Stand Up to Bullying

Being mean isn’t cool.

I sometimes wonder why on earth people have this obsessive desire to be particularly cold and manipulative when it takes so much effort to do so. You have to go out of your way to pick on someone, and I really do wonder what possesses someone to treat someone as if they’re worthless.

I’m going to try not to give an X-Factor-worthy sob story about how hard my childhood was, growing up in an all-girls privatee school but the main gist of it is that I developed anxiety as a result of certain teachers’ treatment towards me. I was made to feel like a failure at everything, and I was picked on for standing up against their constant accusations of being a disruption in class. They had their favourites and I simply wasn’t one of them, so naturally they made my life hell. I was punished for asking teachers to pronounce my name correctly when they’d intentionally mispronounce it. I was given detention for ‘answering back.’ I was always questioned about why I deserved to study at their school. Alas, shit happens.

I hate to sound bitter but there’s no way of sugar-coating an experience which traumatised me during an influential and delicate period of my life, where I was yet to discover my identity and sense of self. My point to this is that it was highly unnecessary. My form tutor and my “head of pastoral care” who soon came to claim the title of headteacher both accused me of anything and everything under the sun. I used to sit in the back and do my work silently but that wasn’t enough for them. And it was intentionally malicious; they set out to humiliate me in front of classmates. What did it achieve for them? A momentary sense of satisfaction to exploit an authoritative position and the trust of one’s parents simultaneously without them knowing, sure but what real gain was there from treating me like this? It’s been four years since I left that place and I’m still somewhat haunted by it. That’s what bullying does – it leaves scars that won’t ever leave you.

Bullying comes in all shapes and forms: online, in person, through social media etc. I am a strong believer in the notion that not enough is done to catch these coward culprits and bring them to justice. From sharing intimate pictures of your ex as ‘revenge porn’ to sending death threats to those who speak out on social media, people ought to be punished for their actions. Bullying isn’t taken as seriously as it should be, with the ramifications leaving a victim both emotionally and physically traumatised. A boy I grew up with committed suicide after being told to kill himself by another group of schoolboys in the same town as him. They spurred him on, told him they’d kill him if he didn’t go through with it. I cannot fathom how heartless a person can be if they can sleep at night after sending such messages. And to think, my friend’s death is on them now. How can one live with that? Bullying should warrant more punishment, including sentencing and jail time depending on the crime.

Discriminating against someone because of their nationality, beliefs or religion is also unacceptable and ought to be treated with the same attitude as other crimes, too. Ultimately, discrimination is singling someone out from others because they’re different in some way or another. It’s making someone believe they’re inferior to you and treating them as such. It’s unfair. We didn’t come this far in life, as a society and as a race, only to be defeated by each other. What a step backwards. Some people see bullying as childish: I see it as dangerously destructive.

Say NO to bullying, whatever form it comes in.

A x

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