Stop the Excuses!

by Sarah Goldsmith

Anyone who knows me will be aware of how much I despise bullying. Making someone feel pain, anxiety and hatred towards themselves is a completely alien concept to me. Why do bullies feel the need to go out of their way to destroy another person, be it with physical violence or verbal assault?

But what I also loathe is the prevalence of people who make excuses for the bullies and their loathsome behaviour. Time and again, I have heard people (including the bullies), justifying their actions with weak and feeble reasons:

1. I didn’t know it was wrong.

2. It was just a bit of fun.

3. I had a tough childhood.

4. I just wanted to be friends but didn’t know how to get your attention.

5. I didn’t win a colouring competition when I was five and it’s messed with my head.

6. I was bullied too.

7. My goldfish died when I was little and I never got over it.

Now, I appreciate that some things can have a devastating impact on a person and how they perform in life, but it does not give carte blanche to make someone else’s life a living hell. We can all look back at a point in our life that was truly horrendous, something that was tinged with heartache and pain. Does that mean that we all go out into the world and take that pain out on someone, be it a stranger, friend or relative, making them feel the same desperation and agony? Does that mean we have no control over ourselves and must therefore follow the path to Bullyville? Of course not!

We choose how to behave, we choose how to act. Bullies choose to bully, just the same that other people choose not to.

The school bully makes an active decision to bully, they choose which kid to pick on.

The office bully makes an active decision to bully, they choose to tell a colleague that they are ugly/fat/stupid.

The homophobic bully makes an active decision to bully, they choose to emit their prejudice.

The domestic abuser makes an active decision to bully, they choose to hit their partner or verbally abuse them.

The racist bully makes the active decision to bully, they choose to spew their bigoted venom.

And the list goes on.

Should we excuse these people? No.

Bullies should be denied the luxury of hiding behind whatever trauma they believe caused them to behave in this way. Bullies need to face up to their responsibilities, rather than fall back on a lazy excuse.

Life is hard, and yes, some have it a lot harder than others. But why make it worse by choosing to bully? It’s a lose-lose situation because neither side can be happy. So make the right decision, choose to stop excusing bullying, choose to stop bullying.