Stand Out, Speak Up!

I hope you have all had an amazing week both personally and professionally as we head towards Christmas. I want to dedicate this blog to an article I read recently that affected me deeply. Below is an extract from a news story published online;

A Brisbane mother says her gay 13-year-old son was so badly bullied that he took his own life this week. Tyrone Unsworth was a year 7 student at Aspley State High School, where his mother Amanda claimed he was bullied because of his sexuality.
“He was a really feminine male, he loved fashion, he loved make-up and the boys always picked on him, calling him gay-boy, faggot, fairy; it was a constant thing from Year 5,” Ms Unsworth told News Corp. On social media, Ms Unsworth wrote of her family’s despair and said it was because of the bullies that she would never get to see her “beautiful boy” alive again.

Also, I recently read bullies have now taken it a step further by creating fake Facebook accounts in Tyrone’s name and targeting not only moarners but to Tyrone’s mother as well. In my opinion, this is bullying to the extreme and can’t help wonder how much further they will go. This goes beyond the common schoolyard bullying. This is a case of homophobia as well as harassment, and the saddest part is that it’s cost someone their life.

So, what is bullying? Bullying is a repeated and intentional act towards another person or people, consisting of words and/or actions. As we know, bullying can occur anywhere and anytime, most commonly at school, in the workplace and over the internet. Have a look at these stats;

– About 49% of children in grades 4–12 reported being bullied by other students at school at least once during the past month, whereas 30.8% reported bullying others
– 70.6% of young people say they have seen bullying in their schools
– Only about 20 to 30% of students who are bullied notify adults about the bullying
– 9% of students in grades 6–12 experienced cyberbullying
– 55.2% of LGBT students experienced cyberbullying

I think if we all look back on our lives, most of us can relate to an experience or more where we have felt bullied or harassed by someone. Anyone can be bullied but unfortunately it’s the quiet, sensitive souls that keep to themselves who are the common targets. A bully doesn’t really need a reason either and a simple ‘I don’t know, just cause” is a common response I hear  too often from children when dealing with bullying at work. Bullies thrive on the power and control they feel at the time and yes, many times this is due to the fact they feel powerless the rest of the time, such as in their home life, but this shouldn’t be used as a plausible excuse for their behaviour because children in particular are now smarter beyond their years and exposed to a lot more these days so they know exactly what they’re doing.

I occasionally experienced the average schoolyard bullying in primary school, due to my sensitivity and the fact 90% of my friends were female, which carried on as I entered high school. We all know how high school works and the labelled groups that exist (The gay community can also be summed up exactly like this too) I was obviously no masculine jock and I was one of those kids who thought sport was like the worst subject ever. Some have said they were clear signs I was gay, but as I look back I legitimately never saw this as a possibility. Having a close knit group of friends made the occasional name calling and put downs insignificant  but their was a time in primary school where my experience with one bully turned physical.

I was in grade 4 and a boy who was 2 years older began picking on me with the general teasing and labelled me a ‘sissy’ for reasons unknown. He gradually spent the next 2 months name calling, following and tripping me when I walked past, eventually becoming a daily occurrence. I don’t remember thinking this was a massive issue until one day in particular. He came up to me while on the oval pestering me ‘just cause’ but this time as I attempted to walk away, he grabbed me in a head lock until I was struggling to breath which left me pretty shaken. I then new it was time to speak up and confided in mum about it and if you know my mum, she didn’t waste any time in heading to the school to make a complaint. Within a day the boy was spoken to, I received a sorry and had the pleasure watching him sit in the office during lunch time for the next 2 weeks. I am a very open minded person and although I may see what can motivate someone to bully, I will never condone or understand the choice they make and the satisfaction they feel to hurt, belittle and watch the fear in another human beings eyes. When did kindness and respect for one another become so rare? Why do people seek happiness through other peoples misfortunes?

This leaves the question, how do we stop bullying? Unfortunately, we will never be able to stop it completely. Their is no strict law prohibiting bullying and in schools I now see a less focus on paying the consequences for your own actions and more about guiding them on a journey of self improvement. I’m sorry, but in this case I completely disagree. I see it as a ‘free pass’ and a distraction from what the focus should be. Trust me, children are well aware of this alternative method for discipline and therefore the power that educators and parents now have over our youth today is quite low.

In Tyrone’s case, he is the ideal example of why  the Safe Schools program, aimed at creating safe and supportive school environments for same sex attracted, intersex and gender diverse people by reducing homophobic and transphobic bullying and discrimination in schools. Tyron was an example of an innocent, genuine young boy who did one thing, and that was being himself no matter where he was or who was around and that’s something I never did until later in life. He is an inspiration to so many people because It’s not easy to be ourselves, especially as a 13 year old where life can be quite overwhelming. We are our own worst critics sometimes and in Tyron’s case, the influence over other people’s opinions of him became too much because they influenced the fact that maybe who he was, was wrong and that is heartbreaking to know.

I dedicate this blog to Tyrone. I hope your story helps many others to feel proud and confident with who they are and speak up if they feel they are being targeted or harassed by someone they know. I believe Tyrone’s story may be the start of positive change but in the meantime, we all can help. We can help by simply being their for one another when needed. Care less about the flaws of others and instead focus on being the best version of yourself. Respect one anothers opinions and choices but most of all, be kind. Kindness is something we all have in ourselves and it’s time to be proud of that.

Until next time,

LOVE all, TRUST a few, DO wrong to none ❤



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