Don't be a bully in trying to stop bullying, says author
AUTHOR and anti-violence campaigner Karen Clarke wants us to consider bullying in a different light in order to stamp it out.
Yesterday was the National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence: a time when schools across the nation, including many from the Sunshine Coast, are asked to take a stand and say "no way” to bullying and violence.
Karen, the Sunshine Coast-based author of From Bullied to Brilliant, said after years of travelling the world and studying bullies, victims and their behaviour, she felt attitudes needed to change.
"Currently, in America, they are looking at fining and sending parents to prison if their child is found to be a persistent bully,” she said.
"Breaking up the family and placing extra financial pressure on them, what would that achieve?”
Karen said the concept of anti-bullying was also flawed.
"It is kind of an oxymoron because to be against bullying, you become a bully to fight bullying,” she said.
"You are forming an opposition to someone or something, then imposing your will on it.”
Karen said when people talked about these complex issues, they saw themselves in opposing camps - a sort of good guys and bad guys.
"I don't like the idea that we are in a battle,” she said.
The main issue was people not having enough confidence and self-esteem to deal with the pressures of life.
"Bullying is not born in a bubble,” Karen said.
"There is a reason it exists.”
In her book, Karen sheds light on the causes of bullying and how to end it.
She said the book also aimed to help people who were capable of bullying identify their problems and overcome their insecurities.
"I hope From Bullied to Brilliant will help stop the cycle of dominance and intimidation,” she said. "I want to help bullies and victims learn how to rediscover their strength and purpose and find hope and self-acceptance.”
Her inspiration for the book came from her experiences as a child, teenager and young adult.
"When I was 15, my father packed up the family and moved to west Africa,” Karen said.
"I didn't speak the language and had no friends, so I was a fairly easy target in school.”
After spending some time wallowing in misery, Karen decided there was a need for a change.
"I quickly learnt the language, made friends and began to enjoy life,” she said. "Now I look back on those days as some of the best I ever had.”
After publishing the book in 2015, Karen travelled Australia and the world spreading her message. In places such as Dubai and Singapore, she has become a regular guest on radio and television whenever discussions turn to bullying.
"Violence and bullying have no limits - no boundaries,” she said. "It pervades our sport, entertainment, business, politics, religion and, more importantly, our relationships.”
From her home in the foothills of Mount Ninderry, Karen is putting the final touches on a coaching program for schools, aimed at educating the educators.
"The program is a professional development training for educators, so they can learn how to identify problems,” she said.
"It will help to pinpoint students who are struggling and how best to support them.
"This will hopefully give all students the best opportunity to learn how to flourish and grow at school.”
To buy the book or to discuss the program, Karen can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.
THE March 15 National Day of Action against Bullying and Violence was an opportunity for schools to help deliver a powerful message that bullying and violence are never OK.
The annual NDA helps to reignite the national conversation about bullying prevention and an opportunity for schools to showcase their anti-bullying strategies.