Community awareness takes the punch out of bullying
USAG DAEGU--Someone once said, "People don't stop being bullies when they grow up. They just dress differently to fool you." While these words may generate a chuckle, the sad truth is that even as this story is being read, somewhere out there someone is suffering at the hands of a bully. Regardless of how you define bullying, as harassment, assault or hazing, it is a behavior that is carried out by people of all ages, and from all walks of life. It takes place in communities everywhere, including the military. It is behavior that is never acceptable.
According to Carmen Ortiz, Family Advocacy Program (FAP) Exceptional Family Member Program (EFMP) Specialist, ACS, Camp Henry, bullying is caused by many reasons.
"Children participate in bullying due to their own problems, and they use it to express negative emotions like anger, and frustration," Ortiz said. "Notably, when Soldiers are wrapped up in their troops, their own kids can sometimes feel neglected at home. Then bullying becomes a way of being noticed. In the older age groups, people become targets for bullying for irrational reasons -- such as their difference in race, sex and religion."
Ortiz added that no matter why and where hazing occurs, it is connected with many bad influences.
"Victims go through depression, periods of low self esteem, and social difficulties. In other words, they have to live with the wounded heart and fear of society long after bullying, or forever. Bullying is more than a mental disease. In a worst case, someone could commit suicide. We call this 'bullycide'."
Adding to the expert comments made by Ortiz, Paul Smaw, Sexual Assault Coordinator, and Equal Employment Opportunity Counselor, USAG Daegu, stated, "The military is in a more complicated situation when it comes to bullying. The military has a chain of command. Depending on the nature of the case, different departments will handle them, and punishment may also differ from command to command. However, an absolute truth is there is zero tolerance for bullying-- wherever it is."
Smaw emphasized awareness through education. It is why he leads frequent training. He also conducts campaign through diverse media. He suggested turning to the chaplain or the unit SHARP specialist as an outlet-- if victims don't want anyone to know of their personal issue.
Throughout the USAG Daegu and Area IV community, leaders are constantly seeking ways to rid the community of any and all forms of bullying. Offering his perspective, Capt. Alexander H. Raggio, Provost Marshall Officer, USAG Daegu said, "If you are, or have been a victim of bullying, contacting the military police or notifying your chain of command is a good place to turn for help." He then added, "It's a major priority for us to prevent bad things from happening, and to punish people who do them. When someone violates the UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice), the commander will take action immediately. Perpetrators will then receive penalties that may range from a warning and extra duty, to losing their rank and their career."
A commitment by Area IV officials is to try and create a bullying-free environment at the command level. "FAP currently has a partnership with the school, as well as Child and Youth Services. They lead an activity ("How to be Bully Free") that encourages children to talk about bullying and prevention. Additionally, some groups and parents can take workshops. Children believe everything parents say, and parents are their first teachers and models," stated Ortiz.
According to Capt. Raggio, the solution for eradicating bullying is simple; individuals should address their actions. "If you don't report in fear of reprisal, it allows the perpetrator to go out and do it again." he said.
The lesson here is people have to face the result of their actions which harm human dignity and rights. Besides, if you witness a bullying scene, you must raise voices for victims. Although you do not participate in bullying, to remain a spectator means accepting bullying. Your family members and neighbors could be one of victims. Again, bullying is indefensible, and there is no room for bullying in Area IV.