Magazine article The Spectator

Who Will Stand Up to the Bullies of the Anti-Bullying Alliance?

Magazine article The Spectator

Who Will Stand Up to the Bullies of the Anti-Bullying Alliance?

Article excerpt

Do you ever look around you in mystification and wonder what it is that other people do for a living? Our manufacturing industry has deliquesced into nothing; we no longer dig coal or smelt iron, and the clamorous workshops of Asia take care of our textiles. Sure, we market plenty of stuff and there seem to be a lot more lawyers around these days than before - and, what's more, they seem to have single-handedly defied the laws of supply and demand. By which I mean that there are more lawyers per head of population and they charge more. But even the wild profusion of these well-dressed jackals cannot account for the fact that today we have almost full employment, despite losing two million or so manufacturing jobs in the last 15 years. What is everybody doing? How do they earn a crust? I think I've found out.

They are, all of them, staffing anti-bullying hotlines, anti-bullying call centres, anti-bullying help and advice desks. The war against bullying now seems to provide as many jobs as once did those great shipyards on the Tyne and the Clyde. The war against bullying may be an altogether more ectoplasmic conflict than, say, the war against Hitler - although there are, I suppose, parallels. But ectoplasmic or not, there is a clear public appetite for this war. We have become a nation of obsessives and each new obsession needs an industry to provide it with succour. Right now we are obsessed with bullying. And, believe me, we've got our industry.

If you've recently been bullied and you turn to the internet in search of help, you might well be intimidated - bullied, in fact - by the sheer number of organisations dedicated to making you feel a bit better about yourself and punish your oppressor. There is, for example, the Swan Hunter of anti-bullying organisations, the Anti-Bullying Alliance, replete with its £600,000 worth of public funding. Then there's Bullying On Line and Childline's Bullying Index. And there's Kidscape and Antibully.org.uk and the UK National Bullying Advice Line and FullStop2Bullying (mission aim: a world free from bullying), AdviceHQ, Bullyonline (which is an institution pledged to oppose bullying, rather than an ingenious national retail service offering to send you a bully, should you need one), the SCRE, the Safe Schools Coalition, Support4Learning, iVillage . . . oh, listen, you get the picture. There are sackloads of them, all pledged to fighting this war against bullying, this war which some of you may not have realised was actually being fought. Well, it is.

And, as in most wars, we are beginning to notice a degree of mission creep. And, as in most wars, there are squabbles between the allied powers. Just this week the Guardian reported that the Anti-Bullying Alliance had been accused, effectively, of, er, bullying by some of the anti-bullying organisations which do not fall within its remit. (The ABA has responsibility for only 60 - yes, 60 - anti-bullying organisations in the UK.) Apparently a 'senior' member of one of the ABA's member organisations has been bunging down emails dissing Bullying Online, an institution which remains outside the alliance. Jeepers. I won't deter you with more details; suffice to say, it's got really bloody nasty and now the Liberal Democrats are involved.

Bullying, of course, is only one of our current national obsessions. Another one is obesity. And, of course, it was only a matter of time in this frenetic growth industry, before some sharp, entrepreneurial individual linked the two. …

Search by... Author
Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

Oops!

An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.