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Posts Tagged ‘bullying’

Wow. What a whirlwind of accusations and revelations we have been treated to in the last 24 hours. What with Andrew Rawnsley ’s allegations that Gordon Brown is prone to nasty hissy fits, followed by the extraordinary remarks of the boss of the ‘National Bullying Helpline’ indicating that Downing Street staff had called for help and all the attendant twittering and analysis, it is hard to know where to start.

Issues raised:

Character of PM, workplace bullying, breach of confidentiality of callers to helpline, potential dodgy dealings of said helpline, poor journalistic practices by BBC who ‘broke’ helpline story.

My thoughts:

GB’s fiery temper has not been a secret (see Private Eye). Is he a bully or ‘demanding’ and ‘passionate’? Depends if you believe the journo or the spin. At this stage I don’t suppose we will ever get a clear picture. Obviously workplace bullying is vile but there are many vile practices that take place in politics that wouldn’t be tolerated elsewhere. Witness jeering and sneering of MPs in the House of Commons, hardly ideal workplace practice. It’s also interesting to contrast the attempts of Mandelson on TV yesterday to spin GB’s ‘volcanic’ behaviour into something admirable with attempts to portray him as a romantic family man.

The weighing in of Christine Pratt of the National Bullying Helpline is bizarre and disgraceful, in my opinion. This by the Guardian on Ms Pratt and the NBH makes interesting reading and the twittersphere is full of murky ‘facts’ about the dubious nature of their charitable status and conflicts with for profit services. But even if we disregard all that and take her statement at face value (that she was so angered by Downing Street denials she had to speak up), the shocking betrayal of confidentiality beggars belief. One board member has resigned over it, and Ann Widdecombe (a NBH patron) has criticised her actions, and rightly so. She has damaged the relationship between agencies who seek to address bullying issues and those they seek to help, and for what? You have to kind of consider John Prescott’s theory that ‘lt’s all been a publicity stunt for her company’ since she is all over the news media today and of course now Nick Clegg and David Cameron are weighing in, calling for an enquiry amongst other things. Urgh. And they wonder why the electorate are turned off by politics.

It’s interesting that all this should come up because I was thinking of writing something on bullying after having read this blog post about how we should talk to our children about dealing with bullies. The advice tends to be to ‘talk to a trusted adult’, something that I have said to my own daughter when she tells me soandso doing suchandsuch in the playground. The sticky part is how do they know who to trust? Often simply ‘telling the teacher’ can be seen as telling tales and young children may not always be able to articulate what happened clearly enough that the teacher realises the seriousness of what is going on. As for parents, it seems hard to get a realistic picture of what is happening at school with often only a garbled child’s version of events to go on. This makes it very hard to know when and how to speak up on your child’s behalf.

Obviously, communication is key and I try to regularly talk to my children about playground incidents, good and bad. For the school’s part, one key to combating bullying is for teachers to develop a relationship of trust with their pupils as well as a sense of community in the classroom. In this kind of environment, getting to the truth of potential bullying episodes is going to be an easier task.

Its not like bullying is confined to the younger generation though and it seems dealing with it doesn’t get any easier either. With workplace bullying for example, who can you trust? The betrayal demonstrated by the NBH is hardly going to help the situation, is it? It’s also a shame that the electorate won’t get a realistic picture of what is or was going on in Gordon Brown’s office now the warring parties of journalists and spin doctors are muddying the waters. I suspect that bullying of one kind or another is endemic in politics. It makes me want to send the whole pack of them to the Headteacher’s office.

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