It was all a little dull really, until this bit:
Where to start? While I accept this might well be empirically correct, it's about as informative as reporting the most prevalent colour of T shirt worn by people who have been bullied. Do boys "handle things in their particular way" or are they just socialised to hide their reactions? Why are relationships more important for girls? Surely relationships should be just as important for boys.
"Our research has shown that in fact there are probably more females bullied then males, probably because males ride it out and they handle things in their particular way.
"The importance of having relationships with others is very, very important to a girl, and we're saying it's those things that are impacted the most, when bullying goes on."
Further on, the article describes the socially isolating effect of bullying on Chrstine O'Leary, a Wesley Mission employee. If girls suffer from this more than boys, does that tell us more about how socially isolated boys are to start with? Does this tell us something about why men score lower on measures of empathy than women?
The report claims that 70% of Australian adults have been bullied as kids, which resonates pretty well with my experience, so I've no reason to question it. Apart from the real need to stop bullying, there is also a need to understand how we are socialising our kids to deal with it here and now - after all it's affecting most of us. Boys are taught to be tough and ignore it, girls are taught to - I don't know, what are girls taught to do? The messages I keep seeing are just that if affects them badly. So I guess they are taught to fall apart. So we raise boys who distance themselves from everyone so that the bullying doesn't hurt so much, and girls who are taught that they are nothing without other people.
This becomes part of who we are and colours our view of personal responsibility. This is where the time honoured tradition of men spouting off about how they handled bullies by fighting back/stoically ignoring/being untouchable or whatever and therefore dismissing those who report bullying as weak, starts. No-one asks what those strategies cost those men. What are the real consequences of "handling things in their particular way"? Is it so universal that we see it as the "normal" traits of men - distant, angry, independent?
This is all mere speculation, but while people like Keith Garner report bullying in such a superficial way, we'll never know. In the meantime, I'll do my best to teach my kids to look out for bullying - I'll try to remember to ask explicitly, occasionally, if there is anyone at school who is being picked on, rather than just thinking about my kids' well-being. And I'll try to work out what the hell is the best way to negotiate being the target without being ripped apart or setting yourself apart.