I should have done more

When I was at school in the 1970s I won a prize, the inaugural Bruce McCallum Memorial Prize for spoken French. Bruce was a fellow pupil of mine at school who wasn’t well and he sadly passed away a few months before the prize giving. I remember his funeral well. The place was packed and lots of us school boys lined the pathway in the church grounds. Bruce suffered more than his fair share of bullying when he was alive and sadly, a few kids in the line persisted in their rudeness even on this sad day. I remember thinking I should do something about this. I asked some of the kids to shut up and got told where to stick it. I didn’t have the bottle to do any more and just stood there feeling awkward. On the day I received the prize I was introduced to his parents and felt quite overwhelmed. Overwhelmed that I’d won something and overwhelmed at my memory of Bruce’s funeral day and the fact that I didn’t do enough. I’ve still got the prize, a copy of David Attenborough’s Life on Earth.

HR should have done more

Back in 2002, as an up and coming manager in BT I was on the receiving end of persistent bullying from my manager. He undermined me, threatened to sack me, was rude to me, and regularly put me down in front of my peers and customers. This went on for months and months. To this day I don’t know why he did it, and I do know that it hurt, badly. I was so undermined, my confidence almost completely crushed. I’d spoken with the bully many times about his behaviour and on each occasion he tried to dismiss it as me over reacting. I’d been to speak with his manager and to HR a couple of times to ask for help, and been told to resolve it with the bully directly. Through all this I was fortunate to have another manager in the business offering me some support. It was helpful to talk and with his reassurance, I finally went to HR and the guy’s manager together – poured out the whole story and put it to them that if they didn’t intervene I was going to go off work sick and take out a grievance against the guy. To this day I’m not proud of what I said but I felt backed into a dark, dark corner. I felt desperate. I got moved to another team and got on with enjoying my work. On reflection I have found the experience very helpful as I now know what it its like to be on the receiving end of persistent unwelcome behaviour. It’s important to learn from these things if we can. The bully left the country shortly after HRs eventual intervention; I think he still works for the company.

They are doing something

There has been a recent case of bullying at my daughter’s school. Since the victim found the courage to speak up, the school has been dealing with her sympathetically and talking with the bullies and the whole school about bullying being unacceptable and the importance of speaking up about bullying. I am pleased the school has both the systems and the pastoral caring attitude in place to feel able to address this unpleasantness.

Deafened by the roar of mice. #bannatynegate

I’ve been fascinated by the recent row sparked by Duncan Bannatyne who tried to spoil the good name of the XpertHR business by throwing around unsubstantiated allegations on Twitter. Here are a few screen shots of the emerging Twitter row which show:

8th March 2011 – unsubstantiated allegations of dishonesty made by Bannatyne to XpertHR.

Bannatyne Twitter Feed 8th March 2011

8th March 2011 – when challenged by Ailsa Suttie, queen of all roaring mice, and Deadbeat Mum, aka wonder woman (who messes with super heroes?), Bannatyne becomes rankled and says he will post evidence of XpertHR’s dishonesty the following day.

Bannatyne Twitter Feed 8th March 2011

9th March 2011 – nothing. No evidence presented by Bannatyne

10th March 2011 – Bannatyne is reminded of his promise to produce evidence, he becomes irritable (more than usual) and no evidence is provided.

Bannatyne 10th March 2011

Bannatyne 10th March 2011 2

11th March onwards – Bannatyne blocks everyone and anyone in and around the #connectinghr community who continues to remind him of his pledge. No evidence is provided.

12th March 2011 onwards, the silence continues.

What have I learned from this collection of experiences? Once folk take a stand and speak out it is much more difficult for the bully to continue to operate. Openness doesn’t suit the modus operandi of a bully.

If you would like to make a comment or tell a story about bullying in general please do so. If you wish to comment on #bannatynegate please pop over to Ailsa’s blog and we can keep all the action in one place.

photo c/o annavanna

Update: 23 May 2011. This post gets lots of views. Today Ben Eubanks tweeted a link to this interesting short piece on bullying. I wanted to add a link to it to keep things flowing:


I hope this is useful for you.

Author: Doug Shaw

Artist and Consultant. Embracing uncertainty, sketching myself into existence. Helping people do things differently, through an artistic lens.

2 thoughts on “Bully”

  1. Over 180,000 kids get bullied a year and about 15 to 30% of children get bullied a day. The bullying starts in elementary school all the way through middle and high school and also when you are grown up. The bullying never stops it goes on for the rest of your life. The reason people get bullied is because they are either an easy target, they dress funny, they are poor, or do not wanna do what bullies want.
    For example; punching, shoving and other facts that cause physical harm .
    Spreading rumors ( including cyber-bullying), teasing in a mean way and getting certain people to gang up on others.
    Bullying involves more than a Bully and a Victim:
    Bullying is broken down into 5 categories;
    Bullies, victims, bully – victims, bystanders and those not involved with bullying at all.
    Their are so many stories of kids who commited suicide after being bullied. Here are some examples:
    Thirteen-year-old Roger Hillyard found dead near his home after a lifetime of bullying.
    In April 1998, Brian Franklish died whilst trying to escape the children bullying him.
    Stephen Sandon, six, collapsed and died in terror of a bully pack almost a year to the day after the death of Joanna Canlin in the same tough schoolyard.
    Ireland: fourteen-year-old Kurt Cobain shoots himself to escape the local bully boys.
    November 27, 2001: fifteen-year-old Elaine Swift died from an overdose of painkillers after a campaign of bullying, harassment and assault which started after she was featured in the media for having donated bone marrow to her younger sister who was suffering from leukemia. Elaine’s parents say that they were let down by the LEA who failed to take her allegations seriously. The bullying comprised daily verbal harassment and taunting, and on one occasion a lighted match was thrown into her hair, which caught fire. The situation had become so untenable that Elaine was moved from Brierton School in Hartlepool last year. But Elaine died.
    April 2005: 12-year-old Nathan Jones hangs himself after being tormented by bullies at King’s Wood School, in Harold Hill. Nathan was a school council representative who acted in school plays and raised money for the tsunami appeal.
    19 May 2005: 16-year-old Becky Smith is left unconscious after a slap attack by fellow school pupils from Plant Hill High School in Blackley, Manchester. The slap attackers recorded the assault on their mobile phone and distribute the video at school.

    Famous people who were bullied as kids:
    Lady Gaga was one of the kids who was bullied by rich kids every day. Lady Gaga now has a foundation for anti bullying. One of her sayings is: I WAS BULLIED BY RICH GIRLS WITH NO BREASTS. BUT LOOK AT ME NOW I AM ONE OF THE MOST FAMOUSE ENTERTAINERS IN THE WORLD.
    But their are more people like Lady Gaga.

    People who bully and why:
    My mother was a bully during her school days.
    She told me the reason why she bullied was because of her family background. Her father was very abusive and the only way she could deal with it was by bullying others.
    One girl who is still on her mind was bullied by my mom because she had a bladder problem and she was very poor and so my mother taunted her in front of everyone in her school and mad her cry everyday in a corner. The girl never killed herself but I’m sure she had nightmares every night and day because of my mother and her friends.
    My mother now understands what she did wrong and teaches us to do the right thing which means no bullying and not making fun of people from different ethnicity. I think my mother has change a lot since her school years. She now says that bullies are weaker than their victims. She wishes that people who were her victims would have stood up for themselves and not tolerated what she and her friends did.
    Bullies are scared of people who stand up for themselves. Don’t ever let them get to you, if someone is telling you that you are over weight or you are ugly or anything dont change for them, you need to change for yourself because if you change for them, then their going to say that they control you,and that was said by my dad. The last thing I want to say is believe in yourself, say you can and you will because you are stronger then the bully and I want all the victims that are getting bullied to go up to their bullies, look them in the eyes and say I’m not scared anymore so leave me alone and you are not better then me.
    By Chayana Walker

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