So, I went to my neighbour’s house yesterday and her daughter told me she had a headache, when I asked why the reply was a little more than I’d assumed it’d be. She told me she’d been on the phone all afternoon with her daughter’s (my neighbour’s granddaughter) school after finding out a boy was bullying her. Her daughter told me that the boy was spreading rumors about her and turning all of her friends against her, to the point where they shouted at her that day at lunch time. It brought back a ton of memories of when I was bullied at High School and then I began to worry… All of those stories you see and hear in the media about young people committing suicide after being bullied at School. That fueled my anger that it was now happening to a young person I cared about, and this; was the inspiration for this blog post.
When I was in High School – at about fifteen years old - a group of ‘friends’ turned against me. At the time, I couldn’t really pinpoint why they did; but looking back… I think that it was because my behaviour changed so much when the abuse began (also aged fifteen). I didn’t become a nice person. I’d understand someone not liking the person I became; I was obnoxious - rebellious, constantly angry, rude, aggressive, untrustworthy, shallow, and disrespectful. But I think that because I knew this change was due to the abuse, I couldn’t understand why no one else could see this. In one way, I was trying to hide the fact it was going on but, in another way, by behaving in a different way… well, it was a desperate cry for someone to say; ‘I wonder why she’s changed.’ But instead of being concerned, my friends hazed me out of the group and continued to bully me once I was all alone.
I had the cliché confusion as to whether I should tell my teachers what was happening; I worried that if they were to be told off for it, it might actually make the bullying worse. In the end, I started to self-harm by scratching at my arms with a pin from a noticeboard and when it was finally noticed, I was referred to Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service. It took so long to get an appointment though that I had time to find the courage to tell my Mum, talk to the teachers and have the bullying stop before I even got a letter from the Service!
The bullying came to an end with one of my teachers calling everyone involved into a room and telling them all off.
To the bullies: Find something better to do with your time. If you’re bullying because there’s something going on in your own life, then ask for help rather than making someone else feel just as bad as you do. If you’re jealous of the person you’re bullying, then maybe think about different aims you’d like to achieve that might make you feel better about your own life. And just imagine how you’d feel if the person you’re bullying started hurting themselves - or worse – would you feel to blame? Could you live with that?
To the people being bullied: You have to speak up. If you don’t, how can you ever expect it to stop? Hoping that they’ll just ‘get bored’ isn’t enough. When you find yourself praying, they’ll just ‘move onto someone else’ is when you really need to take a step back. Imagine someone feeling the way you do; would you really wish that upon someone else or are you just desperate for it not to be you anymore?
To the Teachers: You’ll never do the ‘right’ thing by the person being bullied because their ideal is that it had never happened, and you can’t change that it has. Instead, you’re left with the options of conflict resolution that include mediation. Personally, I think you need to be really careful about utilizing that skill; speaking to everyone involved at the same time makes everyone appear to be regarded as equal by the teaching staff – an idea that the person being bullied will already be struggling with.
To the parents: Don’t think you’re alone in feeling powerless and angry.
For a hard-hitting, raw, and honest portrayal of bullying, go watch 13 Reasons Why on Netflix (lots of trigger warnings in it though!)