If children don’t learn why bullying is such an evil part of human nature, they carry it into adulthood.

This rather unfortunate truth was put on full display this last week after a Valentine’s Day bingo fundraiser mutated into a heartbreaker for Arctic Paws Spay and Neuter services.

It all started with a mistake made during the calling, when numerous eager players were led to believe N36 had been called. However, when it turned out the number was not called, either from human or mechanical error, people went berserk.

Callers, organizers and people completely uninvolved in the event all reported receiving harassing phone calls and messages, people screaming at them and a few even claim they received death threats and were told to kill themselves.

This would be shocking enough if it happened on a schoolyard, where children can organize themselves into a rather brutal pecking order if not kept in check. But these were adults attempting to bully their way towards an outcome.

At $20 a card for the jackpot round, I can appreciate that some people probably had gambled a lot of money with their eye on the $25,000 jackpot. I can also appreciate people not wanting more attention drawn to this, because at the end of the day it was a mob of people losing their minds over a bingo game.

Unfortunately, adults reducing themselves to schoolyard tactics when they don’t get their way have become a pretty common occurrence over the last few years. In one year alone we’ve witnessed temper tantrums across the continent over things as petty as wearing a mask to so we can get some control over the covid-19 pandemic, to mob attacks on Black Lives Matter demonstrators, to an attempt to overthrow a legally elected government.

All of these mobs were built out of grown adults who made the decision to use intimidation, domination and violent force to get what they wanted. In almost all of the cases, the bullies were able to at least disrupt things because no one expected the level of aggression they brought to the table.

Obviously these adults learned these tactics from somewhere and the balance of probabilities puts it at the majority either finding success or at least not facing consequences for bullying others while growing up.

This is why days like Pink Shirt Day are important to both raise awareness about the problem of bullying but also to impress upon children that it’s wrong.

Anyone who has been around children for any length of time knows they are fantastic mimics. Children look to the adults around them for cues on how they should behave in a given situation. So its only natural if someone sees dad and/or mom bullying their way into getting a refund on a bingo card, for example, a child will learn that’s the way to deal with a mistake.

So if you have something pink to wear this Feb. 24, do it for Arctic Paws. But also do it to set an example for our next generation. Our youth are only going to behave as well as we expect of ourselves, so we all need to hold our own feet to the fire and do better.

Eric Bowling

Covering all things related to the Beaufort Delta, Eric Bowling is your editor for the Inuvik Drum. He came north after cutting his teeth in Alberta. Eric enjoys long walks, loud music and strong coffee.

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