It was gratifying to see so many people wearing pink to take a public stand against bullying recently, and it made me think how far we have come since I was an apprentice.
The day I started I was introduced to the tradesman who I would be working with. After saying “hello”, he asked me where my tool bag was and to go and get it. As I turned away, he kicked me quite hard in the rear. I turned around and asked, “What was that for?” His reply was: “That’s for what you are going to do wrong today, boy,” and for the next three months I either got a clip around the ears or a kick in the backside. It only stopped when I got the courage to threaten to hit him back.
Unfortunately, it was accepted practice back then to bully apprentices and that went from belittling them in front of other tradies or clients to physical attacks. Nothing was ever said about it, as they genuinely believed it would harden a young bloke up. I know for me there were times I had to force myself to go to work.
Times have changed, but sadly bullying is still far too common.
How do we as employers, parents or friends stop this type of thing? If your employer is constantly putting you down or yelling at you it can be difficult – there are still too many toxic workplaces out there. If it is school mates or university colleagues who make snide and hurtful remarks about you and your appearance online, it needs to be dealt with and quickly.
Social media has a lot to answer for when it comes to bullying, giving people the opportunity to say things online that they would not have the courage to say to anyone’s face. I am constantly amazed at the Facebook trolls who attack people without any thought to the harm their online posts can do.
Fortunately, Pink Shirt Day has raised awareness about bullying and their website has some great resources for workplaces, schools, individuals and communities to work together to stop bullying.
Bullies may think it is just a bit of harmless fun, but remember it is about treating people how you would like to be treated. Collectively, we need to celebrate diversity and promote kindness and inclusiveness.
Murray Chapman, One Mahurangi Manager