Language and bullying by Susan Grimsdell

Pattern of bullying

Sam Uffindell, MP for Tauranga

Today it was revealed that along with two mates, one of our National MPs, Sam Uffindell, at the age of 16, violently assaulted a 13-year-old boy at night in a dorm at a prestigious boarding school.  He now describes that event as “stupid” and “dumb”.   I wonder what words the parents of the victim would choose to describe the event.  If my son had told me he had been beaten by three older boys allegedly using wooden bedlegs, I would not say “Well, they were being dumb and stupid”.  It was brutal bullying, and surely criminal assault.  However, police were not involved.  Sam was quietly transferred to a different prestigious school.

Uffindell is now claiming to be very sorry – well, he waited 20 years to feel sorry enough to apologise to his victim and his remorse only sprang up when he decided to run for Parliament and knew the incident was bound to come out.  He also now confesses he was cruel to other kids too.  No mention of apologies to those other victims.

Bullies unite 

We saw more bullying this week, this time from the new National Party leader, Chris Luxon.  He was delighted to announce new methods to force young people to work.  The assumption is that they are lazy louts, milking “hardworking” taxpayers like you and me.  Setting aside for now the fact that most wealth is not accrued from hard slog; that, for example, many people in NZ only had to relax at home while their houses earned more per year than they themselves ever could, it appears to have escaped Luxon’s notice that the reason there has been an increase in the number of youth on the Jobseeker benefit is that the sectors of the economy that traditionally hired 18 – 24 year-olds – hospitality and tourism – have largely disappeared.  However, his supporters cheered when he made the announcement and isn’t pleasing your voters what it’s all about?

Luxon claims moral concern, wanting to “help” these young people, yet his party stopped funding for truancy officers in 2015, even though the single best way to help young people is to ensure they go to school.  

Would his supporters have cheered if he had said his party’s main focus if elected would be to investigate tax fraud – which costs NZ $1.2 billion a year? He failed to even mention that.  Instead he’s going after 3% of that cost – the $30 million attributed to benefit fraud committed by young people.  Beneficiaries are so much easier a target than well off people who hire big time lawyers to commit tax fraud.   Who’s the bully then?

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