Bullying is not just on the playground -bBrave

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Bullying is a pressing issue not only among children but also amongst young people, adults and the elderly alike. bBrave, is an organisation which aims to bring forward and ameliorate such cases of abuse.

What is your mission as an organisation? What are you doing to combat the pressing issue of bullying?

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We have 2 core missions: to educate and to support. Bullying does not only bring about physical pain, but may lead to anxiety, and in certain cases depression or even suicide. It should certainly not be taken lightly!

In 2018 we increased our social media presence on facebook and Instagram. We pass on inspirational messages and share real-life stories. People forget bullying is not just a playground occurrence. Youths and other adults face bullying at the workplace. Ostracism (exclusionary behaviour) makes one feel unwanted and unloved. Cyber bullying is proliferating as it seems there are increasingly blurred lines between what is freedom of speech, what is inappropriate and constitutes hate speech, which people conveniently forget is illegal.

Also, we are not only there to help those suffering from bullying, but also in helping those displaying bullying behaviour reform themselves, perhaps diverting their energies into more positive actions. We believe strongly that if we minimise the amount of people perpetrating bullying, the incidence of bullying cases would decrease dramatically.

When one hears about bullying, primary and secondary school settings or situations come to mind. Is bullying only limited to these institutions or does it progress further in life?

Bullying is all about power play, an abuse of an imbalance of strength between two sides, whether physical or otherwise. An older kid with a younger one, or an employer with an employee. You can practically experience bullying in any social environment.

Some managers have come up to us and said that they experienced bullying through being promoted at work, but having resources taken away from them, forcing them to give up and walk away. This is not acceptable.

Bullying can take place within the household in a context of domestic violence. Children that have experienced domestic bullying may be prone to transmitting their anger on others when they are outside their home.

Bullying can likewise take place with the elderly or the disabled. As we have mentioned before, bullying takes strength from an imbalance of power, so in any context of vulnerability, there is a higher risk of abuse.

Do gender and sexuality affect bullying in terms of frequency and intensity?

Like other characteristics, gender and sexuality may be triggering points for abuse. It is easier to pick on somebody who is in the minority. We have thankfully made progress in increased tolerances of minorities, but this hardly means we are there! Nobody has the right to make others unhappy simply because they are different.

Did the rise of technology affect bullying in any way? Has bullying become less physical and verbal and more cyber - or has cyberbullying added on to physical and verbal bullying?

Because social media has gained such increased popularity, we are experiencing some shocking cases of cyberbullying. Some feel ‘immune’ behind a keyboard, and are ready to express themselves in much harsher language than one would in person.

On a daily basis, one can observe hate speech, fake profiles, and coordinated attacks on certain persons or groups. We strongly believe that society needs to adopt better standards in striking a balance between free speech and acceptable behaviour. It is not being suggested that the freedom of speech be weakened, but there are surely better ways of expressing oneself in public.

What is the situation in Malta with regards to bullying?

In Malta we experience bullying like everywhere else. What we observe in the local context is that occasionally bullying behaviour is passed on as ‘acceptable’ because it is committed by somebody in ‘our group’ against the ‘other group’. Bullying is bullying is bullying.

Granted, every action has to be placed in the right context, but we cannot subjectively classify something as acceptable or unacceptable simply based on our sympathies. At times we get the sense that we lack role models in our society…our society deserves better.

bBrave is setting up a stand on the University of Malta’s campus during Mental Health week. What can one do to apply to help out as a volunteer?

Thanks to Fondazzjoni Pippo and the Small Initiatives Scheme administered by the Malta Council for the Voluntary Sector, this year we shall be meeting students on Monday 26th November.

Should students wish to help us on this day, they can email us at info@bbrave.org.mt or PM us on facebook.

On the day, we want students to come and have a chat with us over a coffee, and seek information about bBrave. If they wish, students may enquire on how they could contribute to our mission. There are volunteering opportunities covering a variety of roles with bBrave’s professional team, who work tirelessly during their free time.One can also join bBrave as a member. Membership is open to the general public.

Contact bBrave for further information and help. Do not stay in the shadows, speak up and seek help.

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Written by

Neville Sultana

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Bullying is not just on the playground -bBrave

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