrity type blurb about Susan Boyle and how bullying affected her life. Of course, it came as no surprise. People were still rolling their eyes at her when they saw her step on the stage before her dynamic performance.
I hear the same story over and over again. When people ask me what I do and I mention my interest in bullying, you can't believe the number of adults who blurt out their story and the pain, not matter the age, is apparent.
Many feel bullying is a "rite of passage." I'm pretty open-minded and perhaps there's some truth to that, but when you see the pain linger for years, the "passage" part never happened.
Why not? I'm sure there's a mix of reasons (once again, a Tangled Ball). It could be personality or other life circumstances or perhaps the fact that no one stepped in, either to stop it or to empathize.
And now with cyber-bullying, watch out! It's only worse. More embarrassing and impossible to escape. Can you imagine if you're a kid who's being mistreated at school and you just can't wait to get home to escape -- but then it starts online? You have no where to go.
Linda Sanford, author of Strong at the Broken Places, was the keynote speaker at the International Bullying Prevention Conference in Pittsburgh several weeks ago. One of her many skillfully delivered messages was that one person can make such a difference in the emotional life of another person going through trauma. According to Sanford, "it doesn't have to be someone who is there all the time." Just someone who supports with words, or gestures, or kindnesses and respect.
Which means we all have the potential of impacting the life of a person of any age who, because of our basic interest in them, may grow to be healthier and happier. I find this hopeful which is perhaps why this conference was titled, Hope.
Just seeing, caring and showing a little outrage -- "You don't deserve that!"-- can go a long way to diminish the long term heartache.
P.S. If you have 5 min. watch Britain's Got Talent video again. Wouldn't it be great to interview those audience members who were dramatically rolling their eyeballs? You never know when 80 million people will end up seeing you look like an insensitive boob.