Ending the cycle of bullying
As great as 2013 was, I am looking forward to what 2014 will bring.
This year, I have spoken to so many insightful, intelligent, and all-round wonderful people
Just recently, I spoke with a group of females who left a huge impression on me.
I interviewed a group of five girls (four members of Constance Lake First Nation, one a member of Lac Seul) for SEVEN Nishnawbe Youth Magazine. The girls are working together to create and release anti-bullying videos, and they are building quite a following doing it.
I was impressed with their creativity and how they were able to utilize each group member’s individual talents for their videos, but what left the biggest impression on me were the motives behind the majority of the group’s anti-bullying agenda.
In one way or another, bullying had affected the life of each group member either directly or through the loss of a loved one.
Because of this, these girls banded together and decided to tackle the issue of bullying and are on a mission to end bullying so nobody else has to go through what they went through.
“We want to make people happy,” one of the members said.
These girls aren’t even old enough to get their driver’s licenses yet, and they want to make a difference for the world by spreading awareness of bullying and ultimately ending it.
I am very impressed with their choice to move forward from their personal pains and struggles, and try to help others instead of letting those pains and struggles bring them down.
In reality, bullying is not just limited to elementary schools, it is found in high schools, post-secondary schools, even in the workplace as adults.
Lateral violence, sometimes referred to as workplace bullying, is something that affects a lot of communities and businesses, and it is present in First Nations communities.
Native Women’s Association of Canada (NWAC) has an information package on lateral violence on their website, and it details how it can affect First Nations communities.
Some of the behavioural signs of lateral violence NWAC has listed are sarcasm, bickering, belittling a person’s opinions, gossiping, and exclusion, blaming, backstabbing, mobbing or ganging up on others.
NWAC’s package states that the effects of lateral violence on a person depend on the severity of it. The victim can experience things like sleep disorders, weight loss or gain, moodiness, self-doubt, decreased self-confidence, feelings of worthlessness, forgetfulness, chronic anxiety, depression, and higher absenteeism (not wanting to be at work).
The signs and symptoms of lateral violence remind me of what went on now and then back in elementary school and high school, the same grade levels the anti-bullying group that I interviewed are in.
It saddens me to think of what some young people go through, and it is not surprising that they are at risk of turning to alcoholism or drugs, or wind up dropping out of school in order to deal with or avoid the bullying they face.
When I think of times when I felt bullied in the workplace, I remember one job I had where a coworker did not like me. She made my shifts miserable, so miserable that I eventually stopped going to work. At the time, it wasn’t a big loss since I was still in high school, but imagine being in that same spot when you are an adult and depending on that job to feed yourself and/or your family and keep a roof over your head?
If bullying is something that reaches from the schoolyard as children all the way on up to the workplace as adults, then maybe the Constance Lake group has the right idea in working on eradicating the act of bullying amongst their peers.
Though it is a huge feat to take on, they are not the only youth group fighting the issue. There are many groups out there fighting the same fight. I am so glad that there are youth out there like the Constance Lake girls who want to make the world a better place, but they can’t do it alone.
If we as adults can recognize lateral violence in the workplace and in our communities, and try to stop it and even remind ourselves not to fall into the role of bully, too, then maybe we can join the youth groups like the Constance Lake girls in ending bullying altogether.
“Someone somewhere in time loved me enough to hope that I could have a good life, so now I must at least try to do the same in a way that benefits others and not just myself,” reads a quote used in Equaywuk’s lateral violence information.
I think the quote makes perfect sense when thinking of ending all forms of bullying in general for each new generation to come.
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