Put an end to bullying by talking about it

OBJECT OF SCORN: Novak became a victim of cruel online jokes for her slow speech and plastic appearance while presenting at this year's Oscars.


    Apr 23, 2014

    Put an end to bullying by talking about it

    SHE is 81. Like some actresses, she has had plastic surgery. Last year, she was honoured at the Cannes Film Festival where she was greeted with a standing ovation. On March 2, she presented an award at the Oscars with the actor of the moment, Matthew McConaughey.

    She fasted for three days to look her best. Just before the award presentation, she took a relaxation pill.

    The result on stage was not good. Her speech was halting. But nothing could have prepared her for the mockery. She would be too embarrassed to leave her house after becoming the butt of online ridicule and jokes about her slow speech and rigid appearance.

    Real estate tycoon Donald Trump tweeted that she should "sue her plastic surgeon". This tweet went viral. Last week, she decided to "address the elephant in the room" publicly.

    She is veteran actress Kim Novak, best known for starring in Alfred Hitchcock's Vertigo. The elephant in the room may be her admission of what she has done to her face.

    The bigger elephant, however, is the need to stand up to the cruelty. Standing up to the bullies of the world.

    Just this month, Singapore's Coalition Against Bully for Children and Youth (CABCY) reported the shocking fact that one in eight children between ages seven and 16 is bullied on a weekly basis.

    In 2012, Microsoft released results of a worldwide survey naming Singapore as one of the top-ranked countries where cyber-bullying is most pervasive. Last month, Singapore outlawed cyber-bullying as part of a new Protection from Harassment Act. The offence now carries a punishment comparable to that for stalking and sexual harassment.

    As a scrawny student, I was bullied.

    As a newly commissioned officer in the army, I went through "orientation" by senior officers. What is sad is our acceptance of the cruelty as a rite of passage, and our silence when we see others going through the horror.

    I have never really forgiven myself for not speaking up.

    When there is cruelty to anyone who is powerless to fight back, there is bullying. It takes awareness and courage to break any pattern of bullying in homes, schools and workplaces.

    Bravery against bullying is reinforced when a person does not feel alone. CABCY has published an animated film that depicts a bullied child who is too afraid to talk about the bullying because she thinks it could become worse. "If I just keep quiet, maybe it will go away," the child says.

    In the video, bullies throw things at the child, steal her lunch and call her names. "Is it my fault?" the child asks.

    As part of a campaign called Share It To End It, the film has been shared on Facebook more than 30,000 times since it was launched two weeks ago. It shortens by a millisecond each time it is shared and will disappear after it is circulated 100,000 times.

    A powerful metaphor for how we can end bullying by sharing experiences and talking about it.


    The writer is a film-maker and life coach. He blogs at danielyunhx.com