Friday, May 29, 2015


I watched this week's Four Corners and Australian Story programs on ABC1 with considerable interest. On Australian Story recently retired Lieutenant General David Morrison talked about what he had done to tackle sexual harassment in the military. It was inspiring stuff, particularly the YouTube video where he made his views clear. It was followed by Four Corners which coincidentally was also on sexual harassment but also on bullying of young doctors during their hospital training. I watched with some discomfort as I listened to these young people talking about their experiences of bullying. I've never experienced bullying in the workplace and I'm very grateful for that. I certainly had some superiors with whom I lacked an affinity but I never felt any denigration of me or my work.

That said I was the victim of severe bullying as a child at primary school - and not from my fellow students. My bully was a teacher and I had the misfortune to be in classes with this particular teacher for four years. As I listened to these young doctors and the effect bullying had on them I was reliving my own experience to some extent - and, yes, it was confronting at times. Having gone through bullying myself I have to say that any education system which permits bullying, where young practitioners are subjected to such vicious mistreatment, has to change. Quite apart from the personal harm being done to these young doctors themselves, if you allow people, who are so stressed by bullying that they are considering suicide, to treat patients, there is obviously going to be an effect on patient care and possibly safety.

Bullying is a scourge and it is often not taken seriously enough. "Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" we were told when I was a child but words do hurt and the harm they do can be permanent.


Jo said...

Sorry to hear you were bullied. I don't remember much about those days any more although I do remember being slapped in the face by a nun because I gave a very wrong answer. I was all of about 6 at the time. I never much liked any teachers as I recall but I am not sure I was a very nice kid either.

Helen V. said...

I did have some inspiring teachers,too, Jo, but this teacher was not one of them. She just had an irrational dislike for four of us and caused some serious damage with one boy having a nervous breakdown as a result.

Helen V. said...
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