Volume 3, Issue 12, December 2004
BULLYING - WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE
I am sure that there have not been any of us who have either bullied or have been bullied…or have done both. I know growing up as one of the big jocks in high school in the 60s; I contributed to my share of bullying. But back in those days we called it teasing. We had no concept of how destructive we were. When teasing moves to taunting we are all responsible to see it stop.
The latest victim of relentless bullying is Joshua Melo, a 15 year old who hung himself outside of his home. He went to Strathroy District Collegiate Institute. We all have to take some sort of responsibility for this tragic death. I know that sounds pretty strong and some of you are saying that I have crossed a line.
So, answer me this…
Have you ever been a part of or saw someone being bullied and did nothing to stop the bullying?
I will be honest with you…I have been there, on both sides of the taunting…the bully and the bullied. And I am not proud of it. Every single day I have to stop and think about my words and actions and how they affect those around me. It is too easy to tease someone and not realize that sometimes that teasing has become taunting.
Words and actions hurt. Think about pounding a nail into a board. Every time you bully, you pound a nail into someone’s soul. Then you begin to laugh and say that you were just joking. And when the victim gets upset, you say, “Can’t you take a joke?” Or, “I’m sorry, I was just kidding.”
Sorry sometimes does not cut it. Take that same nail out of the board and you leave a big hole. Yes! Words leave scars and those scars do not heal well. Those scars begin to fester and as one nail leads to another and another, those scars build and build until the victim cannot take it any longer and BANG!!! The scars are too deep and the pain unbearable.
We are now well into the Holiday Season, where we say goodwill to all. Where we meet with family and friends, open presents, have some fellowship and for a short time every year, we come together in peace and love.
What the hell happens to use the rest of the year? How do we allow souls like Joshua’s to be so debilitated and then destroyed? Yes, we are all responsible, not necessarily because of our actions, but because of our inactions.
Everyone at Joshua’s school (students and teachers) who knew something was going on and did nothing to stop it should look closely as how they contributed to Joshua’s death. INACTION IS AGREEMENT.
In 1991 a friend of mine hung himself. His name was Paul and he was only 25. This poem was written by Feia Korolevich and was included in my book Best In Life (ISBN#0-921411.55.3). In honour of Joshua Melo, I have changed the name in the poem.
Which one of us can truly say
He understands the pain?
Which one of us can think of Joshua
And not consider blame?
Who among us sitting here
Can say within his heart
That he had done his very best
To play the “friendship” part?
Were there signs we didn’t see?
Were cries for help unheard?
Or did we simply think that he
Knew how to say the word?
Help! Please help me. I am close.
I’m closer every day.
I cannot take this pain. Please help.
Please make it go away.
What do you think he must have felt
When he knew he had no voice?
To speak. To say the words.
To cry for help. The cry.
To ask for answers to his questions
No one will know why.
My heart and my thoughts go out to the Melo family and the entire community who have been touched by this preventable tragedy.
Make a pledge for 2005 and stop bullying and save a life!
Legal Status in Ontario of Psychological Harassment in the Workplace
There is a dangerous misconception on the part of Ontario employers about their responsibilities in dealing with Psychological Harassment in the Workplace. Because Ontario does not - as of yet - have legislation in place dealing with bullying in the workplace there is an impression that nothing need be done about this issue. Nothing could be further from the truth!
Baring the passage of some piece of legislation, the Law on Psychological Harassment in Ontario is based on so-called 'Court Made Law'. The Courts have firmly established the 'duty of care' an employer owes his employees where harassment is concerned. Recent Court decisions on 'bullying on the job' have emphatically raised the bar with respect to this 'duty'!
The Ontario Superior Court of Justice decision in Stamos v Annuity Research and Marketing Services Ltd is a clear example of this trend. Sophia Stamos was by all accounts a good and hardworking employee. She enjoyed her job as a claims adjudicator. That was to change dramatically when the owner decided to hire his uncle!
The uncle had an explosive personality. He also had difficulty dealing with women and frequently called them names such as "bitches". Unfortunately for Sophia he took to harassing her in particular. This harassment included shouting and occasions when he pulled within inches of her face while pointing at her in a threatening manner. Matters came to a head on the day when the uncle kicked open Sophia's office door! She quit!
The Court found that the employer had not done enough to protect his employee from a 'poisoned work environment'. The Judge decided that the employer had an obligation to ascertain just how fearful and helpless Sophia felt at work. So in the end the Judge awarded her generous damages for wrongful dismissal and mental distress.
The lesson for employers is clear. They must make absolutely sure that their employees are not harassed or abused. Complaints can no longer be played down or ignored in the hope that they will simply go away. They must be addressed promptly and effectively.
So what is the status of the Law on Psychological Harassment in the Workplace in Ontario ? Most definitely a case of Caviat Dominus or Employer Beware!
Pierre R. Ouellette Hon.B.A., LL.B.
My name is Jayne Simpson, and I attended the series of workshops at the MTO
building in St. Catharines this fall. I wanted to share with you a success
story about myself. I am Chairperson of the Awards Dinner and Gala for the Week of the Child and Youth Committee of Hamilton, which was held October 22nd…
…there were 437 guests at our Awards Dinner and Gala. I was the host for the evening... It was a bit scary entering the room and seeing how huge it was with all the tables set up etc., then envisioning it full of people. My heart started pounding whenever I thought of it…
But, everything went beautifully. No hitches. I didn’t really feel nervous when I was speaking. …So I was like an old pro at the mike (which I adjusted several
times after various others had to speak) I made sure that all the AV stuff
was working properly…I took control of MY room [just as you instructed] and went for it!! …People were so impressed, particularly the people that I work with, as there were approximately 20 from the Ministry that attended. I think people get accustomed to seeing you in a particular role, so I think they were pleasantly surprised to see me up at the podium directing the program and speaking in front of such a big group. So all in all, it was a great experience, one that I will likely be involved in next year too.
All week I have received congratulations and Wow, you were great!!, so it's
been a good week for me!
Just thought I would share my success with you since I implemented some of
what you were talking about in the workshops.
Take care, best wishes.
Jayne (I'm in Control) Simpson
You can stop bullying by standing up for the victim.
To find out how we can help you or your organization please browse our website
To subscribe to THE CARAVAN please send an email with your name to email@example.com and type SUBSCRIBE as the subject.