Well bully me, then… English

I read an article yesterday that brought a lot of memories back for me. From very early in school I was the bullied kid, the one to poke fun at, the one to kick a bit for a laugh, the one that was picked last. Now, stay with me, I’ll try not to whine.

I was the quiet kid in the back with the book when everyone else was outside playing football or something like that. I was never very good with sports. I can’t really remember when it was but at some point during my first or second year in school the other kids found out that if you poke and prod the sleeping bear… It’ll wake up. Angry.  I usually did, and when I exploded I exploded for real. Hurling chairs, tables, rocks… people. That became sort of the local sport; tease and poke the fat kid until he explodes, then run away to tease some more. But I wonder… what’s the point? Is it the thrill of danger? The measure of control it gives? Their own sense of insecurity that haunts them to land someone else in the spotlight? Can it be a combination of all of those factors? The thing that scares me most, is the option of bullies doing what they do, just because they can. That thought really freaks me out; small, nasty-minded psychopaths playing with other peoples lives in the same way that they might toy with an ant or a mosquito.

When I grew up a bit, I decided that enough was enough. During one particularly nasty session of poke-fattie, I gave back with all my might. Up until then I had just more or less taken everything they gave me until I couldn’t anymore and then just screamed and flailed as much as possible; this time I was meticulous in my revenge. There were injuries and there were visits to the hospital for several of the kids involved, but as usual the grownups didn’t see, care or act on what was going on. Only one mother actually spoke of it – she showed up at our doorstep with her son, yelling at my parents about what a little bastard I’d been to do that to her son. I never mentioned anything about what had led up to it to my parents… they weren’t big on asking either. I kept it to myself for quite a while, and since that day it became easier – the bullying slipped into a different guise. At least I didn’t get beat up and teased anymore.

I cannot point to what differed between me and those kids in the article; I’m not sure why they went one way and why I went another, but when I read about their hardships I feel unspeakably bad for them… but at the same time I’m relieved that I didn’t do the same as they. A feeling of shame comes with that relief, but I think it’s a very human way of seeing things. Scarily enough this is fairly common. I spoke yesterday with a friend of mine, and she confided that at the high school she had attended, at least one student every autumn succumbed to the same fate. It happens a lot, and I’m not sure why it has to be this way.

What I can be sure of though, is that their fate could have been avoided. Had the adults in their lives known more and stepped in, they might be alive this day. Now, rest easy… I don’t blame them. It’s a very difficult situation to be in – unless bullying is very obvious, it’s also fucking hard to detect, especially by someone not in that situation. It’s also very difficult to speak about it when it’s happening to you, the fear of making things worse can easily overpower any sense of wanting to try to end it… and also you feel at times, deep inside that you might deserve the treatment.

Avoiding things like this happening again will be difficult, but as with so many other problems in society, it helps to talk about it. To shine a light to where the problems are and on what they are so that they cannot grow unchecked in the dark recesses of our community.

6 Responses to “Well bully me, then… English”

  1. “Had the adults in their lives known more and stepped in, they might be alive this day.”

    That’s the part that gets me. Where were the adults during all of this? I know parents and teachers can’t “helicopter” over kids all of the time, but still- underage kids should be supervised, and supervision means, among other things, not letting things get to this point. It’s simple negligence, if you ask me. We do need not let these things go unchecked, but that also means not leaving kids to their own devices all of the time.

    • While I agree with you in principle that kids shouldn’t be left to their own devices all the time, and that the parents have a huge responsibility, I also know it’s very difficult to see what’s happening – especially if the kids hide it. Adults in and around the school should be more aware and even more importantly be trained to handle situations like this, so that it doesn’t only get attention, but the RIGHT kind of attention. They should bring it to the parents, and people who know how to deal with things like this should be brought in. Also, I do want to stress that I’m speaking in general terms here, and not about the people in the article. Mainly because first off, I don’t know enough about the situation and secondly, the parents in question have certainly had more than their share of misery without us adding to their burden.

  2. When small girls fight back, it seldom ends in hospital visits for the other kids. I know, I’m speaking of own experience.
    Had the bullying not stopped when I reached 7th grade and we got to change schools and all the kids from my class got split up in other classes, I probably wouldn’t be sitting here. From 1st to 6th grade I went to a tiny country school, and was bullied the entire time. I got told off for fighting the other kids when I was defending myself, and I got told to hide better when I saw the bullies coming for me. The teachers told me these things, that is. When I was 10 or 11 I had anxiety attacks, and around that time was the first time I started thinking of killing myself. I was (and still am) to chicken to hang or drown myself, we had no guns or dangerous meds in the house (even back then I knew that paracetamol won’t kill you. Atleast not quick and painlessly) and there’s not many places you can jump from to meet a certain death on Gotland. And you can’t easily get to any of those places without a car.
    Had the bullying continued when I got older, I would probably have been able to get hold of some kind of drug or med and alcohol. Perhaps I would have been so tired of my life that I would have given in and hanged myself. If my parents weren’t so awesome, perhaps I would have done it anyway.
    But here I am. Most of the time I’m glad I didn’t off myself. But I can see why these girls did it. I just feel sorry for their families- if they are anything like my family, they’ve fought every step of the way to make their lifes better. And to fail your kids so horribly when you did all you could must be the worst thing in the world for a parent.

    • The attitude you speak of here, where teachers (and usually other adults as well) react as you as the victim should be the one to change is ridiculous not only in the sentiment therein but also in how common it is. I was met with much the same attitude, thus leaving me with the only option that came to me: To deal with it myself – people around me couldn’t help and made it worse. Finally I met someone who could and did help, but not until years later. To this day this really bothers me, and I truly hope that I can have a better relationship with my son as to not let something like this happen to him.

      • Sadly, it doesn’t always help no matter how awesome the parents are. My parents called the other parents and the teachers and the principal a few times a month. They turned up heaven and earth. The option we were given was to put me in a school even further out on the country side… I refused on the grounds that A: I wanted to go to school in the city when I got to 7th grade and if I changed to that school I would have to stay there untill high school. And B: know thy enemy. Changing schools could have ended up in even more bullying, but in new ways from new people. Atleast by staying I knew what I could expect.

      • That’s why I put most of the stress on the school – they are the ones that should know how to handle situations like this, not the parents. The parents should be involved but they usually aren’t the ones that have the know-how.

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