BEDN Day 18 – Anti-Bullying Week, a serious topic & one that really got me thinking.
At primary school I was bullied. At the time I had no idea this was what was happening to me, I thought it was something that happened at school like lumpy custard and nose bleeds. I didn’t tell anyone – what would I have expected to happen? This is how I was bullied – a girl from a couple of years above me would come up to me, stand in front of me and take a step forward, forcing me to step back. She then stepped forward and I stepped back. This continued until I was standing in the corner of the playground where we would remain until the bell was rung. Then she went to her classroom and I went to mine. Sounds funny when I type it now but it was mildly threatening – I had no idea why she did it, what I had to do to get her to stop, or why she chose me. We never exchanged a word so I never knew what it was all about. Eventually she left fro secondary school and my play times were my own again.
I went to the same secondary school as her but our paths didn’t cross at school. When I was in the Sixth Form I went on one date with her brother but didn’t make the connection until we bumped into her when we were on our date. There was a huge group of us and she showed no sign of knowing who I was. After one more drink than I should have had, I asked her why she had treated me like that at primary school. She had no idea what I was talking about! She didn’t remember me at all!
This to me sums up bullying – an act that traumatises the victim but means nothing at all to the bully. My bully had no reason for singling me out, I was totally anonymous to her, I could have been anyone. She forgot all about me once we weren’t thrust together in a school playground, yet I remembered her and what she did for years after.
It felt good to confront her – I told her how she had made my life miserable for a few years and how I had spent too long wondering what was wrong with me to attract that type of attention. She looked embarrassed and tried to mutter an apology. I brushed her sorry away as it meant nothing to me. I had grown as a person, got over it and was stronger as a result. As a former victim I had never bullied anyone, I stood up to bullies and stood up for victims whenever I could and I still do. I won and she didn’t; that’s the most important thing I took from that experience.
In my time as a teacher I had to speak to many children about bullying, both those who were suffering, those who were doing it and those who needed to be educated about bullying. There is a never ending list of reasons why people are bullied, none of them an adequate justification, but one thing never changes – bullies are cowards, they are weak and feeble people who back down when challenged and they are rarely happy.
So this week have the courage to speak up if you’re being bullied and speak out if you see bullying – you can make a huge difference to someone’s life.