Monday, 24 September 2012

School Bullying - How to Stop and Consequences?

The tragic death of suicide from bullying of a young school girl from bullying illustrates again the failure of society to address the issues that affect young people in what can only be described as a dog eat dog world. The young girl in this case was left messages telling her she was fat and other assorted messages to try and demoralise the girl and create an insecure being who can then be used as a lever to propel some insecure bully whom more than likely projects his or her insecurities in the hope of feeling better if somewhat only temporarily. Teenage years are the most tumultuous for a young person growing up and the biggest influence in these years more often than not tends to be our peers ( ) so we see them as being mort important in society than family and other older figures, some of whom may have been revered when teenagers were children.

Not often that I open up about my own school years but as someone who suffered at the hands of bullies for years , its easy to feel an affinity to the victim mentioned in the article. For years I was bullied because of my weight and this was justified as I remember someone telling me “I deserve it” and could not provide any justification what so ever. There was a dark cloud over me for a while which clouded me as a person and nearly drove me to suicide but it was thanks to my parents and support that I came through the other side . Compared to others I had a relatively easy enough recovery and after finishing school in 1999 I worked for two years before going to college in 2001 and eleven years on I have not looked back. There was an image in my head that I did not belong, that my whole existence in my formative years  was a burden on other people but all this changed. Society means we have to either fit other niches created by other people or create our own, we all form part of society in its system. I found friends, a place in the world and to this day Im now happy.

How do you solve a situation like bullying? Invariably kids are going to be kids and kids are going to bully, that is a behaviour that has become a societal norm and we need to change this attitude, attitudes can be changed. There are a number of initiatives I have seen in schools to fight against bullying and addressing the issue but we need to be more pro active. Often children in school will have a hierarchy of peers, these are people whom children will look up to and form alliances, if you are outside this alliance then this is when the issues occur. Target these peers whom are at the top of the group, give them some awareness and show them the consquences of their actions, if necessary organise a school trip to visit the families of those afflicted with suicide because of this. This will have a trickle down effect over the school year and while a child may not fit in certainly he will not be targeted as much I believe by his peers. It will take a lot of work with the authorities, school, parents and pupils but it can be done.

Friday, 21 September 2012

A Serious Irish Condition - Political Apathy

Two articles above show the level of apathy that is so prominent in Europe and a malaise that has hit Ireland hard. In the first a number of people in Guernsey were asked about local politics and out of those asked a good proportion showed a high level of ignorance. The second article is more or less a piece on why young people are indifferent to politics. From reading the article its almost easy to assume that they dont vote as its seen as being boring ? Its a daming indictment that people like vacous celebreties have more sway over my generation than the political establishment. What explains this level of apathy though?

While researching last night I came across the following thesis from the University of Southampton

The main reasons from what I can gather are for political apathy is

-People being content with their current situation.

Well the establishment and the upper class (bourgoise?) are not going to rock the boat. They know they have it made on the back fo the Celtic Tiger.

-Generational Gap

Society is somehow disconnected. There is a lack of communication between the generations, between the workers and others on the fringes and peripheral of society.


People who are willing to challenge the elite but are not guided by the elite. These people are materialistic and often there is more a case of looking after the individual. This is a particular issue especially after the Celtic Tiger ended and we all ended up fighting . Very little humanity left.

-New style of politics

There is a shift away from the ballot box and a move to things like petitions. This is not getting involved however.

Lastly there seems to be a view that politics is something of the upper echelons of society, it does not seem to be something involving the lower strata of society and seems to be reinforced here in Ireland today. FF/FG and and their preference for the business calass while Labour seem to be mopping up the local liberal vote and slapping the face off those on welfare (I mean how further from the working class can they get with that?).

All of this has fractured democracy, how do we repair it?

Wednesday, 19 September 2012

Oktoberfest Free in Dublin! ...Oh Wait.......

We here at Fluffy Biscuits love our beer (not as much as our fluffy biscuits mind) but the following came to our attention a few days ago after we spotted this . Oktoberfest is held in town every year the last few years and attracts a big enough crowd. The beer is a tad over priced (what is'nt in this country) and I was delighted to see the following...

That is correct its a free event for everyone! We thought, quids in, its going to be free! Rejoice German Beer lovers but then we sniffed around the site...

So that is a six quid charge for food and to buy beer after ten pm?..Free event for everyone up until 10pm?...Think its back to the offo and settle down in front of the TV me thinks....

Friday, 14 September 2012

Abercrombie & Fitch Open in Dublin - Would You Want to Work for them based on this?

Abercrombie and Fitch (A & F) the huge American retail outlet is to open its first Irish branch soon in Dublin on the old Bank of Ireland building in Dublin's College Green. Already there is a huge bill board with a model standing out and a lot of people are eager to get their hands on their gear which is proving very popular amongst Dublin's haute coutour aware youth eager for the latest hoodie and top. Over the years though, A & F have been embroiled in a number of storms from being hauled through the courts for accusations it hid back room staff whom were non white to the treatment of staff in the sweat shops ithat manufacture their goods n the Phillipenes. The Irish Times published an article recently which highlighted the issues surrounding employment. It goes on..

This notion that only good-looking people need apply has done the company no favours in recent years, and its employment policies have led to a number of court cases. In 2009 a former employee of a London store took it to an employment tribunal claiming she had been forced to work in the stockroom because she didn’t match the company’s strict “look policy”, a guide to the appearance of its shop-floor staff. She was born with the lower part of her arm missing. She won the case, and A&F had to pay her £8,000.

A much more damaging action was taken against the company in the US in 2003. Several Hispanic, black and Asian employees and applicants sued the company saying they had been put into less visible backroom jobs. The company disputed the claims but settled in 2005. As part of the deal it agreed to pay more than €30 million to black and Hispanic groups across the US while admitting no wrongdoing.

A&F hired a diversity officer to increase its share of the workforce from 10% being minorities in 2004 to now having approx 50% of its workforce being from minorities. The issues above are not confined however to people whom may work in its branches, there has been accusations that the company's suppliers have ill treated staff that manufacture goods for A & F

Labour carried the news that the Alta Mode factory, where A & F clothing is made, has done its best to stifle the rights of workers whom sought to form a Union. The workers at the factory were looking for better rights but Alta Mode thought differently and suspended the workers and even had the audacity to bring a case against them in what was a flagrant breach of the workers rights to form a union without being subject to harassement for such actions.

However all may not be lost for such a big brand as they recently bowed to pressure to stop using cotton from Afghanistan thanks to the a petition by the International Labour Rights Forum. A petition calling on A & F proved successful to the point that they bowed to pressure and stopped using cotton from child labourers in Uzbekistan ( They may have been a bit behind though with the times and only caught up as other companies had signed up and installed policies to deal with such issues.

While over 65 of the world’s largest apparel brands and retailers have developed policies related to Uzbek cotton, two companies have remained silent.

One of these the site alleges was A & F until they signed up.

Next time someone goes shopping for Abercrombie and Fitch in Dublin, think of the rights that people have and where your clothing was made. Was it made ethically? Would you like to work in a company with such policies?

Ponder for a minute, would you work somewhere where the staff recruited seem to be just models?

There is a "style guide" that hiring managers get to see. It contains almost no text - just a few dozen pages, each with a full-sized color photograph of different ethnicities - a male and a female for each. They are supposed to serve as examples of the kind of people you should hire. Presumably so the managers will know what good-looking minorities look like. They're amongst the confidential files that are never meant to leave the office, but I'm surprised none have ever surfaced

In 2009 the Guardian reported on the flagship store in Saville Row in London where is seemed so out of place with all of the other shops. Benoit Denizet-Lewis who does article for the NYT magazine tells the Guradian ( that Mike Jeffries (CEO of A & F) came out with the following line when he interviewed him:
"We go after the attractive, all-American kid with a great attitude and a lot of friends. A lot of people don't belong [in our clothes], and they can't belong."

Wonder what would happen if this 23st lump of lard walked brazenly in and demanded a job. I could include on the application "I have the body of a God"...just neglect to tell them its a body like this...