I always remember my Nan saying, “Anyone who has the time and energy to make another person miserable isn’t gardening enough”, writes Lynne Allbutt.
It’s an astute and timeless observation.
This week is Anti Bullying Week.
The nationwide event is organised by the Anti-Bullying Alliance to raise awareness of the issue of bullying among children, especially in schools, and is supported here in Wales by the Welsh Government.
Children of all ages, as well as parents, are encouraged to get involved in the event and take part in activities that will help to shine a light on the problem of bullying and to find ways to help resolve the issue.
‘Reach Out’ has been chosen as the theme of Anti-Bullying Week this year, and adults and children are encouraged to wear odd socks to celebrate what makes us all unique.
As a teenager I was badly bullied (as if you can be ‘satisfactorily’ bullied) in school.
Twelve years ago, those difficult days contributed to me becoming an Ambassador for the Welsh arm of BeatBullying.
I was involved in fronting several campaigns with Joe Calzaghe and Jamie Baulch, who were both bullied and ‘teased’ respectively during their school days.
I have spoken about it a lot publicly in the hope of making some sort of difference by encouraging those being bullied to be brave and ‘reach out’.
One of the (many) awful things about bullies is that the fear and misery they instil in others often results in repression and a fear of speaking out.
Most bullies rely on this ‘silence’ to be able to maintain their abuse.
We can change that.
And of course, whilst Anti Bullying Week is aimed at children and the school environment in particular, let’s not forget that bullying can be encountered at any age and in any environment – and is always completely and totally unacceptable.
As the Anti-Bullying Alliances’ call to action states:
‘Bullying affects millions of lives and can leave us feeling hopeless. But it doesn’t have to be this way. If we challenge it, we can change it. And it starts by reaching out.’
Whether it’s in school, at home, in work, in the community or online, let’s reach out and show each other the support we need.
Reach out to someone you trust if you need to talk. Reach out to someone you know is being bullied.
Reach out and consider a new approach.
And it doesn’t stop with young people.
From teachers to parents and influencers to politicians, we all have a responsibility to help each other reach out. Together, let’s be the change we want to see.
Reflect on our own behaviour, set positive examples and create kinder communities. It takes courage, but it can change lives.
So, this Anti-Bullying Week, let’s come together and reach out to stop bullying.’
So, if you are being bullied – at any level – please reach out, and if you are bullying anyone, or making anyone miserable – please do some more gardening.