Bullying starts #young and is #endemic. How do we #stop it?

Bullying. How do you defeat it? I was talking to a friend’s child recently, who said that for her it was a fact of life.

It was usual to come out of school in tears. To be told she smelled and ‘had germs’ and to have everyone she became friends with taken aside and told to play with someone else. Is it poor parenting that causes this level of cruelty? Or is it just, as some say, that “Kids will be kids”?

It makes me wonder what kind of kid Harvey Weinstein was. And whether anybody ever tried to make him stop?

All power to Kate Winslet, who said yesterday that when she won her Oscar for The Reader in 2009, she refused to thank Weinstein, despite being told it was in her interests to do so. She never worked for Weinstein again. But “if people aren’t well behaved, why would I thank him?” she said.

The response to the Weinstein case has been astonishing. Women everywhere are hashtagging #metoo. Friends have been in touch to talk about bosses they worked with years ago who made them do things they regretted when they were trying to get a foothold in their industry.

One said, “I saw him in a shop 20 years later and even after all that time I had to walk outside because I had begun to shake”.

This isn’t just a case of one guy in Hollywood using his power to treat women as a personal plaything. This is endemic. In fact, many years ago, #metoo.

Kate Winslet handled it well but very often this happens, not when one has just won an Oscar and is feeling omnipotent, but when one is young and vulnerable and unsure how things are supposed to work. As I listened to that little girl’s pain, I felt at a loss as to how to help. “I just feel so sad inside,” she said. No one should have the power to make you feel like that.

But what can she do? I know of another friend’s daughter who thumped a boy who kept trying to kiss her and she got into no end of trouble, until her dad went into school and set things straight. Perhaps children should shout at the bully? Shame them in front of everyone? But the teachers may again think that the person shouting is at fault. Telling the teacher seems the obvious option. But what about when the teacher’s back is turned? So what can be done? I don’t know but only hope that any child who makes it their mission to make another child’s life a misery gets their comeuppance very soon. The last thing we need in the adult world is another one.