Bullying is repeated verbal, physical, social or psychological aggressive behaviour by a person or group directed towards a less powerful person or group that is intended to cause harm, distress or fear. This page is specifically about bullying in Amateur Radio.
In July 2014, I received two communications from two separate amateurs on different sides of the country on the same day. Both had been the victim of bullies. One was from an F-call and the other, an Advanced-call. Both of them described some of their experiences, how they felt belittled, hurt, humiliated and abused. One of these people stayed off air for a week, the other told me that they've left the hobby altogether.
The vast majority of amateurs are wonderful people. They have fun, seek friendship, enjoy learning new things and meeting new people. Unfortunately there are those who feel that it's their right, privilege and sometimes even responsibility to police the airwaves and abuse others along the way.
We have repeater trolls who sit on "their repeater" and tell you off for using it. We have bullies who troll up and down the bands looking for infractions. They yell "Pirate" when they perceive that someone is doing something wrong, without taking the time to actually ask what's going on. There are those who have the ACMA database on speed dial and check every callsign they hear, never mind if they mishear, and start abusing people on air. We have little darlings who think it's OK to abuse foreign accents, or to hit on women on air. There are "experts" who share their "expertise" by abusing people making mistakes.
All of these examples are things I've personally heard or have spoken directly to the person to whom it happened.
Bullying is no laughing matter, it's not funny, it's not cool, it's not smart and most of all it has to stop.
You may think that this is an isolated case, that it isn't endemic, that F-calls are inviting this behaviour and really they shouldn't be on-air. I've got news for you. An F-call is a licensed amateur and should be afforded the courtesy and privilege that is afforded to all amateurs the world over.
As I said, this has got to stop.
I'm starting a bullying reporting form. It will take your details and the details of the bully, or if you heard someone else being bullied, it will take the details you heard and we'll start logging this abuse. Over time we're likely to find some repeat offenders and we'll start handing their details over to the ACMA and before long they'll find their licence revoked and their equipment impounded.
In the mean time, if you are the subject of being bullied, log the details, as much as you can remember, at the time of the event. If you are able, record the audio. Don't engage the bully. Find a friend within 24 hours and talk to them. Pick up the phone, send them an email, get in touch with someone else. Don't stew on this on your own. You did nothing wrong, it's not your fault. Don't take matters into your own hands, don't look up their address and pay them a visit. It's likely to land you into lots of trouble. Play it cool. Ignore and log it.
Karma is a bitch.
The bullying reporters form is now live on the vk6.net website with some other resources for you.
If you need to get in touch with me, you can: firstname.lastname@example.org.
No more bullies.
I'm Onno VK6FLAB