Where do we learn bullying behaviour?
Like many people in the Northern Territory and the world, I was devastated that Dolly decided to leave this physical world because she was being bullied. What made me so sad was that Dolly left the message “Speak Up even if your voice shakes” and yet she chose not to speak up, but rather leave forever. If you are not aware of Dolly, then take the time to find out more about her #DoItForDolly

While I was one who wore blue for Dolly and support the initiative to prevent bullying behaviour, I wonder is it the modern mediums of communication that have exposed this problem. A problem that has been prevalent in our society for many years including our workforce.

We live next to a park, which has a fantastic playground in it. Only last week, as I was walking down the stairs of our elevated home did I hear the words of a young boy who was playing with three other children when he shouted to one of the girls, “…get out of here, you skinny b%*ch” and that made me wonder…where would he learn to speak like that?

During our formative years, we are not responsible for the way that we interpret our world. After all, we listen and accept the words we hear, the behaviour we see, whilst embracing the values of those we live with. It is later in our years that we do become responsible for our responses, our actions/reactions to events in our world. During the formative years, we begin to model those around us, these role models, may be our parents, relatives and those we follow who are of high profile in sport, music, arts, religion and politics to name a few.

So, while we look for solutions to tame bullying behaviour I feel we need to ask those who are bringing up children, our precious cargo, to reflect on the way in which they use their words, respond and behave.

Let’s take for example road rage, many people who are driving these days appear (my observation) as impatient, judgemental, intolerant and use aggressive words and behaviour while driving. It is most likely that in the car is some very precious cargo… their children.

So, while the driver is telling the car in front “to get moving you idiot” “p#ss off, I am not letting you in d*%khead”, bashing the steering wheel and huffing and puffing, they are providing examples of using bullying behaviour and language in front of the precious cargo they have on board.

Being a loyal and supportive supporter of your team that may have your brothers/sisters playing in it is a great family outing and a platform to display bullying behaviour. In 1971 my father did not know what to do with me when he found me yelling out that the team who had just beaten my brother’s football team were in my words “nothing but a bunch of cheats” and the umpire, “what a fool…stupid d*%khead”. Dad was horrified as I only a child and had yelled this out to anyone in earshot as he walked me back to the car parked on the Hahndorf oval.

But where did I learn those words? Where had I seen that sort of behaviour before? Now don’t get me wrong here, my parents were very kind loving people, I never saw them aggressive, except when Dad was driving the car. In those days it was not called road rage. But my Mum would ask my Dad gently to “…calm down Ray let’s just have a nice drive”.

It is from the expressions of those around us that we use, innocent at the time and certainly not always interpreted as bullying behaviour yet loaded with consequential impact for the future.

As adults we need to reflect on the way we use words and voice tone, how we express ourselves, what sayings that can become favourite, yet mean, memes that impact on our world.

Some of your precious cargo will imitate your words and behaviours. Those that you may think as funny, they may begin to learn that tantrums will get them what they want. For them, effectiveness is to use harsh voice tone, strong words and physical expressing of chest out, hands on hips.

They have heard you talk about people who are “plain out and out idiots”. Those of you may be talking to the other adult/s in your home about that the people you work with as “soft wussies” and “never get sh#t done because they complain all day and have days off nonstop”. “It would be too bad if they did get off their bums and actually did some work”, “…and as for that Trump bloke and his stupid hair; God! can you believe what a knob jockey he is.He’s got no idea…” and it will be the tone of voice and the body language that supports the expression.

All of which is absorbed by your precious cargo who then interprets it and uses the methods in a multiple of ways that have an enormous impact.

Are you a bully? Probably not, but at times you may be using bullying behaviour or language. I know I have and I was just the supportive daughter at the football game embarrassing my Dad. Now I have been the road rage driver and I have said in my home unattractive things about others, but it was not until Dolly left her message engraved on my heart that I really thought about using bullying behaviour.

Sometimes this behaviour comes from intolerance of difference. The person who doesn’t quite fit in during their socialising years. When your family express intolerance to difference you may accept those suggestions without questions. You know the ones that identify those who are different. My family used to use the term “new Australians”. I had no idea what that was at the time, but it was not always spoken with accepting or favourable words.

Perhaps families speak of their favourite sports with kindness, yet they don’t tolerate the difference of the opposition. They may find those points of differences as weaknesses not just in sport but in all aspects of life and people.

I love living in my adopted home of the Northern Territory where there is a melting pot of culture, food and colours. I love seeing the children walk down the street holding hands not knowing that one is Greek, the other Chinese and the other one Aboriginal. They have no thoughts of intolerance of difference, but we the adults in their lives impact their thoughts, beliefs and behaviours by our own expression of intolerance to difference, our own use of words and our own behaviour.

So, if we are to take responsibility for those who are subjected to bullying behaviour then let us first look at our own home, at ourselves, take responsibility and create the change.

If you are being impacted by bullying behaviour;
do it for Dolly and “Speak Up even if your voice shakes”