A tool to help fight bullying and other social injustices

All parents will know just how challenging it can be to raise children. In an increasingly global world with a host of new challenges to deal with especially driven by social media and a whole array of other apps that keep our young ones interconnected and interlinked in more ways than ever, parents can easily lose a grip on what’s healthy for a child and what’s not. Luckily numerous parenting forums are there to help deal with such general issues, offering plenty of good advice.

However, understanding what’s right (the theory) is only part of the problem — the really hard part can be the practice, or execution of a solution. How do I stop a bully from bullying my child? How do I stop my teenage daughter from frequenting bars with her friends (without keeping her locked up at home)? What do I do when my school organises an international trip that I cannot afford (and where all the children are expected to go to)?

These are some of the questions we parents are faced with but it can be really hard to pluck up the courage and speak up without the fear of making things worse or possibly some form of reprisal. Let’s take the example of bullying — what to do?

Option one: speak to the teacher. She can help by keeping an eye on the suspected bully during the classroom, but when she’s not there it’s likely the bully will be even more fired up to antagonise the victim. On top of that, it’s likely the victim will be further ridiculed after the bully finds out that the parents have been in touch with the teacher.

Option two: try to convince the victim to stand up for him/herself. That’s always easier said than done, and expressing too much concern or anxiety when trying to counsel your child can actually make things worse. This approach is usually most effective over a longer period of time if it’s possible to build the child’s confidence up gradually.

Option 3: try to confront the bully and or his/her parents — the nuclear option. The success of this approach will depend greatly on the character of the bully and/or parent. If the bully can be shamed by their actions, he/she may stop though that’s not usually very likely. Likewise, influential parents who are both willing to believe the claim and help (again, not always very likely) could result in a solution.

While all these options can help to some extent, their effectiveness is also greatly influenced by other factors such as the school, its culture, the children and the staff. There is no silver bullet here, and in fact you may have observed some common problems with some of these approaches — they can carry significant risk of further antagonising the bully, they can result in the victim losing respect among his peers due to being a ‘snitch’ or ‘running to mummy’, and the peers can also continue to be intimidated by the bully being afraid to take the victim’s side.

Bullying is just one scenario of the more generic case where it can be extremely difficult for a ‘weak’ individual to fight a ‘strong’ one, even when the ‘weak’ individual is completely in the right and the ‘strong’ one in the wrong. How could this unjust inequality be redressed? If you consider a citizen against a dictator, history shows us that by uniting and starting a revolution it’s possible. The key element to take from this is to unite with the aim of greatly reducing any repercussions, retaliation or revenge. Combine this with the possibilities of anonymization offered to us by technology, and you have a powerful winning combination. That’s where tools such as unite4right come in.

unite4right is a recently developed website that allows a person to start a covert campaign against one or more individuals, where everyone is able to maintain complete anonymity as long as they wish. It allows them to covertly collaborate, share experiences about the problem and jointly agree a plan of action to combat and eventually resolve it.

Whatever you do, if you face a problem such as bullying, abuse from an employer or feeling to obliged to tag along with something you disagree with to fit in with the crowd, I wish you all the strength and courage to put a stop to it.