Today four men were fined for bullying which caused a beautiful girl to take her own life. You can read the story at The Age.
Brodie Panlock was subjected to verbal and physical workplace bullying. Her colleagues called her fat and ugly, poured fish sauce on her clothes and in her hair, and when she took rat poison in attempt to take her own life but didn’t succeed, they taunted her for not succeeding and encouraged her to take more.
It is heartbreaking to know that human beings have the power to make others feel so worthless to the point they take their own life.
I have been bullied throughout my life, mostly at school. I’ve never forgotten it. I would be called names, teased because of my appearance, I was once stabbed with a protractor in class, and I felt never had many true friends through my school life. The worst thing I felt was the exclusion by other kids. I had no one to sit with at lunchtime – I would sit with another boy who was bullied and isolated, or in the library alone.
Sometimes when I see highschool kids on the train or in the street, I feel intimidated and my mind casts back to the days highschool kids bullied me, even though I finished year 12, 10 years ago.
I have now formed good friendships with a few people from school. One of the best things to happen was a few years back when I sent a boy (who used to tease me with his group of friends) an article I wrote about my illness. He wrote back with the kindest words, apologising for how he treated me, and acknowledging my strength and personality. I valued that so much.
As for bullying in the workplace – it is so hard to address this if you are being bullied. Often people are too scared to do anything about it, so the bullying continues, or the person leaves the workplace, or in Brodie’s case, takes their own life. There needs to be more built into the Workplace Relations Act to deal with bullies so it doesn’t result in suicide.
One thing I don’t understand is the rationale of counselors and mediators who have asked me how I could change MY behaviour to reduce the bullying.
This sort of counseling damaged my self worth just as much as the bullies. It made me question whether I had done something to encourage the bullying behaviour.
If you read this, and have treated someone badly, please stop and think about the impact it is having on that person.
Change your behaviour.
You don’t have to like the person, but you shouldn’t bully them.
If you see someone bullying another person, say something to stop them.
If you’ve bullied someone in the past, apologise to them. It will mean the world to them. Honestly.
It may just save their life.
Edit: This was in The Age today. Heartbreaking.