Friday, March 4, 2011

Bullying Outside of School

Links to Previous entries in this Series:
So far in this series, I've been concentrating on bullying in school but it's important to note that bullying occurs in all kinds of places where people gather including sporting fields, clubs and bars, tertiary education institutes, social and community groups and even virtual (online) groups.

Bullying in Tertiary Institutes
The chances of bullying in universities,TAFES and other further education institutes rises significantly with exposure. If you're attending tertiary education and staying on campus you have a much higher chance of being bullied than someone who only attends part-time.

Even more importantly though, people who study part-time tend to be more professional, more academic and more inclined to want to complete their education in the shortest time possible. They don't have time to "muck up" and they don't have time for anti-social behaviours such as bullying.

I talked earlier in this series about how certain types of people attract bullies and how it doesn't matter if you change schools, the bullies will still find you. This holds true for tetiary education too. If you were bullied at school, the odds are very high that you will be bullied while in tertiary education. Be prepared. Get a job and do tertiary education part-time.

Bullying on the Social Scene
As a general rule, bullying won't occur in social scenarios if;
  • You aren't a regular
  • You don't draw attention to yourself
  • You don't already know people there
Don't be a regular
If you go to the same bar/club regularly or if you return to a place where you've been bullied before, you will be bullied again. It's certain. There are lots of places to hang out. Go for variety and you'll significantly reduce your chances of being bullied.

Don't draw attention to yourself
If the bullies don't notice you, they won't bully you. Don't try to fit in with a bully crowd. You won't. Instead, leave them alone and keep to yourself (and any friends you've pre-arranged to meet).

Wear non-descript clothing. The more outrageous your clothing or your hairstyle, the greater the chances are of you being noticed and bullied. For example; don't turn up in costume unless you are attending a costume party. If you're male, wearing a pink suit is just "asking for trouble".

If you're female, remember that female clothing is often designed to attract attention. Dress appropriately; for example wearing a long flowing dress to a place where everyone else is wearing jeans will attract unwanted attention. Similarly, if you're often picked on because of your figure, then be aware that even though certain clothing is considered fashionable, it may draw the wrong kinds of attention.

Then there's the matter of behavior. The louder you are, the more likely you are to attract attention. If you try to take over anything that is in short supply, such as a billiards/pool table, you may attract attention and if you're attempt to pick up partners, particularly if it's the bully's girlfriend, you're likely to turn the focus onto yourself.

Similar rules apply for "outrageous table behaviour". For example, a male who buys fancy cocktail drinks with various fruit slices straws and other gadgets sticking out of them will draw a lot of attention. I know these drinks seem very tempting but there's a time and place for them. If you want to try one, do it in a dark bar where you're less likely to be noticed.

Don't hang out with known bullies
The people who bullied you in school usually won't suddenly grow up and become friends when school finishes. If they see you outside of school, they're more likely to resume their bullying. For this reason, if you know that there's a particular place where those bullies like to hang out, then don't go there. There are plenty of other clubs and places that you can go to instead.

Unlike school where bullying usually only occurs when teachers aren't looking, social scene bullying can take place anytime. You can't complain to the bartender or bouncers that you are being bullied. They won't take it seriously and they're more inclined to ask you to leave than the bully. Even worse, bar staff will often tell you and the bully to "take it outside", which is an open invitation for the bullies to become physical. On the social scene, the only way to have authorities stop a bully is to call the police - and even then, they won't do anything unless there is already severe and obvious physical damage. In other words, they won't act until it's too late.

The best defense against social bullying is to not be bullied at all. Remember the three rules and your life will be much better.

Bullying in Formal Social Groups
There are two kinds of formal social groups; moderated and unmoderated ones. Groups which involve kids, such as scouts and guides, youth football teams and other youth sporting groups are usually moderated. This means that they have an adult in charge.

Unless the adult is the bully (which does sometimes happen) moderated social groups operate similarly to school groups. Bullying will usually happen away from the sight of the adults. If you report it, you'll probably be brushed off - and the best way to have it dealt with is to either create a scene or ensure that a caring adult sees the bully in action.

Bullying in unmoderated social groups is a different issue entirely. Unmoderated social groups include adult sports clubs (tennis, football etc), Mother's groups and subject orientated groups such as cooking classes, fan clubs and craft clubs.

Once you begin to attract bullies in an unmoderated social group, you have no choice but to leave the group as quickly as possible in order to avoid further damage to your self-esteem. There is nobody to report the bullying to and there is nothing that anyone can do to stop it.

The biggest problem with unmoderated social groups is that the victim often doesn't realize that they are being bullied until they've taken a whole lot of damage. In particular, mother's groups are often sources of rumor-mongering and exclusion. (see this article for more information).

If if feels wrong... get out.

Next Time
I'll be looking at online (internet) bullying.


Anonymous said...

My son has been bullied at school by the same boy for four years. It's never overt, never within earshot of the teachers and methodical. He has even managed to make an art form of rumour-mongering and succeeded in alienating my son and his friends. The level of this boy's manipulation (now age 11) frightens me and in my amateur psychiatric analysis I believe he must have a sadistic streak. Fortunately, the boys have cottoned on and all rekindled their friendships but the bully seems particularly fixated on my son. It saddens me to say this, but the only thing that gives my son comfort is that he is not the ONLY target. Apart from separating the child and putting him into a different form, the school cannot help because there is no evidence... and so it continues. He seeks out my son, and others, on the playground.

On a separate issue: I have contacted you in the past and am thankful for your blog. It has explained many things to me. I am no longer in a relationship with my Aspie (undiagnosed) ex, but we both agreed - after a long break from each other - to have a stab at friendship. I pine; he seems nonplussed. Lately, though, his behaviour pattern has changed and he is not answering my questions (via email) or texts. For example: 'Were you able to get through the ticket hotline" to purchase those tickets? "Do you want to see Biutiful with me on Friday after work?" These are very specific questions. He is dismissive - more so than ever - and it almost feels as if it's deliberate. As if he's angry with me and being spiteful.

Gavin, is it possible this is actually a hint that I should never contact him again? How many overtures should I make before I give up? I just never know how to react. I never know what's right.

Thank you

Anonymous said...

I just wanted to thank you for this blog. I've only recently discovered I'm Aspergers -- though the acknowledgement has been coming for a few years. I spent this morning (early) reading your blog. I will read it frequently.

Anonymous said...

I have started a facebook page called "Aspies Friend Club" where no bullying is allowed. I actually deleted by original facebook page because of bullying. I really want this page to be a place where everyone feels welcome. Please visit!

Anonymous said...

"If you try to take over anything that is in short supply, such as a billiards/pool table, you may attract attention"

In fact, some ways of trying to take over things that are in short supply *are bullying behaviors themselves*.

"The people who bullied you in school usually won't suddenly grow up and become friends when school finishes."

Great point!

Also, don't forget workplace bullying. There's an article on it here: For example, if one of your supervisors or co-workers keeps asking you for dates/sex/etc. even after you told him or her no, that is sexual harassment which is a form of bullying.

Anonymous said...

"You can't complain to the bartender or bouncers that you are being bullied. They won't take it seriously and they're more inclined to ask you to leave than the bully."

In many cases the bouncers do take bullying seriously.

For an example, see which starts off in a bar with a man bullying a woman about her breast size and ends with the bar's bouncer telling the bully to leave.