Bullying and Bystanders



We urge children who are being bullied, to tell someone. Tell a parent, tell a teacher, tell who ever cares for you. We also tell children to stand up for their friends if they are being bullied, to have their back, and to tell the truth. All of these are easier said than done, but are crucial life lessons to learn. The concept of ‘bystanders’, who stand to the side and do nothing but allow the bullying to occur, is one that has had catastrophic consequences in world history. We need only learn about the Holocaust to acknowledge this.

But what about when we are adults? Is bullying any less of an issue, or is it just as rife but under different guises, and never discussed?

A definition of bullying is intending to hurt someone, repeatedly, and it can be emotional or physical. Kids often keep quiet for fear that it will simply aggravate the aggressor, and because they believe that they will therefore suffer further for it. But is it any different for adults? Do we ever really practise what we preach?

A new term begins in a couple of weeks, and I expect that there are children out there who are dreading the return to school. Children who know that there is a group of peers, or perhaps just one in particular, with a whole bunch of negligent bystanders, waiting for them in the playground. These children will be on edge, simply waiting for the bully to hurt them, whether with insults, or by lying about them, laughing at them, or hurting them physically.

And I am willing to bet that there are adults too in that exact same position. Fully grown adults who are keeping their heads down, keeping their mouths shut, and trying not to aggravate the aggressor.

Schools always quote bullying statistics but, for the people being bullied, it constitutes 100% of their life. If you are being bullied, then try to speak out. If you are the negligent bystander, then try to be braver. And if you are the bully, then shame on you.




Local Parking Charges

I popped into Southsea last week for the first time in a while and parked, as I usually would, in Waitrose. For as long as I can remember, it’s been £1 for a minimum stay, or free if you shopped in the store.

Much as it makes me sound like a total tightwad, I was shocked to be charged £2.50 after a 40 min stay, because I’d only spent £8. It transpires that you now need to spend over a tenner to get free parking – otherwise, according to John Lewis, it’s not worth their operating the car-park. Even the person operating the barrier looked embarrassed to impart this obvious twaddle. After all, it’s operated just fine for the past two decades so I suspect the honest response is rather more simple: they’d like to make more cash from it. End of.


Small World

I’d like to thank everyone who contacted me about the coincidences column that I wrote. Several people emailed with fascinating tales of complex coincidence, following my piece about the Jungian concept of synchronicity.

I had my own experience of coincidence on holiday this year when we bumped into good friends whilst in deepest, darkest Cornwall, which had me thinking about ‘small world’ clichés.

I remember once, a long time ago, bumping into my English teacher whilst I was at a restaurant in Rouen, France, and also being stood behind two girls from my school in the queue for Space Mountain in Florida. If you have an example of small world coincidence then please do contact me, I’d be fascinated to hear.




First published in The Portsmouth News, Saturday 20th August 2016



2 thoughts on “Bullying and Bystanders

  1. Yes! I was in a B and B in Galway with my mother and sister. In the breakfast room with an older couple, we struck up conversation with our muesli-mates and discovered that they were from the same suburb of Kansas City as me, having attended schools in the same school district where my children attended and where I taught, back when the district only had one high school (we now have five). Such fun!

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