Justin Bieber isn't someone I'd usually associate with shedding light on the insidious issue of schoolyard bullying. I'd assumed he was a teenager being manipulated and exploited by greedy entertainment types determined to get what they could from his popularity before he got used up and spat out without ceremony. However, it appears I've been proven wrong and he's highlighted at a concert in Melbourne, Australia that he's prepared to take a very public stand on an issue that has such a damaging negative effect on so many children.
Bieber heard about a boy in Australia, Casey Heynes, who'd been the target of serial bullying at school for far too many years. The bullies had taken a video of one of the episodes, presumable to enjoy later. In the clip, we see Casey being harassed by the bullies, no onlookers supporting him, and he snaps.
Heynes was invited to meet Bieber and appear on stage with him. It's interesting how the tables have turned. The target has received worldwide acclaim, been interviewed and appeared on stage with Justin Bieber. The bullies? I wonder what has happened with them ...
Bieber later reveals that he had been bullied at school. It is well documented that serial bullying at school can have a negative impact for life. The target rarely achieves their expected grades, and this can continue for life. As an adult, the person who has been bullied at school can have flashbacks, and doubt their ability to achieve. The brain goes into defensive mode and is simply unable to function as smoothly as it could.
I wouldn't expect Bieber to analyse or articulate the complexities of serial bullying, but I'm so grateful for him using his extremely high profile to highlight the issue.
Maybe, just maybe those in power in the education system will stop, think and adopt, across the board, one of the outstanding programmes that educates everyone to be aware of schoolyard bullying, to acknowledge that it is OUR problem. To accept that together we need to tackle bullying, including every person who steps into the schoolyard, from the cleaners, canteen staff, librarians, administrative staff and teachers, but crucially the student bystanders. We need to teach the Casey's in our communities how to respond effectively and assertively at the first instance of bullying, and to get the onlookers involved to prevent recurrent episodes.
Right now, I'm eating Humble Pie. Justin Bieber certainly appears to be much more than I gave him credit for, and with all the bad and sad news this
week, month, year, I'm grateful.
Thankyou Corey for sharing this clip with me.
Further information on bullying at school here. For schools, teachers and other interested parties: CASSE (Creating a Safe, Supportive Environment - link here) has an inexpensive conference in May 2011 in Melbourne, link here. Another reputable programme by Twemlow, Sacco and Twemlow here.