Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Victoria faces bullying crisis

Girl devastated as she is bullied by a group of girls
Image: iStock

Trigger Warning: bullying

According to Herald Sun, students in the Australian state of Victoria are facing a bullying crisis.

Bullies told a girl to “f-ing kill yourself” in a viral video. The victim attended Greater Shepparton Senior College.

This isn’t the first incident. Bullying has been a huge issue across the Greater Shepparton area. One parent said:

I freeze every time I get a call from the school because I’m worried something has happened again.

As a result, parents are calling for more schooling options. The local government conducted a survey where 94% of parents said they needed more options in the area.

Cyber – bullying skyrockets during pandemic

Teen gets bullied via text
Image: iStock
Cyber – bullying has exploded across Victoria during lockdowns. Children as young as 12 have been victims. Victorian police have warned that bullying has “…serious consequences in the real world”.

Social media companies have failed to stamp out bullying

This infuriates me. Parents have alerted social media platforms like Instagram and SnapChat about bullying content. Unfortunately, social media companies haven’t acted appropriately. Social media companies haven’t taken harmful content down.

Social media companies need to be held accountable. Governments need to introduce laws holding social media companies responsible for what’s posted. If users flag bullying or illegal content, they should be forced to act. If companies fail, they should be heavily fined at minimum.

 

Bullying becomes discriminatory

Children are facing racism, sexism and homophobia. That really hits me hard.

It’s disheartening. It should be a thing of the past. I really hope that victims of such abuse can find at least one adult that they can trust.

Fighting bullying seems to be a never ending battle. That we are losing.

We need more mental health professionals

Late last year, I wrote about the mental health crisis facing Australian youth. Anxiety, depression, ADD/ ADHD and conduct disorder diagnoses are on the rise.

Just looking through Google, it’s clear to me that Australian schools need more psychologists and/ or social workers.

The Liberal National/ Coalition introduced a program to employ chaplains. Apparently it’s cheaper than employing psychologists or social workers.

The National School Chaplaincy Program is still around, despite controversy  My concern is chaplains’ potential lack of training and education of chaplains, compared to social workers and psychologists. Will chaplains be able to deal with complex mental health issues that children are facing?

While chaplains can attain a Bachelor degree in Social Work or Counselling, they often obtain  Certificate IV in Chaplaincy and Pastoral Care.

In contrast, an Australian social worker needs a Bachelor in Social Work at minimum. The Australian Society of Social Workers then assess aspiring social workers. Some social workers also gain a Master’s degree.

To be a clinical psychologist, the process is even more intense. According to the Australian Psychological Society, students have to complete a Bachelor degree in Psychological Science, plus an extra year for clinical study or an internship.

I’m not trying to disrespect chaplains. They can play a role in helping young people. However, psychologists and social workers can deal with complex social and mental health issues.

It’s time to take bullying seriously. Enough is enough.

If this post has raised any issues for you, feel free to contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14 or http://www.lifeline.org.au

Kids Helpline: 1800 55 1800 or kidshelpline.com.au

Beyond Blue: 1300 22 4636

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Drag Queen Story Hour protester dies

Content warning: bullying and suicide

Last week, University of Queensland’s Liberal National Club member, Wilson Gavin was found dead.

His death has been reported as a suicide.

Drag Queen Story Hour protests

On Sunday, 12 June, University of Queensland’s the Liberal National Club protested Drag QueenStory Hour at the Brisbane SquareLibrary.

The confrontation between drag queen, Diamond Goodrim  and Wilson Gavin, among others got heated. Children who were at the library reportedly got scared and distressed. The Liberal National Club protesters faced backlash over their conduct and timing of the protest. Some of the criticisms were from members of the Liberal/ National Party,

Footage of the protest was taken and posted on social media. The footage featured Gavin at the front of the protest having a heated confrontation with drag queen Diamond Good Rim.

 

I feel for Gavin’s family and friends. I can only imagine what they are going through. Suicide is tragic for everyone who knew the person.Things will never be the same for those left behind.

For a person to take their own lives, it’s highly likely that they were suffering terribly. Mental illness is listed as one of the biggest risk factors for suicide.

At only twenty – one, Gavin was also in the most vulnerable age bracket. While suicide can happen at any age, the age group with one of the highest suicide rate is 15 – 29.

Same – sex marriage campaign

Gavin was a vocal opponent of same – sex marriage in 2017.

LGBTQ+ opponents of same – sex marriage were unfairly accused of ‘betraying’ their own. Some were accused of having ‘internal homophobia’.

The public spat between Liberal staffer, Josh Manuatu and Mamamia founder, Mia Freedman was about just that. Freedman wrote a tweet about Manuatu’s relationship with MP, Eric Abetz and his public opposition to same – sex marriage. She ended the tweet with the rhetorical question if Manuatu had ‘internalised homophobia”.

I was critical of Freedman for that. LGBTQ+ people are bound to have a variety of social and political opinions.

The debate leading up to the postal vote was hard on LGBTQ+ people. Counselling services saw a spike in calls for help. I wonder how many LGBTQ+ people who opposed same – sex marriage also found the debate hard.

 

Conservatives respond

News of Gavin’s death has spread to the U.S. Many people have showed shock and dismay at the news like many Australians have.

Conservative Christian public speaker and author Elizabeth Johnson, a.k.a ‘The Activist Mommy’ wrote a post on her website lamenting Gavin’s death. I find it a bit hypocritical, considering she advocates ex – gay conversion, which has proven to contribute to LGBTQ+ youth suicide.

 

Whatever you think of Gavin’s actions that day, most can agree that what happened afterwards was tragic. It should send a warning to anyone thinking about bullying another person, including online.

 

 

If you are struggling with your mental health, you can contact:

Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636

For LGBTQ+ people, you can  contact Q Life: 1800 184 157 or via their webchat.

If you or anyone you know is in immediate danger, call 000 (or your national emergency number).

Categories
News Opinion/Commentary

Leave Greta Thunberg alone!

On the 1976 album, Alice Goes to Hell, Alice Cooper made a plea: Give the kid a break.

Alice Cooper: Alice goes to hell CD
The title of the sixth song summarises the Greta Thunberg quite well: Give the kid a break!

This summarises how I feel about the treatment of sixteen – year – old Swedish climate change activist, Greta Thunberg.

She gained global attention last year when she did a protest outside her school.

This year, Thunberg initiated the Climate Strike, which saw students from around the world leaving school in order to protest and pressure governments to take action.

Since then, Thunberg has been has been deemed a prophet for some and a ‘brat’ by others.

I have had so many issues surrounding how Thunberg has been treated. Here are a few issues.

Analysis on Thunberg’s mental health

Greta Thunberg’s mental health has been a discussion in the media by both her admirers and critics.

Thunberg has been open about her struggles with depression, obsessive compulsive disorder and mutism. Her mother, former opera singer, Malena Ernman wrote autobiography, Scenes from the Heart where she wrote about Greta’s mental health struggles, including an eating disorder. This was allegedly caused by worry about the state of climate change.

Now, if Greta herself wants to be open about this then, fine. But this has repeatedly been used against Greta ever since.

Being used as a martyr

I get why people are concerned about Thunberg being used as a ‘prophetess’ to the world. She has really been thrown out to the sharks, so to speak.

Some people think this has been quite a deliberate and cynical move by the United Nations and climate change activists. Who would pick on a sixteen- year- old and challenge what she’s saying?

The fact that Thunberg is a child and her mental health hasn’t stop her critics. Or bullies.

Abuse

This is where things get sickening. On the one hand, Thunberg has been infantalised by her critics. On the other hand, she has been repeatedly abused by others.

Much of this has not been called out or condemned. That is despicable, especially from those who repeatedly call for her protection.

Sixteen can be a vulnerable age for anybody. You are still working out who you are, who your friends are, etc.

I am outraged at the abuse Thunberg has received by those in the media. If people are that concerned about Thunberg’s well – being, more of them would be willing t9 condemn her high profile bullies. Where s Andrew Bolt’s outrage over Fox News’ Michael Knowles’ comments. Where is the outrage for former football player, Sam Newman who called her a “brat” and “sh*t” on Twitter? Or outrage at people saying she needs to be slapped? That would be terrifying to someone with a history of severe anxiety and depression, don’t you think?

 

Everyone needs to get off Greta Thunberg’s back. She is a passionate teenager. And she is entitled to those passions. However, she shouldn’t be a martyr by climate change activists, nor be infantalised by critics.  Just leave her alone!

Categories
Pop Culture Reality TV

The Bachelor is accused of promoting bullying

 

I haven’t watched The Bachelor much this year. I only watch it if someone else is or when a repeat is shown on a TV in a public place.  So, I can’t tell you much about who’s who, who’s gone so far, who I think should win, etc, etc.

I was outraged after reading this article. An anonymous writer on Mamamia, a self – confessed former school bully, said that The Bachelor Australia, specifically Cat, Romy and Alisha and their treatment of Tenille, reminded her of her bad behaviour in high school.

What the hell is The Bachelor Australia doing promoting bullying? What are the producers and directors thinking?

Media hypocrisy: reporting on and glorifying bullying

It’s no secret what harm bullying can do; to children, teenagers and adults. Recently, there has been a number of cases exposed in the media of young people taking their own lives after being viciously bullied by school bullies and online. And a show that has peaked with an average of 1.25 million viewers nationwide has the nerve to glorify it and use it for ratings?

The girls accused of bullying have proclaimed that they were taken out of context and has blamed editors. All three have also faced a backlash on social media, some of it which has been vile and abusive (which I don’t condone, either).

Whether the cast, producers, directors or editors are to blame, it doesn’t matter. For some reason, The Bachelor Australia has promoted bullying. That’s not OK. It’s not OK to glorify people (of any gender), being cut down, ostracised or be subjected to other bullying behaviour.

Where does the Australian Communication and Media Authority (ACMA) on this? They are the national media body that oversees compliance in the media and telecommunications industries. Not a blip as far as I’m aware.

What does this say about commercial TV as a whole? Due to international competitors such as streaming services Netflix and Stan and cable networks such as Foxtel, the commercial media industry is struggling to maintain decent audience size.. Channel Ten (now part of Win network and recently bought by US’s CBS), faced the reality of going into administration. I can’t believe in glorifying bullying to get viewers and advertisers. Quite frankly, I don’t think it should be allowed.

 

I guess the most effective revenge is for people not to watch The Bachelor Australia and let their ratings crash. It’s still unsettling how the Australian media industry has allowed it to happen in the first place.

UPDATE

The backlash against Alisha, Cat and Romy has continued. According to Perth Now, Alisha was refused a rose and therefore, exited the show. Fifi Box, Byron Cooke and Brendan Fevola from Melbourne’s Fox FM has cancelled a scheduled interview with Cat with very short notice. Box defended the cancellation saying that she ‘couldn’t in good conscience welcome her [Cat] to the show’.

Let’s hope The Bachelor Australia and other reality shows will get the message that bullying doesn’t pay.

If you are struggling, contact Lifeline on 13 11 14 or Beyond Blue on 1300 224 636. As always, feel free to post contact details of crisis, suicide prevention or other mental health services in your country/ area, feel free to post that 8nformation in the comments. 

Categories
Opinion/Commentary

Bullying and the need for primary and secondary schools to support LGBTQ+ students

 

 

CW: suicide, bullying

Jamel Myles, aged nine, came out as gay to his mother and to his peers at school. Four days later, he was found dead in his Colorado home of a suspected suicide. Bullying was believed to be a contributing factor.

Everyone who knows me knows how strongly I feel about this. Bullying needs to be taken seriously and needs to be dealt with. Interventions need to happen early, and in severe cases, police and social workers from Department of Community Services and other child protection agencies should be involved.

LGBTQ+ youth, harassment and mental health

In 2013, mental health advocacy group, Beyond Blue published a report on LGBTQ+ mental health. It stated that LGBTQ+ people experience higher rates of mental health issues than the general population In 2005, research showed that LGBTQ+ people were approximately four times more likely to experience major depression at some point. Around 80% of LGBTQ+ people reported having experienced homophobic insults in public, most of it which occurred at school.

Data from the National LGBTI Health  Alliance showed concerning trends surrounding wellbeing of LGBTQ+ people. They reported that LGBTI people were five times more likely to attempt suicide and twice more likely to self – harm than non –  LGBTI peers of the same age.

 

Supporting students within and outside the norm in discovering their sexuality

Myles realised he was gay by the time he was nine. While data (at least that I looked at) was vague, it seems that Myles’ discovery was made younger than average.

It makes me wonder, whether the social workers, counsellors, teachers and other staff knew how to support the student, including validating his identity. Would they have doubted that Myles knew his sexuality? Would that have affected the way they would’ve helped him if they were given the chance?

All school staff in primary and high schools should be aware and be prepared to help children questioning their sexuality or coming out at any age. La Trobe University study that was alluded to in the above link tobMamamia article claimed that children experience their onset ofsexual awakening from ten and fourteen. However, the fact is, some don’t fit these averages. Some people who are sixteen, seventeen or eighteen struggle with their sexuality. Some only take their same – sex crush seriously when their older. Some realise ther ‘different’ very early on.

Both of these scenarios should be accepted by teachers, school counsellors andcother staff. I think that claiming that a child either doesn’t know what they are (when they do), or labelling them when they claim they don’t know are usually counter productive.

Creating a safe environment for LGBTQ+ students

Both primary and secondary schools should have policies for LGBTQ+ inclusion. I also tyink it’s important that teachers and other staff are open about this. I find it so heartening that present and former school staff support International Day Against Homophobia, Biphobia and Transphobia (IDAHOBIT) and other LGBTI campaigns. I think it shows that LGBTQ+ youth are a little bit safer.

Teachers and support staff should openly condemn homophobia, bi – phobia, etc in their anti –  bullying programs and policies. Everyone has the right to be safe and supported.

Anyone who needs help, call Lifeline: 13 11 14

Beyond Blue: 1300 224 636. Resources specifically for LGBTQ+ people are available here

As always, feel free to add any links or numbers for services in your country in the comments.

Categories
LGBTQ rights News

Cate Mcgregor changes stance on Safe Schools

 

Cricket commentator and former Lieutenant Colonel, Cate Mcgregor, has denounced and apologised for her opposition to the controversial Safe Schools program last year. Mcgregor had received backlash from LGBTQ media and community organisations after opposing Safe Schools, when she accused the founder Roz Ward as being a ‘Trotskyite’.

Mcgregor claimed that her mind changed after hearing testimonies about how Safe Schools had helped, and possibly saved, transgender children.

She has received some backlash from some people for her stance.

Mcgregor is free to change her mind. And to be honest, I think there was a lot of scaremongering about Safe Schools. Frankly, I think a lot of that was fueled by homophobia and trans – phobia.

I remember finding and reading through the All of Us online. While I didn’t agree with everything that I read (I didn’t see the point in the role – playing of being sixteen and in a same – sex relationship when the children were about thirteen/ fourteen), but, there was good in it. I did like the way that the resource went beyond the  gay/ straight dichotomy.

I also liked the idea of the videos featuring LGBTI teens. I think that would’ve been a good way to tear down stigma and negative stereotypes about LGBTQ+ people. I think there could have been a bit more on those who are questioning and unsure of their orientation.

I hoped that Safe Schools would start a conversation LGBTQ+ students and how they can be supported. I hoped that it would bring assurance to LGBTQ+ students who were being bullied or struggling to accept themselves. I firmly believe that acceptance and non – judgement can’t be merely implied. It needs to be explicit. Negative voices and doubt need to be confirmed wrong. It would be great for teachers, Student Advisers, School Counsellors and other support staff to initiate and welcome discussion, rather than students having to find the courage to initiate it, when, all too often, fear of rejection is all too real.

I liked the way that asexuality was mentioned  in the resources. This could lessen the alienation that so many young asexual people go through.

 

Then, it all went to hell in a  hand basket.  A damning video circulated the internet of a conference with Roz Ward as speaker. It exposed the ‘truth’ about the Safe Schools program; that it wasn’t an anti – bullying program, but a pro – LGBT program. Conservatives lapped this up and there was increasing pressure for State governments to can the program.

Then, during last year’s same – sex marriage debate, the real smear campaign started. Not only were opponents of Safe Schools screaming about ‘gender fluidity’ and ‘penis tucking’, there were also accusations that children, some who were in primary school, were modelling plasticine into vulvas and kids being taught about sex toys and masturbation. The Department of Education and supporters of Safe Schools, including former Australian Medical Association President, Kerryn Phelps. vehemently denied the claims. I had never read anything to suggest such things. To be honest, I can’t help but think that tactic was used by some to imply a link between LGBTQ+ people and paedophilia.

 

Personally, I don’t know whether Safe Schools should be modified, stay 5he same, or just go. But I DO knpw that LGBTQ+ students. They should feel safe, cared for and free from judgement. Victims of homophobia, trans – phobia, etc need to be confident that if they speak out, that they will ne supported and that such behaviour will not be tolerated by anyone.

Critics of Safe Schools keep saying that no child should be bullied. I agree. And LGBTQ+ students should be accepted and supported, a factor that people seem to want to swerve away from.