My personal experience of bullying started at primary school, I was undergoing treatment for my first case of leukemia and lost all of my hair at this point due to chemo and radiotherapy. Thankfully it was only three children that started up on me calling me a "baldy bap" or a "baby" though the other kids in class and school stood up for me and said "what do you think you are doing" pretty much as there were at least three occasions where the whole class saw me throw up and thankfully for them I did make it to a sink or bin each of these times. All I could think of for the reason for this was because I maybe got to leave school early sometimes to go to the hospital or just go home because I just wasn't well and I got more attention than they did but it wasn't as if I wanted it or maybe there was some other reason.
Though what I could not understand was that during a maths lesson maybe in P5 where we were drawing circles and learning about circumferences one of the same girls thought it would be a great idea to stab me in the head with a mathematical compass for what reason I have no idea. Though due to the trauma now apparently I have a big raised bit of bone that looks like a little horn on my head. I wasn't permanently harmed in anyway but I could have been. I do wonder recently if that girl regrets doing it now that she is grown up or even remembers it, she did add me on Facebook last year but I don't think I would be petty enough to ask "hey do you remember the time you could have caused me permanent brain damage?" Just think I am a bit bigger than that and I think its important not to dwell on the past.
Secondary school was a lot worse for bullying I found as teachers weren't willing to intervene as much and whenever they did it just seemed to make things much worse. Though I did learn who my real friends were and it pretty much led me to a whole new group of people who liked me for who I was and I am still friends with them today so although it was really difficult and I deliberately missed school as I was really miserable whenever I stuck it out and approached my bullies in front of the rest of the class I realised that they weren't worth my time even if some of them had been my friends in primary school. Once I got over the fear of them I just started talking to new people and life became a lot better.
Though at the beginning I became so stressed that I couldn't even sleep for the dread of the next morning so much so that I had to go see a sleep therapist, that was how bad it got, not that I had been a great sleeper to begin with.
I know that this isn't easy to do but you can't run forever, I found in my case though that the boys in my class would always be friends with me even if the girls wouldn't in first and second year which maybe infuriated them even more but at this point I didn't care they could go stuff themselves as far as I cared and then I met the girls that they hung out with which were much nicer than the girlie girl groups. Then by fifth years all of my bullies had either dropped out of school or couldn't get back in anyway if they had have spent more time studying than making other people feel bad about themselves then it would have worked out better for everyone but again who knows what they were thinking when they were putting thumb tacks on my chair or throwing balls of paper at me. Maybe they were jealous that I was adaptable despite my illness and they remained the same petty people they were in primary school. I don't know but I don't feel any sympathy towards them now or even care what happened to them. They can't effect me anymore and probably don't have as good a life as I do now.
I just don't understand why girls have to be so two faced about things though even in adulthood, why are some women so two faced? How does playing games benefit anyone?
So I saw the topic of Bullying come up and thought i'd share my opinion on it and why from my personal life I am so against it. I think everyone or mostly everyone goes through a fair bit of bullying at school and if they don't its probably because they were being the bully to other people.
I left school around 3 years ago now and I am so glad, yes I made a few friends but we go to school to learn. Not many children really enjoy school anyway but with the thought of going into school everyday and being bullied as well as just having to be there can be hard work.
So a bit about my life and why I got bullied, Unfortunately I wasn't a typically girly girl at school, I hated the fact that I had to wear a skirt to school because that just wasn't me. Not only was I uncomfortable in a skirt and didn't fit in with the cool crowd I got called a man pretty much for the whole 5 years I was at school. I'm not into skirts, blouses, make up and hair extensions etc. I'm not saying that every girl is either because they aren't but people that weren't cool and stylish got bullied for this just because we wore our uniform like an actual uniform at school. If I didn't roll my skirt up to look like a belt boys in my class would laugh at me, and if I tried to look 'cool' I'd still feel stupid. Either way I couldn't win when it came to the way students had to dress. I was deemed as a 'man' from the word go at school because I looked different and dressed differently.
Another reason why I was bullied at school. I got my hair cut pretty short for a girl in year 9 and fair enough it probably was a a bit of a bad move but it didn't mean people had to insult me over it or pretend they liked it and then walk away laughing. I had fingers pointing at me all the time and people sniggering behind my back. School is never really that fun anyway but this made it a lot worse. I never took time off of school and I wouldn't but it was hard getting up in the morning knowing I had to face them horrible bullies everday. If I did even tell the teachers what happened they would sort it but then you just get bullied for being a snitch. Most of my kind lovely friends fell into the bully crowd by the end of year 11 or just said harsh things about me behind your back. To this day its made me a little insecure and I can be quite paranoid. Trusting people isn't easy now either.
One of the biggest and most controversial reasons that I was bullied at school and people are completley entitled to their own opinion. I 'came out' so to speak at school. I knew I wasn't like a lot of girls in my year and I never really wanted to be like them. Sometimes I did just to try have an easy life but that didn't cut it. In year 9 I came out as a Bisexual to one of my apparently not real friends. She promised she wouldn't say anything because I didn't know for sure then and didn't want the news to spread. But within a few days everyone at school heard and people were coming up to me that I didn't even know asking me questions. I gave them honest answers and then walked on by. Even over social network sites people at my school that I didn't really know would start asking me if the rumour was true. I am happy with the person I am today now I do know my sexuality and I am proud of it. At school its a massive deal for people and its a rumour that can spread like lightning. This ruined my school years as every person would just laugh at me as I walked past or shout verbal abuse at me especially the so called 'popular' people that everyone looked up to.
School like I said can be tough and for me it really was. A lot of people get bullied at school It could be for any reason whatsoever, the truth is people will find a reason just for entertainment just so they have someone to pick on. Its not tough and its not cool but it won't stop for a long time. The punishments in my opinion for bullies at school isn't enough. They either get suspended whih means they come back and don't learn their lesson or they get expelled and they end up causing trouble somewhere else.
My Sister is currently at school and has been bullied for about 3 years now my one girl imparticular. My sister had never actually done anything to this girl but this girl just didn't like her. She got bullied on a social network site and gets verbal abuse and barged from her at school all the time. The girl also gave my sister two death threats, but thank goodness my sister is in a stable condition and would never take real offence to them. The school has been notified but they haven't done anything with the girl as of yet. I think schools are to chilled out about bullying and let it go on for to long before something serious happens and then something is done.
Now I can look in the mirror and smile, no I am no way shape or form perfect but I am happy with myself and what happened to me has made me a stronger person. I definitely wouldn't recommend people bullying its not hard and it doesn't make you popular. People usually bully to cover up their own insecurities. Its made me a stronger person but it can take time to heal from all of the insults. If anyone ever gets bullied admit too it and go seek some help don't do it on your own.
Hello, I want to talk to you about my experience with bullying and my life now.
In primary school I was bullied quite often, mostly name calling. Because of being put down often over my looks I lost a lot of confidence and began to hate my appearance. I was quite a happy, bold girl when I was younger but the people who called me these horrible things changed that.
Then high school started and things got worse. From day 1 every single day was a struggle, in the beginning it was mostly name calling and pushing/shoving, I had no confidence at all and no one would be my friend, most of my lunches were spent alone. Because the name calling was getting more extreme, I started skipping lessons and couldn't concentrate on anything when I was in lessons.
Back at home my family were not that supportive and didn't understand why I couldn't stick up for myself, having nobody to talk to made things a lot harder to cope with. I began self harming at the young age of 11 because cutting my skin and hurting myself gave me some sort of release and it felt good, I wore long sleeve tops and always tried to hide my arms so nobody could see.
I was in my first high school for just around 8 months, during those months I was hit in the face, kicked, punched, mocked. I was the easy target and I felt helpless and like I was unable to do anything.
My mum finally decided to take me out of that school, reason being: I was walking to meet my dad after school and some students grabbed my hair from behind and threw me under an oncoming car. I was rushed straight to hospital and was examined, luckily nothing major happened and it was just a sprained ankle, but they could of took away my life that day.
My mum reported the people who threw me under a car to the police, the main girl got away with it which I remember crying for days about, I felt disgusted that somebody could get away with doing something like that. I haven't seen the girl since thankfully, but just the thought of her sends shivers all over my body.
Whilst looking for a new school to go, I still self harmed and spiralled into deeper sadness. Finally, my mum had found me a new school.
I remember my first day, I felt sick, alone and so scared, but I was happy to see that I recognised some nice people from primary school, I talked to them and we were now back friends.
The first 2/3 months of school were okay, don't get me wrong I was still getting pushed and shoved by older kids and people enjoyed to put me down and call me names, but I felt like I could cope with it. I did try my best to ignore it but eventually every night it would cross my mind and I always wondered why it was just me who fell victim to their abuse.
After the first 2/3 months passed things got worse. Students were always looking to start fights with me and they made me feel so useless and ugly. I did the 'typical' fit in things to try and make people like me, smoking, always skipping lessons, wearing shorter skirts, I even started piling my face in my mums make up to try and change my looks! I would even go into shops and steal things for people. people who pretended to like me and took advantage of how low I was. I gave girls money which I would steal from my parents just so they would acknowledge me and not abuse me with their foul mouths.
Because of never coming to lessons and the change in myself, the teachers called in my parents and had words with them about my behaviour. I got quite a lot of abuse, both mentally and physically from my mum at home which I don't want to go into as its not really relevant and it just shouldn't be spoken of.
At school things were still the same, the bullying was just as bad as the first school and I was still acting like a rebel to make people accept me, I didn't feel NORMAL, I felt like an alien and wanted it all to be over. I was suffering from nightmares and struggled to sleep, the self harming had got worse and I had now started over my legs and stomach and the cuts were deeper than ever.
Eventually my mum took me out of that school because I was refusing to go in each day. Whilst my mum was looking for a new school, I started to use the computer more often. I made up a new 'me' online. I would lie about my age, I would lie about my name and found ways to work with the camera that made me feel good about myself. I would go into chat rooms and talk to strangers, it felt good to have a normal conversation with somebody who wouldn't judge me or talk down to me all the time, it was nice to have people who enjoyed my company.
The self harming stopped, and although I wasn't 100% better I felt a huge improvement in my mood.
Again, a few months passed and my mum had found me my third high school. I wasn't excited to be starting as it was in one of the roughest areas where I lived, but I had no choice and sucked it up and went to school.
So how was this school you ask? No better than the rest, I was still treated like garbage from so many people.
I remember being at the lowest point I had ever been in that school, about 4 months were spent with me in isolation because I didn't want to be near anybody ( yes, me in ISOLATION because of people who bullied me, it wasn't fair. )
The teachers decided to move me out of isolation, I didn't want to because I was so frightened but they thought it would be best for me. I spent the next few months until I left that school in the toilets EVERY SINGLE LESSON, every SINGLE break and every single LUNCH, people would still threaten me as they knew I was the one in the cubicle.
Everyday I would sit their in the cubicle, cutting my wrist because it was what made me feel better. I took my mums vodka in and would sit their drinking it. One day I even came close to hanging myself on the back of the cubicle door because I didn't see the point in living anymore.
I was 14 years old.
I didn't want to be in that school anymore, so I ran home and told my mum.
My mum hated me for being such a little easy target. She would yell at me and laugh and ask me why I just couldn't hit them back or ignore it?
She found out about my self harming and laughed in my face and called me attention seeking. I told her I needed some help, I begged and she got me a doctor to talk to, I spoke to the doctor for a few months and she would sit and have long conversations with me and make me fill out little questionnaires. Although it didn't really help me feel better about myself, it was still nice to know that there were nice, real people in this world who actually listened.
The doctor I was seeing was great, after a good few months she got me into a hospital school which was for people with depression/anxiety. I started that school and I have nothing bad to say about it, I was only there for a couple of months unfortunately as I was to old to be in there, but I wish I had gone there sooner as I made a great friend and I felt comfortable going in each day and being around people.
Its now a few years on and I am 19 years old, because of everything I was put through I don't do anything with my life. I have severe depression and I am on medication for it. I suffer from panic attacks and can not be around strangers. I wake up every morning and feel repulsed by what I see in the mirror. I am getting help but its a long road until I am fully better.
I look back now and wonder WHY it was always me who people picked on, I was a nice girl who was easy to get along with and would of made a great friend.
I now have a boyfriend who I met online a few years ago who has shown me that there is some pretty amazing people in this world, we now live together and he is what I get up for every single day, he is helping me to get better and has introduced me to some of the loveliest people I have ever known.
If you're getting bullied I send you out so many virtual hugs, I just hope you don't let things affect you like I did, YOU'RE NORMAL, YOU'RE A GREAT, CARING PERSON and those people who are picking on you are nothing but sad, pathetic people who get a kick out of bringing people down.
Try and be stronger than me, get a good education and then go on to get a great job and live a happy life, one day you will meet people who love you and care for you and wouldn't ever hurt you.
Don't change so you can fit in with them.
BE YOURSELF, because you're amazing.
Bullying must be stopped. FULL STOP! Nobody out there deserves to be bullied. Bullying isn't just name calling, it can be physical, fighting, bitching, threats, and also cyber-bullying is found all over networking sites, most commonly Facebook and MSN. It can happen anywhere at anytime in a classroom, in a corridor, in the playground, outside of school, even worse on the internet.
I was bullied all the time at school, for almost everything about me, my looks, weight, what my interest were, my acting and kids were telling me I would never become an actress cause 'i was untalented and too fat and ugly.' But I did everything to ignore them. (throughout primary and secondary school) and it made me feel down a lot and sometimes refused to go into school, and even if you told a teacher, not much would be done unless a teacher saw it for witness. In a primary school, it would be sorted cause there are teachers in classrooms and playgrounds and primary school are smaller buildings, but at secondary school where the buildings are a lot bigger Bullies tend to bully random kids where the teachers can't see - this is where the problem is coming from.
Even worse, what has happened to some people is that, Bullies have done something extreme to hurt someone and where the victim ends up moving schools or being home-schooled, even worse comitting suicide and the teachers just gives them a detention - THIS IS OUT OF ORDER, because the bully is then going to then do it again as they will know they'll just get away or just a detention for it.
There are many reasons what causes a bully to bully:
- problems at home e.g. family
- try to fit in with the crowd
- they are bullied themselves - they think bullying will make the feel better.
- weak, alone, no friends
there have been trying to improve on bullying, especially facebook where they are planning to introduce a panic button, if any bullying happens online.
But personally, schools and bullying help lines need to do more to stop this, cause at my school they said they'll do anything to stop bullying but from my point of view they didn't do a lot and ended up giving the bully a second chance - which is unfair and selfish.
Worse cases, are that some teenagers have ended committed suicide because of bullying, this form of bullying is usually cyber-bullying. This has increased over the past few years. The age range is usually between 13-18 year olds.
After all I have said more needs to be done and the goverment really need to take this on board, maybe teenagers need to express their reviews forward to the goverment.
I'm not sure what the rules on second hand info is but since this didn't happen to me but a relative not sure if I should post this. But since I feel so strongly about this issue and have very strong views on the ways to prevent it I thought I had better explain the why rather than come across as some monster.
Ok so here is why I feel so strongly about it: my older brother was bullied at school. Not just casual name calling but full out beaten on a nearly daily basis at times. The reason he was bullied was because he had bright ginger hair and a geek, always being top of the class a lot more intelligent than everyone and wasn't afraid of showing it. So you might say his superior attitude brought it on himself. Doesn't make what they did right though.
My mum (and dad when he was home from work since he worked the other side of the country) where constantly down the school and even talking to the police about it. Nothing was done. It got to the point where my mother confronted the main instigator and had a go at him (not really advisable but after months of watching your child suffer I know I would be willing to try anything to make it stop. Wouldn't you?), this just made it worse and the boy's parents confronted my mother telling her to watch her back, my mum was too scared to go down the school on her own to pick us up - and in the end the bully's parents attacked mine. My parents are proud and made us continue at the school for the further 2 weeks till summer holidays (where I was constantly faced with people telling me that my father was dead and my mother would be next - aren't kids charming?)
I and both my brothers had to move to a different middle school as we couldn't face putting up with that level of verbal and physical harassment, and for the following 2 years until my brother moved up to secondary school all was good. All changed when he started at secondary school my parents picked one that was an hour's journey away so that none of the previous bullies would go there and my brother could learn in peace. My brother suffered verbal abuse at his new school for being a ginger geek. Gangs of local kids would be waiting for him when he got off the bus to come home and would beat him up, my parents couldn't do anything about this as he refused to tell them who it was that was doing it, he was scared of them, we were scared for his safety.
This continued until me and my cousin started the same secondary school two years later and we literally had to play body guard home each evening (this must have been humiliating for my brother not only being protected by two girls but two girls nearly two years younger than him). But it was too late the damage had already been done. My brother started getting weaker and thinner no matter how much he ate. He ached like an old man at the age of 15. And was soon diagnosed with renal failure (one of his kidneys' had been damaged so severely from the beatings it no longer worked). And now nearly 8 years on my families day to day life is effected by what those cruel kids done all those years ago.
After going through this experience (and in some ways still living with it) I have come to the conclusion that schools need to face up to the responsibility of bullying, not just turning a blind eye to it unless they directly see it. If they know it's happening it's vital they talk to the victim and the bully to try and resolve it as soon as possible or it could develop into something much more sinister.
But above all else the main people that can help reduce bullying are the parents of those that bully, they have to face up to their responsibility as a parent and not only teach their child right from wrong but through punishment and rewards ensure that it is carried out.
I personally think those that aren't willing to face up to their responsibilities should firstly have laws pushing them into it (perhaps with fines etc put into place to ensure that those parents who just don't seem to care have an incentive to care) and if that doesn't work the child taken away from the parent and into care. (Yes I know it sounds harsh but letting someone drag up their child with no moral boundaries is just setting them up for a life of misery and inflicting misery on those around them).
Yes I have strong views. But I feel they are justified - people have the right to raise their children however they please but when it starts hurting other people, someone has to step up and take responsibility!
As a parent of a 7 and 5 year old, bullying is an issue that fills me with dread. Yes, we worry more about our children being abducted, or abused by an adult, but thankfully these incidents, are statistically a lot less likely to happen than bullying especially as vigilance against these things is more in a parent's control. However, bullying is not and when we send our precious babies off to school we pretty much relinquish their care for six hours a day to, let's face it, people we don't know that well ourselves!
Children, even at nursery age will have to deal with fights and pushing and shoving over toys but at this stage it is not classed as bullying as the children do not yet have adequate control over their emotions. It is when they are older and deliberately set out to pick on one particular person that it becomes more heinous and worrying.
Thankfully, other than some mild name calling we have not yet had to deal with a serious issue of bullying. It is always difficult to decide what to tell your children to do in these matters. My advice to my children is that if someone hurts them or is taunting them they must tell a teacher at once. On the other hand, I know that often bullies can be deterred by the 'if they shove you, shove them back' method, as quite often they think their target is weak and are surprised if they fight back and often then leave that child alone. However, we teach them that hitting, violence etc. is not acceptable so it's difficult as you don't want to give them mixed or confusing messages.
Often bullying becomes worse if the child does tell and just becomes less overt and more sneaky which is why children often don't tell what is happening to them straight away and because they don't want to be seen as a tell tale.
Apart from worrying about my child being bullied, I also worry about him or her becoming a bully. I have taught them right from wrong but what I remember vividly from my school days is a girl who suffered bullying at the hands of a group of girls. When a new, introverted slightly odd looking girl started in the class the attention went onto her and the previously bullied girl started bullying her too and became a member of that group. She chose to bully to protect herself from being the target again and so became a bully herself! Who your children mix with can have a catastrophic effect on all your teaching as the respect they crave from their peer group should not be underestimated. I am not so naive to think therefore that incidents involving my own children bullying is an absolute impossibility, although I hope and pray not and that my efforts will outweigh any negative peer pressure they come up against.
I myself would, if allowed to give in to my urges, deal with things myself either through the child doing the bullying or their parents. At the park the other week my children were playing imaginary games with two friends without problem when a little boy came along and started calling my son horrible names which made him cry. If I had listened to my baser instincts I would have taken said boy by the ankles and dangled him from the top of the climbing frame to elicit an apology but fortunately I was able to control myself and to tell my son to just ignore him. Besides you never know how big their parents are and if you say a word to the offensive brat they might come over and bash you up for having a go at their kid!!!! I watch what my children are up to and so if I think they are being out of order I will tell them myself but many parents do just let their kids run riot in public places and haven't a clue what they are doing or to whom!
Getting back to the issue, schools have to be more vigilant. At my children's school it appears to be that a couple of lunchtime assistants are employed to monitor the playground together with one teacher. I do think that, depending on the size of the school, there needs to be a higher ratio of grown ups to children and they need to walk around and check up on the kids rather than just standing in one place chatting and waiting for upset children to come to them. One good thing they do is that the reception year play separately in a smaller playground by themselves and are monitored separately. Perhaps if they divided the rest of the school in half it would help further having the bigger, larger children in a separate group to the other smaller children.
You cannot escape the fact that it starts with parenting. Children who bully often have issues themselves so the place to start, is without doubt for me, with the parents. We as a society need to make it clear to our children what is and what is not acceptable behaviour.
Unfortunately, many children live in households where a father bullies them or their mother or vice versa, their siblings bully them and so it is a way of life for many and not perceived as being particularly wrong. This needs to change but sadly, probably won't as often childhood experiences of parenting are repeated somewhat within the next generation. The pressures of everyday life means it is difficult for parents to keep an eye on what their children are doing and who they are mixing with. A bad crowd can turn the nicest kid into a bully or tearaway in no time.
Secondly, schools can talk all they want about having anti-bullying policies but they need to follow through with them to the letter until the issue is resolved. Often, the issue is swept aside as nothing more than childish rough and tumble and this is not acceptable. Bullying incidents should be mentioned in assembly and the perpetrators made to stand up and apologise in front of the whole school. Perhaps a policeman could be brought in once or twice a year to speak to the school and to those who have been found to be bullying and put the fear of god into them. I really don't know what would work but we must never give up trying as lives can be and are lost due to bullying, whether by the bullies themselves in the most serious of cases, or by the bullied, who are so victimised and terrified that they take their own life rather than face another day of torment.
I hope I never have to deal with this issue in respect of my children but I sadly feel that there will be many children who will not escape it and cannot see it ever being truly eradicated as it is a darker part of human nature but when it rears its head, it can and should be dealt with swiftly and harshly to get the message across that it will not be tolerated.
Thanks for reading. x
also on ciao
Bullying in schools needs to be stopped. It's becoming more and more of an issue and is no longer seen with just older children.
We had an issue with bullying when my son was at his old school. We were informed that at least 3 children had pinned my son to the floor in the playground and were kicking and punching him. What had my son done to deserve this? The answer is as far as im aware nothing. However the way it was dealt with we were never given the chance to get a reason from the children involved. My son was 6 at the time.
The whole thing was dealt with in my opinion in a ridiculous way in an attempt to make the incident appear less than it was. Seriously? How can 3 children kicking and hitting a defenceless child whom is known by the staff to have learning difficulties not serious?
We were given no real information except that it was being dealt with. They would not explain what had started this disgusting behaviour, what the childrens names were or even what punishment was involved for the children involved in this act. The most information I received was from a parent of one of the children who came to apologise to me. They were obviously highly embarassed and appeared not to want to discuss it, however they did mention the parents of all the children had been called in to the head. The punishment of the children? I have no idea to this day.
We tried to discuss it with our son, but as he has learning difficulties he didnt really even see it as bullying (this seems to have happened before though on what scale we are unsure) he just knew they were hurting him.
Over his time at this school there were further instances with various other children. Now while I may seem like an overprotective parent looking for anything that I can yell bully at this is not the case. Another example was a child hitting my son and calling him the four letter c word. So I defy anyone to think that we looked for things to make an issue about which werent an issue at all.
Again I was never told about the childs punishment, it just appeared they wanted it all swept under the carpet. If they dont accept theres bullying they have to do nothing about it and the schools name remains untarnished.
Schools seem to like to make a big deal to outsiders about bullying not being acceptable with their posters and campaigns but I feel this is far from the truth.
How can we resolve bullying? I genuinely dont have a decent answer, but I do feel that staff should be given proper training in the signs and what to do. If a child is being repeatedly bullied (as was the case of my son who as i mentioned previously has learning difficulties, and as such some children just didnt "get him" ) then the staff should take note of this and make it their business to watch the children more carefully. Also more staff at break times as no-one can realistically expect 2 or 3 people to beable to watch a few hundred children all at once. Also maybe when designing new schools, not allow for areas that can allow children to be hidden from view.
You'll never get rid of bullying but im sure there are far more effective ways to deal with it than what are in place at the moment.
Thankfully for us we dont have these problems anylonger as our son now goes to a more specialised school for his needs, and bullying is most definently not accepted under any circumstances there. Maybe they are able to prevent it easier because it's a small school with a lot of staff, all I know is that our son is by far happier now than he ever was at his old school.
Through junior school I was always much taller and heavier than everyone else but I can't really remember any bullying going on. At that age kids accept everything and don't care what you look like, everyone's welcome to play. Going into senior school was another matter. Almost from the first day I was bullied for being overweight. I admit I was big, just under 14 stone at the age of 12. My parents tried all sorts to help me lose weight but nothing seemed to work.
There wasn't just one or two bullies, it seemed to be everyone I came into contact with. Nobody backed me up either because they were too scared. The teachers were just as bad, I was sent away, accused of "telling tales" all the time. Thankfully there was only one incident of physical bullying, a girl kicked me and got away with it, saying she was practising some karate moves. It was mainly verbal bullying I endured. "Fatty" being the favourite word, people laughing at me in the corridors, passing around rumours and telling the teachers I'd done something I hadn't to get me into trouble.
I was a quiet girl with very few friends. Physical Education was the worst class, I'd always be last to get picked and laughed at because I couldn't do some things or was always the slowest. One day I just sat down and refused to do anymore. The bullies ALWAYS get away with it.
On my last day at school at the age of 13 I was followed home by some older girls who were taunting me. I was so scared, I couldn't turn round and see who it was. I just kept going. I refused to go back to school, teachers kept coming round trying to get me to go back but I couldn't. Even the thought of going to a different school filled me with dread. Eventually it was decided I should have a home tutor until I was 16, provided by the local council. She was great, really friendly. But she could only come for four hours a week! I only studied English, Maths and Science and the limited hours meant I didn't learn enough to take any GCSEs.
The bullies had won. They'd taken my teenage years away from me, any future career was a no-go and my self-esteem was nonexistent. It's only just now, at the age of 28, that I've got some self-confidence, I've lost a lot of weight - eight stone so far, and I'm now living with my fiance. I'm happy but I know there's always going to be that self-doubt, body issues and a fear of it happening again.
Parents are to blame mostly for bullying, lack of parenting skills are the norm these days. Teachers secondly, although they have no authority now to take control of a student. In my opinion kids should be taught in schools about respect and encouraged to help those in need. Not being allowed to use their mobile phone in class and wander around doing whatever they feel like.
Perhaps the only positive thing that came out of being bullied is they was it's made me respect others. I hate to think if I've upset anyone in any way. I always put others before myself. Those bullies ruined my life, luckily not for good but it will always stay with me whatever I do.
Below are my answers to a interview that was conducted with me by anti-bullying author and expert Robert Higgs in 2007 for his website.
Do you have any experience of being bullied yourself? If so, what did you learn from it?
I received bullying at different times in my life, but I can't say it was the constant obvious campaign I have seen other people endure. I have always had a passive and introverted side, which I have never been scared of showing, but some people have seen it as a weakness.
I lived on a travelling circus until the age of seven, so for about two to three years I was regularly changing schools. The first time I recalled being bullied was at my fifth school and this was just a 'new kid' type of thing. It was down to the fact that I was wearing school uniform shorts at a non-uniform school. It had never been a problem at my previous schools, but this time a gang of kids had decided to make it a target for jeers. The issue was cleared pretty quickly, but - being a kid - I decided I didn't like the school. I cannot recall encountering any other type of bullying for a little while. At the age of seven my parents had stopped running their circus and began their work in the film industry. I then settled into my seventh and final junior school. It was a very small comprehensive school in a local village. It wasn't a bad school, on the whole, in fact it had a lot of very qualities, good teachers and I made some good friends, one at least, has remained a lifelong friend. However, as my friend once said, we were probably good mates because we were one of the few children there who weren't related! This was perhaps the first time I began to appreciate the tribal nature of our species.
I can't say there was ever a specific reason why I was bullied. Some times it was based on my circus background - even though we no longer travelled we still lived in a wagon until I was fourteen years old - but mainly it was because I was not part of the main peer group, their families or the village community. Most of the bullying, as sporadic as it was, came in the form of verbal bullying, but there was at least one occasion I recall being chased around the school by a gang of kids. I was an only child and although the circus community provided me with a huge extended family, I have always been fine with my own company and that can seem a little odd to close-knit communities. By contrast, on the circus we were our own close-knit community and just coming out of a time when anyone on the show who did not come from an established circus family or was considered to be an outside was called a 'josser'. Mind you, I have always been an individualist and a loner of sorts, so I guess I would have attracted bullying in some form whatever school I attended and this would prove true during my time at my secondary school.
At my first school I did encounter the classic after-school fight. In fact, it was an after-school fight that was postponed to a pre-school fight, so I had a whole evening to think about it. Years later I wrote the whole story up in a fictional account that became the first short story I ever sold, called 'Champions'. It was not a good piece of writing, but it exorcised a demon of sorts. Looking back, this was my first introduction to the bully's ultimate display of dominance over a rival.
The after-school fight is a tradition that has probably been around since education institutions were invented. On the face of it the whole matter seems quite fair and straightforward. Two individuals settle their differences once and for all in a square-go contest. It is the classic embodiment of alpha male contests found throughout the mammalian kingdom. Human culture has always had its King's champion who is charged to fight any challenger. How can it be bullying? After all, the bully is defending his 'honour' and has no more advantages than you. Then why does he win so often? And why does the bully continue to bully his victim even after he has proven his physical superiority? The answer is that there is no contest. Real grudge matches or match fights are contest between two consenting people. The after-school fight is rarely attended by two consenting people. The bully, who represented the champion, turns the whole issue on its head. He turns his victim into a parody of the challenger. The victim feels he has to fight in order to stave off more bullying and in a perverse way might actually believe he is not scared of the bully. It is not fair because the bully wants to fight and the victim does not. The bully takes charge by naming the place, the time and, in some cases, even the rules. He is an experienced veteran that has done this time and again, and knows that he can count on support from his home crowd, other scared people who feel strength by being on the bully's right side and by being on this side will not be bullied themselves.
Today, when I teach self-defence to children or adults I use the after school example time and again, as it illustrates so many points about how we allow ourselves to be manipulated into violence. It is all about control. It is like when an abductor threatens their victim with violence if they do not go with them. Why should the victim suddenly trust someone who has given them every reason not to trust them. The after-school fight is just another excuse for the bully to inflict more punishment on his victim and the chances are the abuse will continue and probably escalate after he has finished his little display of dominance.
From his days working on the door, Geoff Thompson famously divided violence up into three different types of fight: three second fights, ambush fights and match fights. The match fight during his time working the doors was a very relevant method for bouncers to use. Alpha male testosterone was at all time high in the 1980s and the frustrated overcrowded masses of Coventry were used to settling things one-on-one. Bouncers learnt to use bullies tactics against them by calling them out for a 'straightner' - this was a sure fire way of taking the violence out of the club and separating the antagonist from his supporters. The civilian of today should not even contemplate 'stepping outside'. This outmoded British tradition has gone along with 'pistols at dawn'. There is no honour in any shape or form. You are likely to be hit by an ashtray on the way out or find yourself fighting off your antagonist's mates outside. We live in an era where the pride a thug might have derived from winning a fight one-on-one has been transplanted to the entertainment he will provide by video-phoning his gang of mates kicking the living the daylights out of an unsuspecting victim.
I also learnt a lot about peer pressure at both my last primary and my secondary school. This has always been a subject that has fascinated me. Pack mentality is something has to be seriously considered in the world of self-defence and anti-bullying. Humans' default behaviour is to act in a small tribe. Whenever the tribe gets big, bullying intensifies unless the group splits. I see this in my parents' zoo all the time with their primate groups. It is particularly noticeable in the lemurs. This is because they are not only some of their most prolific breeders, but because they are one of the most primitive forms of primate in the world. Therefore their behaviours are less complex and virtually textbook. As soon as the group gets too big, usually signalled by the independence of the year's youngest offspring, a male will be bullied by one male and then the entire group. They have to separate them immediately. Interestingly enough it is often quite difficult to start another group with the exiled male, as he will immediately try to challenge any other male he is put into contact with, especially other exiled males. It is a classic example of the abused becoming the abuser.
I think at times that I also bullied, well I did not consciously persecute anyone, but there was the odd occasion, especially in secondary school, that I felt the lure of the pack and for years I felt guilty of standing by while people who considered themselves to be my friends were singled out as victims by the bullies.
My secondary school was a private school. My grandfather had always felt he was wrong in allowing my father to leave his millionaire sand and gravel company in order to pursue a career in the circus, and he wanted to correct that mistake with me. With us all settled now, he agreed to pay for my private education and hoped that I would join the Clubb family business. I loved my grandfather deeply and he was a very loving person who thought the world of me, but as I entered my teens I began to see the strong dictatorial side to his personality. He did not force me to join the family business, but my sense of guilt made me feel that I owed it to him to keep my nose clean at school and not get into trouble. This combined with the shock that my school day was suddenly two hours longer than before and much further away from home, and I made up my mind that the last thing I wanted was a detention. Before my first year was out I had already had a few brushes with the prospect of staying in after school when I had stood up for myself, so I simply made the decision that I would not stick up for myself. For about four years I took any physical punishment that came my way.
So, rather than embracing the new environment I was in I did everything I could to minimize the time I spent at school. I rediscovered my circus culture by making new friends on shows where my relatives worked and I lived two different lives - one was an exciting life on the road and the other was miserable existence I called school. It was a boarding school, so day pupils were second class citizens, particularly those who did not show any effort in joining in with after school clubs or Saturday morning activities - the whole concept of 'having fun at school' seemed like an oxymoron to me. Bullying was never going to be far away.
I went to a Quaker school for some reason - no one on either side the circus or 'josser' side of my family is or has been a Quaker as far as I know. The Society of Friends is known for its pacifist values. In theory you would think a school with this ethos behind it would promote a peaceful atmosphere. Things could not have been further from the truth for me and some others. For the first three years I was at the school we had a headmaster who was overly lenient and for the remainder of my time spent there we had one who inconsistently strict.
Within my first term at the school a fifth form boy (year 11) hung himself because of the bullying he had experienced. It wasn't an especially rough school, but by the time I was reaching that year, myself, we had had more knife amnesties than the City of London. Also the school was so desperate for pupils that they were taking in anyone who could pay the fees, this included one pupil who had apparently been expelled from six previous schools. One student was given three chances before he was expelled - each chance ended in him hitting a teacher. Meanwhile I was taking my place in the pecking order. It was ironic because at home I had already got into martial arts and was doing very well at it. By the age of fifteen I had won tournaments and we were all sparring with adults, and they weren't going that easy on us either. Yet at school the fear of getting into trouble, upsetting my grandfather and spending anymore time at the place than needed was enough to keep this side of my personality well and truly in check. Keeping my nose clean did not mean I was performing well in my school work either. In fact, I put minimum effort in, allowed myself to dream, and eventually produced pretty bad exam results.
It could have been worse. A fellow class pupil who had adopted me as his 'best friend' faced some severe abuse from almost everyone. He was small, had prominent sticking out ears and a distinctive speech impediment that led to him being given the nickname of 'Rodent' and various other derivatives from the same theme. Poor bloke, he suffered so badly that he had plastic surgery on his ears and went to speech therapy sessions. Sadly but predictably this did not change a thing and he was hounded out of the school by the time we entered the sixth form. It was not how he looked or sounded that was the issue. It was his 'victim' personality. For years he had put up with abuse from another kid who took medication to control his mood swings. This particular kid was into the post-80s Death Metal scene and when he was not scratching inverted crosses into his arm or drawing them in blood on his desk, his favourite past-time was harassing this little guy. The Death Metal fan left before the sixth form, but sadly his bullying legacy lived on and my little 'friend' finally gave up and left before entering the upper sixth.
By the time I knew I had blown it with my GCSE's I finally made a decision to stop living my double life. My grandfather spoke to me about my exam results in very solemn tones and was clearly disappointed. He wasn't very upset with me, the results weren't abysmal, although I think he washed his hands of me completely when I announced my ambition now was to become a 'circus knife thrower'. Nevertheless he felt that I might as well stay on for the sixth form, since I had come this far. My grandfather knew I wasn't entering his family business and so that line of pressure was off. I decided to have one last go at formal education and this time I would do it on my terms.
Many things seemingly conspired to make my life better once I made this decision. We had a new games teacher. Because I had never been a natural at any of the traditional sports nor had much of an interest in them, our previous games teachers had taken little notice of me. He was a bit of bully himself, although he tried to hide it by coming down hard on what he saw as bullying. He had little control of his temper when things do not go his way and I recall him once shouting at entire changing room after an item of his property had gone missing, 'You are all a bunch of wimps!' The relevance of this statement still escapes me. Coordination had never been my strong point and I remember him once asking in front an entire class 'are you dyslexic?' (our school had a big dyslexic department). I replied that I wasn't. 'Well, you should be' he jeered. I laughed at the time, but I don't think it would make anybody's list of motivational quotes. His last final patronising report on me read something like, 'James (at school I was always called that) will never be an outstanding sportsman, but he tries very hard'. The only thing I tried very hard at was to get out of games.
A year after he wrote that report I won my county's martial arts tournament and I kept on winning. The new games teacher noticed my running ability and entered me in the country athletics four hundred metres, he also regularly put me in cross country events and before my first year in the sixth form was out I was even allowed to teach an informal martial arts class. I left the sixth form with a complete turn around with my grades, passing nearly every subject I did with high marks and even landing a lead role in the school play. Despite always liking drama, I had stayed away from it during my pre-sixth form years for fear of having to work on after school and pure lack of confidence. Now I was one of those day pupils who thought nothing of staying overnight at the school and I even took a business studies trip to Prague.
All of this didn't change straight away. I was already beginning to not care much about the consequences of revealing my real self at different stages during my time in the fifth form. I ended up befriending one of the toughest kids in the school who was shocked at discovering the fact that I could actually fight. This was not just derived from my martial arts skills, but also from my circus background. Once he was on side I never had to fight again. Just his word that I could handle myself and the mystique of the marital arts was enough to keep any prospective bullies at bay. To begin with I wasn't particularly popular, but I made friends and before long I enjoyed my social life at school at a healthy level.
I have seen bullying in the circus, although I have never experienced it myself. It can be a very hard life and physically demanding life. Circus people are a culture unto themselves and sometimes they find themselves at odds with a whole host of different enemies as they travel from place to place. If one balances this with the egotism of showbusiness it is not difficult to imagine the type of friction that can occur. Just like any community, pecking orders among the men and women form, and this can cause a whole range of problems. I have seen initiation rituals go on for weeks on end for new boys in some shows. I have also heard of horrid campaigns being waged against individuals by groups within the community. Circus people can be the warmest and most wonderful people in the world, but humans are humans, and the tribal mentality affects us all. Nevertheless, this is all nothing compared to the bullying I have seen circus families endure by the media. I won't go into this suffice to say that this type of persecution got so bad that at one stage, a friend of my family had her daughter refused admission into a school purely because of her circus background.
It may come as surprise to some that there is a lot of bullying in the martial arts community. I would say it is quite rife in some, what with their hierarchical structures and insecure instructors developing religious cult-like followings. I know of at least two high ranked black belts who fear leaving their club or even looking at another school - and they pay for the privilege of having this power. This is why I teach my students empowerment as quickly as possible. I create situations, where they discover things for themselves and I make it their responsibility to help their training partner learn. All my students are taught to think like teachers. Furthermore I make it a requirement in the later grades to actually research other martial arts of their own choosing.
A dramatic turn in martial arts for me was to understand the concept of taking control. I had done it small exercises throughout my life, but it was only through really looking into my training and doing my own research outside of martial arts that it really clicked. I was miserable because I chose to be miserable. It is a very bitter pill to swallow, but victims are not selected, they volunteer. This may seem harsh, but until a prospective victim understands this mindset the chances are they will be bullied again and again. That school bully will manifest himself in every aspect of the victim's life. He will appear as a parent, a wife, a son, a daughter, a boss and even within the actual victim. He will be the inner voice that suppresses the victim every time the victim feels ambition.
As an instructor is it good to teach children about fear and adrenaline so they better understand confrontation?
One of the best things to teach anyone who enters an activity that deals with physical confrontation is that everyone feels fear. Children are too often brought up on the belief that courage is the absence of fear. It is not a correct definition. I do not like the concept of fearlessness. What would be brave in doing something that presented no challenge?
It is very important for children to understand that fear is not an unnatural or shameful feeling. It is a natural and useful tool if we understand how to use it. I openly discuss fear with the child students in my class virtually every lesson in some form. By having a good understand of not only what is happening within us, but also in other people, we are much better equipped in dealing with physical confrontation.
Can you give examples of the real life bullying situations that young people face?
The first type of bullying I recognise is the type that sneaks up on children without them knowing it is peer pressure. All around them they are being coaxed to conform to what everyone else feels is normal. Then they are further coaxed into doing things that they do not feel happy about. Finally they are coaxed into bullying. It is amazing to see what terrible things otherwise good-natured people will do to ensure that they are not excluded from a peer group. Our literature and art is full of examples of this behaviour from 'Lord of the Flies' to 'Casualties of War'.
Teasing can quite easily become bullying. There is nothing wrong with harmless practical jokes and I believe we all can benefit from good-natured teasing to stop ourselves from taking life too seriously- after all, wasn't this a vital function the Fool or Court Jester, to remind a King he was only mortal. However, once it becomes continually one-sided it becomes bullying.
Verbal bullying is very complex because it deals with psychology and behaviour, which cannot be measured as clinically as the more physical sciences. We are all unique, but we do see patterns. An example of a subtle type of bullying I believe is not often recognised is the way a member of a group has their ideas completely ignored. They are not even considered or they are met with non-productive argumentative responses. Young people, because of their age, are too often not valued for their input and this can be a type of bullying. In showbusiness there is a tradition, in some circles, of 'earning your dues'. I am not entirely sure whether I am opposed to it, but from what I learnt during my short spell as a professional wrestling promoter there is a lot of what cannot be considered anything less than jealous and insecure bullying. The film Swimming Sharks has some great examples of this type of bullying in the film world. In fact, the film presents a very interesting insight into the whole nature of systemized bullying. It is definitely one of the best satirical commentaries on the world of showbusiness I have ever seen.
By definition bullying is when one person misuses some form of advantage he has over another unjustly. If we look at the rise in recreational crime over the twentieth century and into the twenty-first century, we can see that bullying is at the core of so many violent offences from 'happy slapping' to serial killing.
What are the most important concepts to teach bullied children?
First of all teach them the concept of respect. Self-respect first - are you worth protecting? This then spills over into an understanding of parameters. They learn to create their personal parameters both mentally and physically. They understand that they are important and decide whether someone can be trusted to go inside their parameter. By appealing to their sense of empathy they also understand not to breach another person's parameters. They learn to respect others and therefore feel more secure.
Bullying, as we are told time and again, is all about insecurity. A bully is likely to be a person who feels inadequate in some way. If he is not being bullied by another individual or been bullied by another individual he is being bullied by himself. Feeling bad about himself in some way, he looks for someone else who he feels represents this fault. So, straight from the beginning we are not only teaching a person not to become a bully's victim but also not to become a bully.
The concept of what Geoff Thompson termed the "fence" comes from this parameter setting. That is all what the fence is, a parameter. It is a proactive way of controlling the gap between you and everyone else. You decide who is allowed into your personal space. This puts you in control of every situation.
I also emphasize hard physical training. Let's face facts healthy children are naturally boisterous with each other. Brothers and sisters spar all the time, playing what is essentially a full-contact game. Sometimes they go too far and learn the limits of the game. It always amused me how children would then enter a martial arts class and either taught "touch contact" sparring or no sparring at all - yet this was the place they were supposedly learning combat. Back home they are kicking the crap out of each other, but go to a martial arts lesson learning abstract movements and, if they are lucky, play a game of tag. It just seemed silly to me, so our games are controlled, but offer plenty of resistance and plenty of scope to test out what works. How are they supposed to deal with pressure when they don't train for it?
When bullied children attend your class, how quickly do you see a change in their attitude and what do you think brings about this change?
There is no set time limit. Every child is different and that is why we take as individualized approach as possible. If there is a child with a particular problem I will, with the parents' consent, sit down and listen. This is a key component. I listen to exactly what the problem really is and when possible I will encourage the child to go deeper into the problem. Then we will look for an active solution. Respect is our first tenet and that pretty much amounts to attitude in my book. Without the right attitude, all the techniques in the world are not going to help you. A lot of this is forged through the hard - but safe and fun - physical training. Some times, with the parents' and the child's consent, we really put them through the mill. We make them re-live and face their fears by replicating them the best we can. We tell them that we will put them through hell, if they believe it will help. Frankyl said it best in his 'Man's Search for meaning', that anyone will tolerate suffering if they have a strong enough meaning. I have seen a twelve year old child grapple on the floor against a fourteen year old experienced player for ten minutes straight without giving in. He spent the majority of the time trying to get free from virtually every submission position there was, never in a good position himself. Yet all the way he had words of encouragement coming from me, other students and his step-dad. After coming out of the bout he was re-energized at the thought that the bully he faced was nothing by comparison, and not long afterwards he actually defended his younger sister and cousins by standing his ground against a group bullies at a swimming bath. He didn't have to fight, the attitude and intent was all there.
Next we teach Awareness. This does not just mean being switched on to what is going on around you, but also what is going on inside you. I know when this information is sinking in when I start getting reports back from the parents that their son or daughter has suddenly become more aware of their personal space and has become more observant. Awareness of the self, as previously mentioned, is vital; lack of understanding leads to some of the greatest misery in a child. This is especially evident when they hit their teens and they crave control. By being aware of yourself you learn a sense of independence.
After awareness we look at the Courage. Courage to me is defined by the actions we take in the face of something we fear. This is connected to the respect or attitude tenet.
Then we have discipline. Our classes are pretty informal and fun places to be. That's because the hard work and honesty we do our best to inspire means that there is little need for strict hierarchical structures or dozens of rituals. Discipline is the strength to be able to keep order of you and to stick with the plan.
Finally we have the Open Mind tenet, which teaches adaptability and lack of prejudice. This is vital survival in a social and survival context. We put Open Mind last because the other tenets need to be in place first in order for an individual to get the best out of doing their own research.
Is violence/fighting back the right solution to bullying?
One of the most important things for me is to get the parents on side. It is so important if you are serious about teaching real self-defence to children to have a good working relationship with parents. I have always strived for this. After all, self-defence is a life skill; it's a habit, and who better to monitor this than parents. Instructor/parent groups are being formed in clubs, but this is more to do with instructors covering their backs in line with 'Child Protection'. I believe they can be really utilized to get the maximum benefit out of the training. Sadly martial arts have become 'just another club' in the mind of many parents, chosen to give the child another activity to his weekly schedule. There is also a lot of the crèche mentality, where parents just dump their children in a class and instructors, who are trying to run a business, are too scared to tell them whether or not the class is suitable.
I have had largely good experiences with parents who take their children to my classes. Unfortunately I have had the odd bad one as well. Some think it is a magic bullet and somehow one hour a week in my class is going to give their child the discipline they don't receive at home or at school. The worst, however, are those who give their children mixed messages. On one occasion I had a situation with a mother who had told her son on no account was he allowed to fight in school, no matter what happened to him - and then she sent him to a self-defence lesson. Meanwhile I was teaching him what to do if things got physical. The result was he ignored us both. He fought when it wasn't necessary. He was bullied at every school he went to - in the same manner at every school - and he also bullied others.
I can speak from experience that once I was no longer worried about the consequences of standing up for myself, everything changed. In fact, there was one isolated occasion, where my father told me outright to face up to one kid and - being 'old school' - punch him in the nose. It was not the blunt advice I would give a kid, but nevertheless I approached this child, who had stolen something from me quite blatantly, with every intention of getting stuck into him if he did not return my property. Before a word left my mouth he gave me the item back straight away with some feeble excuse about making a mistake. Perhaps his conscience had kicked in, but at the time I was convinced he could feel that I meant business. This is a crude and not necessarily good example, but it does demonstrate how a parent can empower a child. For that moment I was back on the circus, where I did not worry about upsetting my grandfather or the consequences of being stuck in school half an hour longer than usual.
Parents have to give their children permission to fight back - and this means against anyone. They have to be sure that they can rely on their child's character not to pick the fight and use whatever means to prevent violence. Then they can be sure that if their child involved in a physical situation, they did it for a good reason. One parent, a good friend of mine, sent her son to a kickboxing class I was running. This was not a self-defence class, as I hadn't founded CCMA yet, but nevertheless this friend of mine wanted her son to learn something in order to fight back. She had tried the teacher route and numerous other ways, but what was happening was her son was continually getting physically abused. To this day she thanks me for the tiny amount of training her son learnt at my class, but I refuse to accept the praise. It wasn't my classes that helped him out, it was his mother. She told her son, that she supported him all the way. She told him that he if things got physical she understood that his response was in self-defence and she would stand by him no matter what happened with the school. It took this permission and assurance from his mother that gave this child the attitude to fight back. He only had to do it once and actually beat the bully, who became his friend not long afterwards.
My assistant instructor, Richard Barnes (one of Geoff Thompson's original black belts), put the argument regarding the fears parents might have with have their children learn self-defence: 'Does a bully have more right to get physical than your child?' In essence, by telling our children, they are not allowed to fight back you are telling them they are powerless when someone attacks them.
Good books for parents to read include Gavin De Becker's Protecting the Gift: Keeping Children and Teenagers Safe (and Parents Sane). De Becker is a threat management specialist in the USA and his book The Gift of Fear is read like a bible in my adult class. He believes wholeheartedly in teaching children independence as early as possible with adult support. After all, what is self-defence if it is not about independence.
What do you think are the keys to making someone's body language more confident?
First of all, simply be confident. The way you act and move should be an outward manifestation of how you want to be. Of course, when you are feeling the full affects of adrenaline these feelings are best hidden by a few simple techniques, but in everyday life you need to feel confident by being inwardly aware of yourself. As I have taken a more and more individualized approach to self-defence I have actually taken all techniques out of my syllabus and worked using an organic process of Common sense, Principles, Strategies and Tactics. This means that I devise games and activities where children find out themselves what works. It includes loads of role-play and scenario work that deals with the pre-fight issues.
On a physical level I would say that confident body language is best displayed with a relaxed yet erect posture. The head should always be up and the strides purposeful. We teach people to always walk with a purpose.
What do you think children who bully look for in a target?
To put it simply: vulnerability. This can be displayed by an obvious lack of confidence, which often goes hand in hand with a lack of awareness. For example, both unconfident and unaware people often look down when they walk or stand in public. On a purely physical level just by being alone makes you a target. Less obvious signs of vulnerability can be an apparent show of over cockiness. Some people carry this off okay, but others attract unwanted attention. A big mistake I have witnessed in children who try to be confident is to adopt a 'bad attitude'. This just gets more negative attention and, if you are not careful, you become a bully yourself.
We do an exercise in our club where the majority of the class wander around the mats while a small minority put on big head guards and prowl around waiting to attack. The majority of the club know that those wearing the headguards will eventually attack, so they adopt different strategies to protect themselves ahead of time. Sometimes the prowling headguard group will take ages before they attack and will simply just mingle with the rest of the group or stalk the outside of the mats. There is a lot people learn from this exercise regarding who the prowlers select as their first victims and also how the other children develop their own protective strategies.
Why do you think people bully?
Insecurity without a doubt is at the core of bullying. Bullies attack people because there is something about them they either fear or something about them they find too familiar. Bully followers add support so that they are not in firing line. There is not enough actually done on the subject of bully-followers, who are just little bullies really. No one actually has power, people give it to them. The Nazis, perhaps one of modern history's greatest examples of political bullies, did not just claim power they were allowed it and yet they were a minority. The teenage novella The Wave by Todd Strasser is a great fictional account of a true experiment that was carried out in a high school, called 'The Third Wave', which scarily proved just how easy it was for a bullying Nazi-type ideology to ensnare the minds of the young. I believe there was also a two-part TV film made about it.
However, when one person makes the choice to stand by his morals and does not agree to follow a bully it sets an example for others, and it weakens the bully's strength. It is not easy to do, but by doing nothing be allow the bullying to continue and we allow the bully to have his own way.
If someone who's being bullied is reading this interview now, what would you say to them?
Talk to people. The more people you discuss the matter with the less stressful it will be. Bullies rely on your silence. Remember, it is all about taking charge. They are in control so long as you are suffering. Try speaking to them privately and asking them what their problem with you is. Without an audience they become less powerful and the fact that you have taking control in setting up the meeting puts them in an uncomfortable position, you are also organizing things on your terms. When in public be quick to draw attention to your situation and, again, don't be afraid to ask them awkward questions as well as making repetitive statements like 'stop bullying me!'
It is very easy to say and not so easy to do, but only when bullies are stood up properly do they really stop. This has happened throughout history and has been proven time and again. A good teenage novel on the subject about one boy who refused to give in to a school gang is The Chocolate War by Robert Cormier. Another great book on children's self-defence (unfortunately they are very rare) is The Safe Zone by Donna Chaiet and Francine Russell. This particularly important in teaching children about their intuition and setting boundaries.
Bullying in schools is a part of the growing up process, I was lucky in the fact I never got physically picked on as I was always one of the biggest in my class however I was always very quiet and was often bullied due to my size and weight. I was the butt of many jokes and my appearance became quite a big issue to me.
I was by far one of the bullied kids that got off lightly, there was a girl in my class who didn't have many friends, she had a short temper and got constantly bullied, I always wondered why she come to school every day to put up with abuse, I myself avoided school as much as possible with only 56% attendance in my final year.
Then one day whilst talking to this girl, not long after christmas, I asked how her holiday had been and she answered with such great honesty, her dad came home drunk christmas eve and all the presents went on fire, then the whole family got a christmas beating, it dawned on me that she came to school because the bullying at home was much worse.
Bullying in any form is appalling and unfortunately leaving school doesn't mean the bullying will stop, some times the bullies just get older and never grow up, being a child is hard and this is the case even if your the bully, it is hard to fit in and I don't think anyone every fully feels like they belong.
Bullying can make you stronger and for years I ignored it and put up with it however there is only so much you can take and I now have a social anxiety disorder which is due to the years of name calling and jokes.
The most worrying thing is that nowadays bullying as gotten worse, with mobile phones and the internet bullies are finding more and more ways to get to there victims and there are also more serious attacks taking place. Bullying no longer stops when you leave the school gate.
I know that by being bullied I missed out on a lot, mainly a full education. I passed my GCSE's but didn't go on to collage or university in fear of the same treatment.
I have no idea how the schools or parents should deal with the problem and with 2 young children I worry they will get bullied or even worse be a bully.
I was bullied in school from the age of around 8 years old. I can't think of how, or why, the bullying started, but all I can remember is walking home one day after school, and two lads on the opposite side of the road started to shout abuse over to me. The comments were about my size. I was a chubby kid, but had not taken any notice of my size before because no one had commented on it.
From that day on the comments, looking and whispering, when I walked passed other kids in school, started. I don't remember too much from my middle school, but just the fact that I remember walking up to school in the morning with tears streaming down my face. I was very good at hiding the tears or hurt from my parents.
When I started secondary school, I couldn't hide the bullying any more. None of the friends that I did have from my middle school, were to attend my secondary school, so you can imagine how nervous I was!
The first day I arrived we were split up into the form classes for that year. I can remember being sat in the classroom, with all the other kids who had started this school with friends, and just wanting to run. In the afternoon we had an assembly and I sat next to a girl who also did not know anyone. By the end of the day we were getting on like a house on fire, and I finally thought that it wasn't going to be that bad. The bullying had gone when I left my middle school.
After my first week I was starting to settle into the school. My problems started to arise when I was placed next to a girl I did not know in a Geography lesson. The lesson started off well enough, until we were told that we had to do an exercise. The girl said that we could cheat, and for the life of me I cannot even remember how we were going to cheat, but I said no. I wasn't about to cheat on something. It's just not in my nature. As soon as i said no, the girl gave me the most surprised look I had seen, and would not talk to me for the rest of the day.
Unbeknown to me, this girl was, apparently, the biggest bully that had come to the school, and I had just told her I wasn't going to go along with her plan! From that day onwards my life became hell.
I was called names, laughed at and no one would speak to me for days, and eventually it ended up for weeks. I told my parents about what was happening and my mother went to school to speak to the Headteacher. When I told him what was happening, he laughed and told me and my mum that he did not believe that the amount of children I had mentioned to him were bullying him. I had told him that nearly all of the children out my year were bullying me in some way. I can always remember him saying to me "That's ridiculous!" and having a smile on his face, as though it was a joke. The problem was, it was true. I know that there were about 6 kids out of all my year who did not bully me in any way.
Towards the last year of school the problem became that bad that I didn't want to go to school and I missed a lot of my education. I even thought that if I wasn't here any more then the bullying would no longer go on and I would be free. I am so glad that I took that no further.
The last year of school was just something that I wanted to get over and done with. I wasn't concentrating on my schoolwork or exams, but just on the fact that I wouldn't have to go there no more.
My last day at school was amazing for me. We finished at 11am and I had to collect a book from the Maths department on my way home. I collected the book and walked out of that school with such a beaming smile on my face! I can remember walking up the hill to the bus stop and feeling so proud and just ecstatically happy that I had managed to go through 5 years of hell and come out the other end. What a feeling!!
I did not get the grades that I needed for college, but went to college straight after finishing school to re-take some GCSE's and study for my A-Levels.
The first day I went to college I got the feeling of dread again in the pit of my stomach. I walked into the classroom and everyone was introducing themselves to one another and for the first time I felt as though this was going to be ok and it was. I spent 3 years at college and loved every minute of it and not once did I see any bullying.
I am now 30 and my experience at school, and what I went through, helped me to gain the confidence that I possess today. In some ways I thank the bullies, as I am such a better person for my experience. I have gone through so much, and have grasped lots of learning opportunities, to make me the better person that I am today.
I have seen some of the people that bullied me since leaving school and I pity them. Their life has not turned out the best i.e. drugs, prison etc. What goes around, comes around.
BULLYING IN SCHOOLS.
Bullying in school can be one of the most frightening experiences children have to cope with whilst growing up. There are no specific rules that work in dealing with 'cowards' that bully our children.
I changed comprehensive school three times from the age of thirteen to sixteen, and I cannot remember a more lonely or frightening experience. My parents went through a divorce and as a result my brothers and I moved three times.
I had made good childhood friends during primary and first school, which I had to leave behind more or less one month after starting secondary school. My first change was temporary as my mother was waiting for a house in a new location to be finalised. This school was quite 'posh' and ahead academically from my previous school, so my work was inferior to other pupils. I would be laughed at in class for not knowing the answers, and no one would speak to me. I spent many a lunchtime on my own lonely and afraid. Times were hard back then and my mother asked me to dye a white jumper green (uniform), as she hadn't the time or money to get me a new one. Well, this jumper turned out a blotchy green, and everyone whispered and laughed at it behind my back. This intimidated me and made me feel insecure.
Time passed by but things did not really improve. I did not make any friends and during a P.E. lesson one girl pushed me so hard I fell down flat on my face. This was followed by laughter and jibes, until the teacher stopped them. I cried myself to sleep that night and was petrified to go to school the next morning. I lost weight with stress.
I did not tell my mother, as she had her own problems. She would only worry if I had told her. I carried on at this school for about 12 months, although I latched on to a few 'so called mates', I didn't bond with anyone.
I moved to another comprehensive school in the Midlands, and this one was totally opposite to the first 'posh' school. This one was 'ROUGH' compared to the other school.
I seemed to be a little ahead of some of my class, but this did not help me. Fellow pupils called me a 'Creep' 'Geek' 'Swotter', and many other things. Bullies like to be the first to start a row.
One day I was minding my own business, when a girl came up to me gave me a shove and said someone had told her I called her a bad name, I won't repeat the actual words as they were swear words. (I didn't of course). I replied I had not called her anything, but she proceeded to give me a proper good bashing. I had a black eye, swollen forehead, lots of hair missing. I duly cried all the way home , sick to my stomach and wondering how I could hide these bruises. My mother saw them and went crazy. I can't quite recall what actually happened. She did go to the school and complain, but nothing changed!
I don't know if what I did next was the right or wrong thing to do to combat bullying in my case it helped, I had gained an inner strength and found I had the nerve to do this: -
The next day, I dressed up for school in what I considered fashion at the time and put on a little make up to hide the bruises on my face. I waited until lunchtime when I sort out the girl who gave me a beating. I walked straight over to her and punched her straight on the end of her nose with all the strength I could muster. I shouted at her, and her friends to leave me alone.
It gave me great pleasure to see their shocked faces, and I became slowly more popular, however, I was then going through rebellion and did not take my education seriously, and missed a lot of school. I got involved with the wrong crowd, (that's another story).
My advice is try and stand up for yourself (verbally). Please don't do what I did; this could be dangerous in this day and age. Never show the bullies you are affected by their jibes, as this will make it worse for you. Go to school with your head held high, and try and act confident. Keep fit and feel good about yourself. Remember a bully is a coward, and they are insecure with themselves, so try and find a weakness of theirs, and bite back occasionally, especially when their friends are with them. Show them what it feels like to be humiliated and intimidated.
Schools need more power to discipline children these days. A little fear hurt no one, and to be honest did me good, as I would think twice before doing something wrong, as the consequences would not be nice. Slap of a cane hurt!
I would feel really great if this read has helped anyone out there!
Through out my life i have been a target for abuse and bullying, especially while i was in school.
It was proberly around the age of 8 when i started to be bullied all the way until i left secondary school, so to me it felt like a way of life if you understand what i mean, that everyday i was the target of abuse so i never new anything different.
I have always carried a few extra pounds, but when i recently found a few pictures of myself at school i was far from big, so the question i asked myself was why was i the target. I used to get called names which were really harsh, i used to get left out and riddiculed, the only thing i can say now is i was lucky it was only mental torture not phisical as well. I suppose the more bullied i got the more i ate to try and comfort myself, which made me get bullied even more. I was in a cirlcle i couldn't get out of.
Children can be very mean, however i do believe a lot of this can be put down to ignorance. It can make a bully feel very big to be the one who causes the pain.
Even though i have been targeted all of my life i am not innocent, when i was around 15 i started to retaliate, where i then became the bully towards the people who had done it to me. I can understand why i became a bully, out of relaliation, pain and just having enough, but when i was a child i didn't understand why others treated me badly. There is no excuse what i did, and i feel terrible still years later, but when i look back that was the last resort in my head. For years i ran home from school and hid in my bedroom crying myself to sleep, this was defently the worst time in my life, i hated my life and didn't want to exist.
Luckily I went to a nice school where bullying (in my year at least) wasn't really that much of an issue, I don't know if that was that we had a lucky year who got on reasonably well, that the school dealt with it appropriately, or that it went on completely un-noticed.
Bullying is the act of one person or group of people mentally or physically abusing another person continueously (sp?), this can be in a range of extremities, from every now and then, to everyday making life unbearable.
I remember in primary school there was one boy who would pick on me, but it was sooo long ago that I quite honestly don't remember how bad it got, I know one day he was chasing me around the school yard, and I ran head first into a metal sleeper type thing, and got knocked out...and I remember that been the end of the torment. But as it was 15 years ago, its hard to remember just how bad it was (I don't even remember his name!).
More recently was my younger brother; although completely happy and outgoing, he had a bully who was horrible. He was also in Primary School, and this little boy would kick him, hit him, and emotionally hurt him too (picking on his verbally). My little brother was a strong little boy, and he didn't let it show that he was hurting, he openly told my mum where his bruises were coming from, and she promtly went to the HeadMaster, who said it was "just children playing", and did nothing more. Luckily for him, the bullying stopped when the two boys joined the same rugby team and they actually became good friends. But if this hadn't happened I dread to think what could have become of my smart, outgoing happy little brother, who is now growing into a lovely young man.
Today schools policy on Bullying is prevention...putting teachers out in the playground, assemblies on why bullying is bad, and in some ways I suppose it does work, but it comes to when one slips through the net, and one child is been bullied...what do they do then??
The only thing a shcool can do, is tell the parents, now this may work if you have nice caring parents who will stop the bullying and dicipline their children correctly when this happens, but as we all know there are some families out there who won't do that, and either won't know how to stop their child bullying another, or won't want to. Then what?
Schools tell children that if they are getting bullied then they should go and tell a teacher, BUT, in many cases this just makes it worse, especially as you get older, in Primary School bullying is quite easy to stop in many cases (yes there will be some that are much harder), but younger children are alot easier to stop, discipline and make sure it doesn't happen again, its when we get to high school level that Bullying can get completely out of hand.
If a 14 year old girl for example is getting bullied by another group of girls (it happens a hell of a lot, and there was a story a few years ago of a young girl been beaten to death by a gang of bullies in the school toilets), if that girl goes to her teacher and tells them whats happening...what is going to happen to the girls? They get suspended...their parents can't keep them in the house, 14-15 year old girls will get out if they want to whether their parents know abotu it or not. And then what...they can wait outside school for the girl in question they can do worse...then what?!? They get expelled...same again...! The police may even get involved, but there isn't really much they can do apart from go to the offending girls houses and give them a good telling off but THAT is just going to make their ammunition even stronger.
My best friend got into some trouble with a bully from a neighbouring school- this girls boyfriend had a lazy eye, and for some unknown reason his girlfriend thought that my friend had been shouting things to him about it (my friend would never ever ever do this..and in fact she had a huge crush on the boy!), and for months and months this girl would wait outside of school for my friend, it wasn't physical (until one occasion) but she wore my friend down so much she didn't want to go to school, and she stayed home truent or "sick" for over a week until her mum forced her back.
We went to a teacher and told them that there was a group of girls waiting outside the school gates to abuse either physically or mentally my friend, and all they did was send a teacher outside the gates. But the girls caught up with us along the way home. My friend was terrified of what might happen, the girl in question had a lot of very hard looking friends, and had some very scary contacts.
One night my friend and I were sitting at the bus stop (it was somewhere we'd sit when we wanted to talk and be away from the parents!!!) and up this girl came, completely unprovoked she attacked my friend, punching her numerous times in the face and busting her nose. Off she ran, and me and my friend ran back to her house to get her cleaned up. We called the police and they came round, and went to the other girls house. We were told she had been told to keep well away as the next time there was a complaint there would be a restraining order put on her.
Even though there was no actual trouble from her again, there was a lot of backlash from it, and people from the offending girls school would have rants at my friend on MSN and would call her all sorts. The whole thing died down eventually, but my friend had been put through around 18 months of hell. She wouldn't leave the house for fear of getting beat up, or hounded.
But there was nothing we could do about it, she'd told her parents, she'd told the school and she'd even told the police. And in the end the only thing which really stopped it all was leaving school and everyone growing up a bit.
I honestly do not know what I would do if my child came to me and said he or she was been bullied as I don't ahve faith in the school to deal with it without making the matter worse. You can always move the child from one class to another, or kick the other child out of the school- but thats never going to fix the issue, especially not in high school situations.
I quite honestly do not know a way to stop bullying, only to keep on with the no bullying campains. If you are going through bullying, the only thing I can say is don't let it bother you.
I am a prime target for bullies; I've always been bigger than my friends, always had massive boobs. And trust me people tried to ware me down; in high school my first few weeks I had a boy who thought he was everything, he'd walk past me "fatty", but it didn't honestly bother me, I just looked him in the eye, laughed and said "God I know, this uniform does nothing for my figure does it", gave him a cheesy grin and off I walked, and that was it. He became someone I would sit and chat to in class, we'd have a giggle and get in trouble for talking during science. By my final year in school everyone knew me, and I had a huge circle of friends...I was a lucky one...If on that first day I'd let that one little word get to me, who knows my life in high school could have been completely different.
Luckily I have one hell of a confidence, and couldn't care less what people thought of me. So I really do stress to anyone who is getting bullied, don't get smart with them, don't stoop to their level, but don't let it get to you, don't let them see it hurts even if it kills you inside what they have said. As soon as you show a sign of weakness they'll attach onto that.
Bullying is a horrible thing, and happens in all ages, in all social situations, in work and school and even in the home. There will always be bullies; we just have to learn how to not let it get to us, and maybe schools need to try and do more.
Why is it still happening?
Bullying is something that people can be a victim to, no matter of their age it happens in schools and in adult life too. Why do people feel they have the right to make you feel bad/unhappy, does this make them feel good?
I was bullied in secondary school, by my supposedly friend who thought she was being funny and craved attention from others by making me look stupid! She was nice to me at times and I used to spend a lot of time at her house and even sleep over! You must think I'm mad - well I probably was. She was quite cruel and manipulating which is probably the reason why I stayed at her house quite often. Although when I was at her house she was fairly nice to me, it was only at school in front of other people where she liked to be cruel and would get our friends to join in with her nasty games. I have always been a happy person and an outgoing person; I was a little shy in secondary school because there were lots of other lively characters so I never got to be myself. My 'friend' made me feel upset and embarrassed at times. She would just laugh and think she was being funny, I think she liked to get attention and she got a buzz out of it - nice!
Since leaving secondary school, I somehow became a nanny to her son, I never had the strength to stand up to her, she would drop her son off to me in the morning and not provide him with the daily essentials that a little one needs. I felt sorry for her children as she was not a good mother either. She would also make rude comments to my friends because we liked to dress differently; I was quite embarrassed and apologised to my friend for her rude insulting comments. If ever there was a person that I dislike it is her. I always see the best in people but I really don't see any good in her at all.
One morning when she dropped her son off she came in and started her usual behaviour and by this point I had just had enough of her ways, she was not aware that she was making me upset, this was quite a few years back now so I don't remember exactly what she did on this particular morning but she left and I just broke down in tears which is very unlike me. She peered around the window and knocked on the window looking confused, I then explained how I didn't like the things she had been doing and the way she was towards me, I'm not sure if she was aware of just how evil she was or what affect it had on me, she was oblivious to it as she was getting her 'kick' out of making me feel bad.
Some time after this my parents got divorced and my dad took this out on me being the eldest. He then started seeing my 'friends' mother and they got together so I was seeing her again, other things have happened since then so I don't see this girl anymore. So I am finally free of her bullying ways.
Will she ever know how much she upset me? Will she ever care, I don't think she would even think back to all the horrid stuff she had done. However I don't think about that part of my life now.
In brief: I was living with my dad I got pregnant with my daughter and decided to go live with my mum. I have since moved out and no longer see any of my family - which is another story.
I put all of this behind me (well to the back of my mind)
My daughter started primary school she was a lovely lively bubbly character who became popular with the children and teachers and people would always have good things to say about her. Unfortunately we had to move house and she had to move school, I was told that she would 'go back' with her work if she changed school, I thought no she will be fine she was advanced in school as she loved going to school so she put a lot of effort into her work and she was very confident. So I thought she wouldn't have a problem settling into a new school.
How wrong was I!
She had moved from a catholic school into a mainstream school. I started working there as a classroom assistant and lunchtime supervisor, as the head teacher knew my mum, I didn't get interviewed I just started soon after my daughter started attending the school. She was excited about this and was happy to see me about the school, this meant that I could keep a close eye on her and would speak to her teachers whenever I saw them around the school. It took her a while to settle in, as she got to her final 2 years in this school she became unhappy, the other children were quite cruel to her and they were always giving her a hard time, there was a bunch of girls that were picking on her on a daily basis, this had a huge effect on her work and her attitude towards school, she never missed school and never made a big deal of it. I didn't think it was that bad and just thought it was 'normal' that children fall out but then soon realised that they were making her very unhappy she only; had one friend and she would sit and cry through lunchtime and the staff did very little about this! The final year of school came and she really didn't enjoy going to school as she said "all of the children all horrible and no one likes me" I always found this hard to understand because she had always been a popular child and people would always sing her praises and tell me that she was a credit to me. I spent a lot of time at the school and volunteered to help out with anything that needed doing, when I became pregnant with my son I was spending more time at school to pass the time to keep myself busy and would even help out in the office. I knew the staff and I was not overly impressed with the way that the school was run and how slack they were in certain areas. It wasn't worth moving my daughter we was just anxiously waiting for the final day to come!
I sat in the playground and watched through the gates during lunchtimes to make sure my daughter was okay and to see what the problem was. I soon realised it was because she was 'different' to the other children in her year group. The boys would be playing football and the girls would be sitting on the steps or standing in the corner in little groups chatting. My daughter thought this was boring! She wanted to play! That's what children should be doing. My daughter and her friend would play games and run around on the playground and she was easily excited. The other children would pick on her for this and tell her to 'grow up' and 'shut up'
I spoke to her teachers on numerous occasions about this, and they said they would keep an eye on her. The teachers did very little to help or change the situation, and said it was normal and that children are always falling out and that it had stopped, but it hadn't. There was nothing more that I could do. My daughter was brave and didn't make a big deal out of it, or maybe she didn't like to cause trouble. She would never go to the teachers about it as she thought they would make it worse.
The final day! Hurray!
We were so pleased when the final day was here, and unlike others that were sad to leave my daughter was relieved!
We had chosen a secondary school, there were not many to choose from that were within a distance that she could travel by bus. The best out of the three was an all girl's school. I wasn't sure about this, but I had heard good things about the school and others that had sent their girls their highly recommended it. The stats were better than other leading schools, so we decided on this school.
My daughter was the only girl to be attending this school from her primary school and she was pleased about this. She was able to leave behind the people that made her time in primary school miserable.
Secondary school is quite daunting for most, it is a big change. The first year is always the hardest as the other year groups usually give the newcomers a hard time. So when my daughter came home and started saying that the older children were not nice I told her to ignore them. I thought this was going to happen for the first few weeks. She then started coming home saying she didn't like her bag and making excuse that she needed a new bag, and then she wanted trousers and not a skirt. After talking to her and explaining that she couldn't have new things just yet as she had only just had these things and she chose them, she then told me that the other children were picking on her because she was the only one to wear a skirt. The other girls would laugh and make fun of her and give her a hard time for anything they could pick on just to feel good about themselves.
She is now in her second year, and the bullying continues! She was picked on and was made to feel uncomfortable and upset by a lot of children - bullies never work alone. Then this girl who was friends with the nasty girls decided to make friends with my daughter, they have become best friends and spend a lot of time together in and out of school, but now the bullies are giving them both a hard time.
I have gotten to know my daughters friends mum rather well, as we speak on the phone a lot. My daughter stays over a lot as she lives nearer the school and has no one to get the bus home with. So I agree to letting her stay over if they have been doing homework and it has got dark instead of letting her travel back on the bus alone. This has become another thing that some of the other children have been nasty about because they are jealous, my daughters friend lives in a pub so there is always things going on and they invite my daughter to different events. Now the teachers are causing a problem because they both came down with the same illness and had time off together, the teachers have been very unprofessional and 2 members of staff grilled my daughter about her having time off at the same time as her friend. I have spoken to the head teacher and I hope that the problems will be resolved as I am ready to make a formal complaint. I also made the head teacher fully aware of the fact that my daughter was already very unhappy in school, and she said she would look into the problem - only time will tell.
Why does my daughter get bullied?
Because she is different, she likes to have fun and she is a child! She is 12 years old however she appears to be a lot younger than her peers. I have noticed that a lot of the children that are the same age as her are a lot more grown up, they like to be sensible, I am shocked when I am out I see girls in town that are the same age as my daughter with more make up on than what I would wear on a night out and barely enough clothes to cover them up! I think this is disgusting! My daughter dresses appropriately and like me she doesn't follow fashion or trends. She also likes to have fun as do I; she is a child after all. I wouldn't like her to be like her peers, she is a child and an individual, but she is being destroyed by cruel children.
The bullying has had a physical effect on my daughter, as when she was in primary school her eyes had become red and puffy and she was rubbing them saying they felt irritated, I took her to the doctors and to the opticians to find out that this was caused by stress. She is now having the same symptoms and has a rash on her chest and back which is also caused through the stress she is under right now. It has also had a huge effect on her work as she has now fallen drastically behind and struggles because she has no interest and is distracted at school.
I decided to write this review as last night, my neighbour had knocked on my door and pushed a rude note through my post box to complain about the amount of noise that my son and I make when we are PLAYING! Yes that's right playing! We like to play during the day and our TV is hardly ever on, we like to make our own fun and play games. I can hear them but I don't complain! This made me think that my son is probably going to have the same problems when he goes to school as he is very playful and easily excitable much like my daughter, we are different to other people and 'different' never fits in.
This has made me think - should I change the way that I am? Should I raise my children differently and make them 'hard' because we are sensitive individuals that are soft and caring.
I am lucky that I have a close relationship with my children and my daughter can talk to me openly about anything. Some children are bullied and suffer in silence, it is always good to build a good relationship with your children so they can come to you when they need to, always look out for signs of bullying, don't just think your child is being difficult or grumpy, children act out for a reason, and their behaviour and mood can change also.
I teach my children how to be kind and caring and at a young age when my daughter didn't know better if she hurt me or said something that was hurtful I would make her understand that it hurt my feelings I would say to her "that makes me feel sad" and if she was to hurt me physically I would say "ouch that really hurts" and exaggerate it, so she would know not to do it again. When she was with other children playing I would teach her to share and be kind to others and if she hurt them even by accident she must apologise because it hurt. What must the parents of the bullies teach their children?
I think it is important as a parent to instil good habits and behaviour and respect from a young age. You should be a role model to your children, and how you act and react in situations teaches them what is acceptable. If you show anger and other negative behaviour then they will think that this is acceptable.
How to cope - what to do.
All schools have an anti bullying policy find out what it is.
Talk to your child and make them understand, also make them feel loved and boost their self esteem and LISTEN to them, take them seriously. Then speak to your child's teacher if nothing is done from this then go to the head teacher. If your child is still being bullied then go to the governors
I have taken this action so far and if the problem is not resolved then I will be going to the school governors. As a last resort I will change my daughter to a different school, although this won't stop the bullies as they will find another child to pick on. It is not the best way of going about solving the problem, but in my case I'm not happy with my daughters form teacher or the year manager who has been very unprofessional in regards to the problems we have been having.
Stay in contact with the teacher and keep them updated on anything that is happening.
Are you a bully or a victim of bullying? Do something about it.
If you are being bullied, then stand up to the person that is bullying you tell them how they make you feel. A bully is a coward who hurts other people to make themselves feel better. Never hit back as this will not help or solve the problem it will only make it worse.
If you think your child is being bullied then talk to them.
Always listen to your child, and pay attention to what is being said. Some children find it hard to talk about their problems and may feel embarrassed.
If you think your child is a victim to bullying then try to talk to them, without grilling them on the subject.
Ask them how their day was, and what they did - if they are abrasive and don't have much to say and don't seem to want to tell you about their day it is most likely because they have nothing positive to say. Ask them who they have made friends with, and what they did at lunchtime. Who did they play with?
If they can't talk to you, find someone they trust that they can talk to. There are also help lines and organisations available.
We have now decided to keep a diary and record all of the things that are upsetting my daughter.
What is bullying?
Bullying can emotional or physical, deliberate hurtful behaviour that continues.
* Name calling
* Abusive comments
* Damaging or taking the property of another.
* Rumour Spreading.
* Being hit or physically hurt.
How to spot the signs:
* Lack of interest in school.
* Not wanting to talk about school.
* Self esteem lowers.
* School equipment or dinner money has been 'lost'
* Change in behaviour.
* Diet may change your child may eat less.
Bullying is bullying no matter how big or small.
People need to learn how to have fun - and be nice!
Organisations that can help: