Politics - Provincial

A Victim of Bullying Speaks Out

By Lorne Warwick
Published May 29, 2012

I have a confession to make: I'm a survivor of bullying. Educated in the Catholic elementary and secondary high school system, it was common for me to be the target of verbal harassment that questioned my worth as a human being and physical abuse in the form of sudden and explosive slaps to the face, hair-pulling, and books slammed over my head. Needless to say, I was not the only victim of such assaults

It literally took decades to lose my hatred of the teachers, both lay and religious, who perpetrated those acts of violence against me, under the pretext of 'corrective discipline'.

It was those experiences, I suspect, that planted the seeds of what became a life-long suspicion of all institutions, both religious and secular, and a deep, abiding contempt for all who abuse their authority in any arena of human activity.

And so it is with a mixture of fascination, bemusement and contempt that I read about the current outrage being expressed by Catholics and political opportunists (i.e., the Hudak Conservatives) in Ontario over the McGuinty government's insistence in its amended anti-bullying initiative that all school boards, both public and Catholic (the latter of which in fact is public, given that they are taxpayer-funded) permit the use of the term gay-straight alliances if requested by students.

Indeed, no less a church luminary than Toronto Archbishop and Cardinal Thomas Collins has weighed in on the controversy. The frequently red-accoutered prelate, in rhetorical flourishes approaching the hysterical, warns ominously (and with Holocaust overtones):

The cardinal warned other faiths could become targets of the government if the anti-bullying bill becomes law and doesn't allow Catholic schools the right to deal with homophobia in their own ways.

"I would say to people of other faiths and even those who disagree with us on (gay-straight alliances): if this could happen to us it can happen to you in some other area," he said.

"When religious freedom becomes a second-class right, you also will eventually be affected."

Consider us warned, Cardinal Collins. And one more thing: get over your fear of the word 'gay' and try practicing Jesus' command of unconditional love.

Lorne Warwick is a retired high school teacher who spends his time reading, traveling, doing crosswords, volunteering, and becoming increasingly concerned about the state of democracy in Canada.


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By another victim.... (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 14:15:20

Not for being gay but that didn't stop me almost not getting through grade 8. To say this is a sexual orientation issue is so wrong on so many levels I can barely contain my anger towards those who try to make it that. We need exactly what the Catholic Board is proposing, a place for every victim of bullying to gather and a support system that includes everyone equally. I am no expert on the Catholic church but I do know that its morally bankrupt of one battered group to insist on excluding another as it appears these clubs do now.

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By Brandon (registered) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 19:57:03 in reply to Comment 77498

Maybe I'm missing something, but who exactly is "excluded" from a "Gay-Straight alliance"?

This particular issue is all about sexual orientation. The church is freaking out because there will be an officially sanctioned group in the school with the term "GAY" in it. How horrible is that? I mean, it's totally wrong for a man to be interested in another man and the church would never stand for that (boys apparently are okay though and that process is to be facilitated).

There's nothing I love more than seeing an organization take a moral high ground after demonstrating the utmost corruption on a very similar topic.


Comment edited by Brandon on 2012-05-29 19:58:12

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By also a victim (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 15:00:19 in reply to Comment 77498

Wow, I didn't think it was possible to miss the point so spectacularly. I'm not gay and I was bullied at Catholic school, and the bullying culture is deeply rooted, and not allowing gay and straight students to form alliances and call them gay straight alliances is just more grist for the bullying Catholic mill. Pity you can't see that.

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By another victim (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 15:10:18

I did not miss the point at all. I just happen to think that leaving everyone else behind is a far bigger crime than you do. This is not a sexual orientation issue, its a general issue of acceptance. Pity you can't see that

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By who speaks the truth (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 15:21:07

Bullying is entrenched fully in our society at all levels, that is a given. for those who dare to stand up against one of the bullies is usually deemed as aggressive, as with the recent events that happened to myself.

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By the point missed (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 16:15:40

The point missed seems to be that what the author is talking about is systemic abuse from authority figures within the school and not about bullying by his peers. His anger at those adults who abused him is well placed but frankly isn't really something that has to do with anti-bullying legislation coming from the provincial government but rather an unrelated call to abolish the Catholic School Board and possibly have his abusers answer for their criminal behavior. Whether that call will be answered is doubtful but hopefully those practices have long since ceased.

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By who speaks the truth (anonymous) | Posted May 29, 2012 at 17:30:51

rebuttal to by the point missed:

you seem to be very condesending in your reply, I got it fool, however, it is a given that bullying is rampant at every level in our society not just the catholic school board.

You are coming across as a bully, in your reply, get real!

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