I've been trying to write a blog post for a good part of this morning and a little of this afternoon but, for some strange reason, my brain has stalled. Normally I have no shortage of things I want to talk about and I will prattle on about them forever if you let me but today my mind appears curiously blank. So, in an attempt to have something to write about I have prepared a list of topics and chucked them into a hat...here goes...today's topic is:
Well, this is an interesting topic and one that I am quite familiar with. One doesn't go through high school with glasses, braces and an unhealthy obsession with Star Wars and not get bullied. Add to that my cleft lip and palate and you have almost perfect bully bait.*
Bullying has been in the news on an increasingly regular basis as of late and I feel, going into high school to teach, that it is something that I will be constantly on the look out for.
I endured the normal taunting and teasing from primary school age onwards but at high school I learned how bad bullying can get. I got punched a couple of times and pushed down stairs occasionally until I learned how to hide or avoid certain places at certain times. The worst incident that comes to mind, however, was when I was politely informed that there was a hole in the back of my trousers - this hole, it turns out, was cause by a rather sharp pair of scissors. The reason I say that this was the worst was mainly due to embarrassment and at the cheek of the whole thing.** No one likes showing their underwear off at the age of thirteen. Plus these were brand new trousers and they had cost my parents a fair bit of money. School uniforms - evil but understandable.
Through all of this I was told the things that you normally tell children to do when they are confronted by a bully. You know, ignore it, report it to a teacher and so on. Sometimes these things work but a lot of the time they don't. I wish there was a sure fire way to stop bullies in their tracks. I also wish I could say that people grow out of being bullies but all you have to do is look at any office and you will find, at least, one bully.
I don't like people who bully - especially those people who bully those who look slightly different etc. I still see it in my various jobs and I'm always surprised at the people who are the bullies. It makes me angry and sad to think that there are people out there who seem to lack empathy though whether that is the case is another matter entirely. At the same time I guess I have to thank my bullies because I am a stronger person because of it. I truly think that there are three main options open to those who are or have been bullied.
First, they become bullies themselves. (I'm pretty sure I didn't take this path.)
Or, second, they slowly fade away from all the hurt and suffering and then they do whatever they can to escape. (For awhile I feel I might have been on this path)
Or third, they become stronger and better people. (This is me...I hope.)
As to stopping bullies. I know that a lot of schools now have a 'zero-tolerance' stance in place but this will only work if the bullying is reported. I also know that some students are being encouraged to fight back. This will work sometimes and other times it won't. Bullying really is a tricky thing. You don't want to encourage it and you definitely don't want to ignore it so it is a very hard thing to control or stop. Add to that the gender differences in the approach to bullying. Though, with that being said, girls are turning to more violent acts as well. Our local rag did an article on 'swarming' where gangs of girls roam around at night looking for someone to bully or attack. Once they choose their victim they swarm around her and then beat her up.
This might make me sound old or naive but I would never have even thought about something like that when I was at school. Heck, I was always about the education so I could escape this town.***
I'd be interested in your ideas. Were you bullied? What did you do about it? Has it made you a 'better' person?
P.S. Just for your own information - I actually ran into a couple of the people who used to bully me at school. They were incredibly nice to me now but I couldn't help but notice that they look a lot older than me. And rather haggard to boot. Although I could view this as just desserts in all reality, I don't really care about them. I gave them too much of my worry while I was at school.
*Something about that sounds really wrong.
** Puns intended.
***Oddly enough I'm back at this town and about to start teaching at my old high school. Insanity, like noses, run in my family.