Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Voices of the Oppressed - 2

How's my mental health today?

I'm trying to organize my jumbled, racing thoughts.

The questions arising from our movie night still resound. 

Whose are the oppressed voices of today?

The issue of bullying came up in our post-movie discussion. Bullying is in the media spotlight. The voices of the bullied are gaining prominence. The voices of the families of victims who took their own lives to escape their humiliation, pain, and despair are adding to the noise. School boards, principals, and teachers seem to be trying to find a solution. But is the outcry making a difference?

Bullying has spread to cyberspace. Schoolyard bullying is no longer limited to school hours - victims are now under continuous attack through social media networks, texting, and other means of electronic communication.

Are the voices of the oppressed - the victims of bullying being heard? Are they making a real, lasting difference? Apparently not because bullying continues.

Our discussion also touched on the unintentional acts of bullying; bullying perpetrated by people who are totally unaware of the impact their actions may be having on others. If the victims spoke up sooner and louder, would the offending behaviours cease?

What about bullying in families, the workplace, social circles? Is awareness of these issues increasing? Are the voices of victims being heard? Is anyone even listening for them?

Heidi and I both experienced bullying as kids. They are not pleasant memories.

What bothers me more is an experience I had during my training for working in mental health. I was doing a practicum in a crisis treatment facility and the supervising staff put me in a position where my physical presence (I'm a large guy) intimidated patients into complying more readily to staff direction. I didn't like being used as a bully.

When colleagues in another mental health facility expressed their feelings of increased safety when working with me because of my physical presence, I clearly stated my refusal to being used to intimidate the vulnerable people we were there to help.

Have I been a bully? Probably, but not intentionally. Over the years I have made a lot of effort to make people comfortable and safe despite my physical presence. I haven't always been successful.

Are the voices of the victims of bullying making a difference? I haven't noticed any reports that suggest bullying is decreasing.

What about other oppressed people? Where are their voices? What are they telling us?

Among those who dislike oppression 
are many who like to oppress.
- Napoleon Bonaparte

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