Ross Featherston: “At Brighton Grammar boys who are bullied should harden the fuck up”

May 17, 2016

MENTAL HEALTH MELISSA ANDERSON MAY 01. 2016

Bullying: helping your son be the victor, not the victim


As a resilience coach I am adamant that, in any bullying situation, you must own your part of the problem, no matter how small, no matter how unfair it may seem. No one is lily-white and blameless.

As a wise person once said – you must clean up your side of the street.

Earlier this year, I employed a gardener to do some work in our backyard. For 2.5 hours he worked but stopped many times to chat to me. In a short period I heard his life story – his marriage breakup, how his children were not talking to him, how he lost everything, how he had a breakdown, how he doesn’t have many friends, how hard it was to find a girlfriend. His life narrative was all negative and I heard not one moment of self-reflection or the taking of responsibility. He also asked not one question about my life. Such self-absorption may explain a lot.

This gardener was a bore. He was no people magnet.

Importantly, he appeared to take no responsibility for his situation. So, nothing for him will change.

You can only change what you are prepared to acknowledge.

If your son is currently being bullied, in the spirit of cleaning up your side of the street:

  • Is he part of the problem? Even 5%?
  • Is he a whinger, a complainer, self-absorbed, an exaggerator, loose with the truth, a passive doormat, displaying negative body language, an approval addict, a try hard, critical or a bad sport?

Of course, you might say but how can my son clean up his side of the street if he is the target of cruel taunts because he has buck teeth, acne, a disability or a lisp. That’s not his fault.

Of course, it’s not his fault, but owning his small part of the unpleasant problem may be learning to stand up for himself, developing grit, steely self-belief, strong self-esteem, choosing his friends wisely and reminding himself that the bullies are dealing with their own demons and that the problem lies principally with them and not him.

After having been bullied myself for most of high school, it was only when I was brave enough and self-aware enough to ‘own’ my part of the problem that the bullying stopped. I earned respect whilst building self-respect.

Time to own your part, and stop playing the victim.

Be the victor, not the victim.

Brought to you by Brighton Grammar School.

Brighton Grammar is hosting a FREE PARENT SEMINAR featuring Melissa Anderson, exploring the issue of bullying including coping skills for parents and their children. Click here for bookings. 


17 May 2016

An update from the Headmaster of Brighton Grammar
You may be aware of the media coverage today concerning the article, Bullying: helping your son be the victor, not the victim written by Melissa Anderson. 
There have been some strong responses to Melissa’s bullying article in all forms of media today, some of them expressing great distress and others, interest in the views. 
Bullying is an extremely sensitive issue and we understand that. 
As a result of publishing Melissa’s article, it is clear we may have caused upset and distress to some people. We unreservedly apologise for that. 
Out of respect for people who may have been victims of bullying, and in particular for those who were upset by Melissa’s article, we have made the decision to cancel her presentation tomorrow night at our school and will have further discussions with her about today’s response to her views. 
However, I would also like to make it clear that I believe it is a school’s responsibility to be proactive about bullying. As well as having a clearly articulated and publicly available policy on bullying (here), we run many programs for the boys about respectful relationships, bullying and such issues. We also like to provide parents with information about a range of issues through parent seminars, weekly tips in our eNewsletter, information nights and online. 
I apologise for any inconvenience caused by the cancellation of the presentation tomorrow night. 
Please also know I am available and welcome anybody in the community who would like to discuss the issue of bullying with me. Please do not hesitate to contact me directly by email 
Ross Featherston, Headmaster

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