OPINION: Has bullying helped make me who I am?
BACK in the day, we thought a bully was someone who beat you up for your lunch money. These days the internet is full of articles on workplace bullying, schoolyard bullying and cyber-space bullying.
It can take the form of physical, verbal or psychological assault on a person. The Oxford English Dictionary describes a bully as "A person who uses strength or influence to harm or intimidate those who are weaker''.
I have recently been participating in an ABC Open 500-word project where you relate tales of bullying in your life. It made me think about my early experiences.
When I was a boy I was bullied by three brothers until I stood up to them and beat the hell out of the biggest lad. I was shamed into it when my dad saw me running from them one day.
I was also menaced by one kid who would jump out and threaten me as I walked past his house.
It stopped one day when I was walking my grandmother's Bedlington terrier and it objected when he raised his fists to me.
He was always pleasant to me after that.
My dad was strict when we were kids, giving us a slap on the bum or the back of the legs when we were naughty.
The local Bobbies (police) would give us a clip around the ear when we played up.
They would escort us home where we would collect another one from dad.
Our teachers used to give us the cane or the slipper for various misdemeanours, or because they just didn't like the look we gave them.
We were often given the choice of punishment on the palms of the hands or the backside.
In my first job at a local newspaper the typesetters used to enjoy menacing us copy runners from the sub-editors' office.
I was also bullied by a tradesman when I was an apprentice in the building trade. Every apprentice I knew was bullied.
Some of these people were considered disciplinarians at the time. Would they now be considered bullies?
Should I consider myself lucky for the tough love that moulded my character; made me the man I am today?
Or should I feel aggrieved at the amount of bullying I suffered?