We all need to take steps to stop bullying

The recent tragic death of Amy “Dolly” Everett has shone a spotlight on a insidious disease in society – bullying.

It is a disease that has been rife in society for many years. While this opinion piece refers to it as ‘insidious’, perhaps the terminology may need to be reconsidered in modern day society. The definition of insidious “is proceeding in a gradual, subtle way, but with very harmful effects.” Well the latter is correct - there are very harmful effects of bullying, but such behaviour is no longer ‘gradual or subtle.’ Bullying in the 21st century has expanded its reach through all age groups and played out in an often very public way through social media.

There are the insidious (subtle) bullying actions – private messages both verbal and written – delivered to undermine the confidence and sense of self worth of an individual. But the more blatantly obvious, and very public forms of bullying, are infiltrating everyday life through social media.  Bullying, which more often than not, was once experienced in the playground and workplace, has now made its way into the safe confines of an individual’s home. There is no escape and a person can feel hopeless and helpless.

Many people have embraced the opportunity to openly speak their mind, but sadly they are also using this form of communication to speak without consideration of others. Offensive and opinionated criticism is almost commonplace in public forums. You would be hard pressed to scroll through your Facebook, Twitter, Instagram or other social media account without finding someone who has used it to attack, denigrate or criticise another.

Behind the virtual anonymity of the keyboard there are people who find great power but lose compassion.This level of opinion, without filter or consideration of others, is an example of poor human interaction, but a behaviour none-the-less that makes some others think they too can use this outlet to attack and criticise. Often this poor example of behaviour can influence the very young and impressionable and the groundwork is set for yet more bullying and another thug moving up through the ranks of society.

Dolly’s parents are working to establish a trust to raise awareness of bullying. We all need to become more aware of bullying behaviour, open the lines of communication with our children and provide the guidance and direction necessary regardless of whether our loved one is the bully or the bullied.