Bullying can be a difficult subject to raise with other people. Children often feel ashamed or embarrassed, or simply don’t want to burden parents or primary caregivers with the issue, feeling responsible or not knowing how to raise the subject. This causes issues in itself, as the subversive nature of bullying means that it can often go unnoticed.
To explain the potential long-term impact of bullying, a victim of school bullying who is now an adult speaks out about his experienced, in order to cast more light on the issue and show the importance of early intervention by parents, teachers and caregivers.
THIS IS HIS STORY:
“I was always quite an introverted child, naturally. I was a bit of a bookworm and interested in science, math and IT – one of your typically ‘geeky’ kids. Raised by my grandparents, my Grandfather was my idol and I wanted to be just like him, wearing the same clothes to school, and mirroring his actions and way of speaking. Although I didn’t realize at the time, this made me an ideal victim for school bullies.
I don’t remember when the bullying first started, but I do know I was pretty young. I have a memory of running from school to get in to my grandparents’ car, in an effort to escape being followed by the more dominant guys in my school. It started out with taunting in class, so I became shy of putting my hand up to answer questions, and progressed over a couple of years until I was constantly at risk of being singled out, beaten up or laughed at.
I always kind of took bullying as a part of life, in the same way as brushing my teeth or going to bed. I didn’t analyze it too much – it was just the way things were. Once, I remember a teacher intervened when I was cornered in the playground and held down, hit by a group of four or five guys. They knocked out my front tooth, and this violence was finally enough to alert the attention of teachers at my school.
Things went from bad to worse. I never spoke to my grandparents about my ordeal, because they had enough to cope with, bringing me up. However, it got to the point where I was so scared to go to school I would do anything possible to avoid it. I made up illnesses to get out of going, and had so many excuses it makes me ashamed to think about it, now. I worried constantly about my clothes, my accent, my glasses and my skin. I was bullied for the way I looked, where I came from, and the fact that I was a bit brighter than some other kids in my school.
Looking back, I think if someone had taken more notice of what I was going through, things could have been very different. I wanted to be homeschooled, but didn’t want to put my grandparents through that stress. Instead, I grew more introverted, started wetting the bed, and stopped eating. My whole childhood seems, looking back, to be dominated by bullying.
As an adult, I’ve dealt with the psychological impact of what happened to me. I am still shy and quiet, but I have had a great academic career and am now confident of who I am and what I have achieved. If I had one message to give to kids out there who are being bullied, it would be that they really need to alert people around them about what is going on. Most of the power bullies have is given because kids stay quiet about what is happening to them. The minute a kid speaks out, the spell is broken and they can be supported to move on from their experiences to lead strong, positive and bully-free lives.”