Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Op-Ed: How to Stop Bullying

David v. Goliath
This opinion-editorial addresses how to stop bullying. At some points in our lives, we will encounter bullying in some shape or form. We will be bullied, know someone that's bullied, watch as someone is bullied, or be the bully him or herself. This is the first of three articles addressing the subject and how to stop it.

I think my worst experience of being bullied was my dealings with the City of Baldwin Park - namely the City Attorney Robert Nactionales-Tafoya and the Chief of Police Michael Taylor, and Mayor Manuel Lozano. Anyone following this blog will know that the City used its power to arrest me, jail me, file a TRO against me, defame me, kick me out of the park (twice), and exact abusive litigation tactics against me. Despite it all, I still prevailed.

This all happened when I was in my early thirties, and I point that out because I want my boxing high school students to know: just because you get older doesn't mean people won't stop trying to bully you.

The Oxford English Dictionary defines bullying clearly: "A person coercing others by fear - persecute or oppress by force or threats." Now isn't that what Tafoya, Taylor, and Lozano attempted to do to me as a free citizen of America.

Here are a few more instances that bullying doesn't end just because you become an adult. When I lived in New Zealand, a NZ Art Festival Business Manager, Denise Brennock, would attempt to scream and belittle me whenever she made a mistake. I would have to tell her: "Hey, that's not right. If you want to tell me I made a mistake, you need to be more constructive about it." She would shut down the conversation and say, "I don't want to hear anymore about this." That happened about 7 years ago.

As an IT analyst, I saw it happen to a new coworker who just started. Being all too familiar with how it felt like, I told my supervisor, "I'm asking you to make sure that this stops happening to Ethan (not his real name)." I'd like to think things got better because I repeatedly brought it to my boss' attention. Ethan looked rather unhappy, coming into work every day. He later told me that he thought of quitting every day, but we became good friends after that horrible period passed for him.

To begin breaking the cycle of bullying, you have to understand that bullying is a triangular relationship with three players: the bully, the target, and the bystander. This article focuses on the bystander element of the relationship. Bullies have to be held accountable; so the bystander becomes an intervenor.

See; bullying is more than a relationship between the victim and abuser. This type of relationship only exists when the environment fosters it. In other words, bullying only happens when people know what's happening and do nothing about it. One way to break the cycle is to have a third player hold the bully accountable.

I first learned this lesson when I was bullied for a short period of time in junior high. My parents were going through a bad divorce, and somehow some bullies in junior high picked up on this. Studies have shown that when children are enduring the bitter domestic battles between mother and father, children feel like their responsible somehow, even though they don't realize it at the time. It really brought down my self-image and worth, and bullies smell this and attempt to exploit it.

Fortunately, for me, the high school principal saw this, intervened, talked to each of the perpetrators, imposed sanctions on them, and it never happened again. 

The City Attorney exacted abusive litigation tactics against me. At the climax of the abuse, Robert Tafoya filed a forged document with the court misrepresenting my signature. Not only is this illegal, it's a felony! Cook Files Emergency Hearing Against City Attorney.

I realized the City Council Members, the City Manager, and the Mayor all condoned Mr. Tafoya's behavior. They were like the other parent, who watches their children get beat up. Although they're not doing the abusing, they're certainly not oblivious to it because I kept telling them what was happening. Did they ever reign in their attorney? Nope.

So, I had to file an emergency hearing and let the judge know what was happening. The anger and contempt he had for the attorney seethed. So, did mine. The court was very clear that he should never, ever do anything like that again.

Mr. Tafoya, being stubborn and hard headed, still engaged in abusive litigation tactics. For instance, he alleges he missed another meeting with me, claiming his son had an emergency. I don't believe this because he's done it before. How many emergencies can this guy have? He claims to go to Arizona, when people tell me he's around. He does these no shows to show people he's in charge. (How petty.)

Nonetheless, his behavior never escalated beyond the shameful deed he did when he forged a document to the court. The lesson of the day is that if one authority won't listen, keep reporting the misconduct, until someone does. Someone will listen (even though it may be awhile).

If you're going through an awful time at work, school, or home, I just wanted to say: Remember; you have value. I come from a Christian view, and the Scriptures say that because God created all of us, we're all equal citizens in the City of God. If you're an atheist, then natural law states we're all equal. And because you have that worth, hang in there, and know that it's alright to tell someone about the harm you faced and are facing.

I went up against a city, that used hundreds of thousands of dollars of resources, the police, and a city attorney against me because I was in the minority, the few who aren't afraid of telling the truth to the corrupt and to others about their corruption. With the help of my community, I prevailed. Believe me: tomorrow can be better than today.

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