I am unsure as to how many times since I have been writing this, the number of times I have talked about bullying. Yet, here I am again, and I am sad to say that I doubt it will be the last time I will address this subject.
I feel sorry for bullies. I feel sorry for them, because they are insecure enough in their own personalities that they have to try to propel themselves to a higher standing in their peer group by showing the world that their nasty side is far too close to the surface.
I was bullied all through school. I was the fat kid. I was the quiet studious one. I played in a brass band. So many things to be bullied about. It made me hate school. I did have some amazing friends who were always there for me, and they just about made it tolerable. I grew up with such low self esteem, that even now, I find positivity on a personal level really difficult. I hate – a word I really dislike using, but I really hate the thought of my boys being bullied, to the point that just talking about it makes the tears flow. Bullies leave life long scars that can’t be brushed aside. Kids being kids is not a mindset we should allow to ignore bullying. “Sticks and stones might break your bones but names will never hurt you” has to be one of the biggest lies I was told as a child. Words can be deadly, or at least so hurtful that they replay in your head, again and again.
Bullying happens everywhere, but does that mean we have to just shrug our shoulders and say that it makes it acceptable? I think not. We all need to take bullying seriously. I don’t want D to grow up thinking he needs to put his fingers down his throat after every meal, the way I did, because some toe rag thinks it makes them look big to their mates to criticise the way he looks. The media and society generally have a lot to answer for by giving people unrealistic images of what one should be like. However, it is not the only responsibility. Bullying is a learned behaviour. I say lets teach our kids to respect each others differences rather than feel the need to point them out in a nasty manner.
M’s social awkwardness and lack of ability to really understand friendship has led to many incidents of him being the target of bullies over the years, and I do wonder if this in some way has led to his present mental state.
It is however, D that has been going through hell again recently. D has been bullied on and off since he started interacting with other children. He is a big lad which leaves him vulnerable, but he is such a gentle giant that I feel his personality doesn’t fit what people might judge him to be. I had one mother tell me once, that her daughter doesn’t like boys, but she liked D because he was much nicer than normal boys! It made me laugh. I can however see what she means when I see him with a group of other children – other than his closest friends, where he backs off from the group, doesn’t want to put himself forward, and avoids confrontation at all costs. D gets on with everyone most of the time, I think like me, he finds it much easier to be pleasant with people than not. He can however end up being overly trusting, and even when people have wronged him previously he will give them chance after chance, never wanting to shut the door on a potential friend.
The child that has been bullying him recently has done so on and off since nursery. After each time D says he wants nothing more to do with him, but will let him back in, and for a while things will be fine, but it always starts up again.
Middle of last week, D came home from school in a foul mood. Now, there is nothing too unusual about this, as the pressure of holding things together all day obviously takes its toll and he needs to unburden himself. It does usually calm down pretty quickly and he gets on with his evening, however this day it didn’t. He was stewing over something, but all I got when I asked him was a very teenage sounding “nuffin”. Eventually he said he had been threatened as he left school. I asked him to say what had led up to the event, and the tears started as he spoke of incident after incident that had happened of the previous week. It seems he and his friends had been playing a game of super heroes when this other child joined in and started ramming the others because he was a wrestler. He refused to stop when they told him he was being too rough. The next day he took D by the neck and threatened to twist his head. He let go when some other kids came over. D hadn’t told any adult at school about it. We once again had the conversation that he must report any acts of violence when they happen – D does have trust issues with reporting bullying after ways it has been dealt with previously. His Dad said he would email the school to ask them to look into it, but D insisted he didn’t want that to happen as there was a party they would both be attending on the Saturday and he didn’t want to cause any bad feeling. It was agreed that we would leave it, but he had to promise that if there were any more incidents than the school would be asked to do something. Monday he came home saying he had been threatened again with the child pushing him and asking him if he wanted a fight. When D said no, he shoved him trying to get D to react. He didn’t. The bully did get a reaction though when he grabbed D by the head again, and the only way he could free himself was to grab at the leg of the child and pull him over. This was the final straw, Hubby emailed the head straight away. Once the bully had got D to react, the worry is that D is going to be caught defending himself and be seen as the aggressor – he is twice the size of the bully. D was quite worried about going to school as he feared reprimands of reporting it, but luckily he had a day of special activities to do with his class project, so he got to school. I told him to tell the truth, as that is the only way to handle the situation.
Yesterday, Hubby received an email from the depute saying she would be talking to D and the child in question. I was worried for him, but knew his definite sense of right and wrong would get him through. Mid afternoon I had a phone call from the depute to say she had spoken to both D and the child. All that D had told was admitted by the child. I have to say I give credit to the boy for not trying to cover his own back. The boys teacher would be informed of the situation and he would be watched for behaviour on the playground.
I put the phone down, pleasantly surprised that the situation had been dealt with. Previously when bullying has been taken to the school, there has been some very wishy-washy responses. When in P1, D was basically told it was his fault he was being bullied and to make himself less vulnerable if he wanted it to stop. There have also been times when as long as the bully has apologised, then it is seen the incident has been closed. How easy is the word “sorry” to say compared to how difficult it is to actually mean. As a parent, you get to the point when you understand that the lack of concern can only lead to a negative mind-set from your own child. It was therefore great to see that not only had it been taken seriously but that the child had been told off. I am hoping that D seeing this positive action will help boost his confidence to feel there is a point in reporting incidents when they happen so they don’t bubble away inside his head. I do understand how difficult it is to open up about bullying because bullies have such a way to make you feel that you have bought it upon yourself.
D came home from school much happier than he had looked for ages. I think speaking up had taken the weight of the world of his shoulders. I just hope that for now it has put an end to it. The bully in question though did say to one of Ds friends that he was annoyed that he had got him into trouble – its good that he feels he has got into trouble, but I hope he’s not out for revenge. I have told D that it was not him that got the boy into trouble, but the child’s actions that have got himself into trouble.
Only time will tell how long D will be free of bullying this time. I do however see the way this has been handled by the school as a very positive move. I am just hoping D sees that it speaking out is the best way to handle it.