I was recently asked whether I thought anti-bullying work is still relevant and important, considering all that is happening in the world today. My answer was a resounding “Yes! This work is still both relevant and important.”
In some respects, our work may arguably be more urgent today than ever before. The three major crises that have garnered nationwide – indeed worldwide attention are: the coronavirus pandemic, a crushed economy, and police brutality.
Anti-bullying work impacts all three.
The coronavirus has resulted in many people being forced to work from home. Parents with children are feeling the added stress of serving as home-schoolers, providing sufficient attention to their children, and managing the stress of dealing with supervisors who may have been workplace bullies and who are now bullying over the internet. This enhanced tension at home may well exacerbate domestic violence – another and very ugly form of bullying.
Domestic violence is often associated with economic downturns, our second component in this perfect storm. One spouse, typically (though not necessarily) the male, who has lost his job due to the impact of the pandemic may now feel inadequate “as a man and former breadwinner.” He may be inclined to project his feelings of inadequacy towards his family, thereby engaging in acts of domestic bullying – which is always wrong and cowardly.
What is commonly referred to as “police brutality,” I have relabeled “police bullying.” As a former police executive with Boston Headquarters, I think I have some qualifications to speak on the matter.
Bullying, at its core, is an abuse of real or perceived power over others perceived to be lacking in power. Society bestows upon police officers considerable street authority to detain, arrest, and in some circumstances exercise deadly force in carrying out the police officer’s duties.
While I believe that most police officers strive to perform their duties ethically and professionally, there are nevertheless those who unabashedly abuse their authority, fearing no consequences. These individuals are bully cops. And we must continue efforts to hold them fully accountable to the law and to the public.
As leaders within the anti-bullying community, we must not take a myopic, narrow-minded view of bullying. We must broaden our conception to understand and be sensitive to issues of police bullying and domestic bullying – whether violent or not.
Once we embrace the depth of bullying, I think for some the challenges of being change agents may prove daunting and overwhelming. But for most of us committed souls, we will feel all the more energized and ready to take up the cause.
Our work was relevant and important yesterday – as it is today. Hopefully, someday anti-bullying work will no longer be relevant and important – which would mean we have accomplished the mission to all but eradicate bullying in all of its manifestations.
But until such day – let us remain steadfast and committed to the cause!
Shenandoah Titus, Esq., CEO & Author
Disclaimer: No communication herein presupposes an attorney/client relationship.