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'Needs to mix more with others.'
Bullying in Schools
Member Name: Mad_Wicca
Bullying in Schools
Date: 30/08/01, updated on 30/08/01 (74 review reads)
Advantages: None at all
Disadvantages: Can ruin your life
I'd just like to start this op by saying that it is quite long! However, if you take the time to read to the end, I hope that it can either help you in some way, or just let you know that if you are being bullied you're not alone and you can get through it, however long it takes.
When I was eight years old my family moved from the North East of England to Essex. My father had worked on oil tankers all of his life but, due to ill health, he was given an office position in London. My parents decided to move to a largish village that was being expanded rather rapidly into a town. So off we headed, leaving behind friends and family.
At the time I was sad to go, but not worried about it. I had always been quite popular at school, hundreds of kids had gathered around me to say goodbye on my last day, so I didn't feel too worried about making new friends. On reaching our new home we unpacked and tried to sort ourselves out amongst the chaos of boxes, furniture and a heavy snowfall. My grandparents had travelled down with us, to help out in the first few weeks, and to get myself and my two sisters out from under my parents feet they took us to a local shop to buy something for tea.
At a bakery my grandmother had to ask four or five times for a dozen bread buns, each time the puzzled frown on the shop assistants brow becoming deeper. I couldn't work out why this woman didn't understand my grandma, was she hard of hearing? Eventually grandma had to point to what she wanted and suddenly the woman cried, 'oh you mean rooooooooooooooowlls!'
I had always been aware that my family spoke with different accents to those in Essex, as we had relatives in Southend, but I also knew that our Geordie accents weren't that strong compared to some. Over the years to come I was astounded about how ignorant the people in my town were as to where we were from. I have been asked if I was Irish, Dutch, Scottish, Japanese (!), Sw
edish, Welsh, Australian; these people seemed to know everywhere else in the world but the North East of England!
Still, I was blissfully unaware of all this on my first day of school. Like any child that starts mid-way through a term I felt a little daunted, but knew I would probably soon get into the swing of things. I was allocated a 'friend' to show me around and I couldn't work out why she was so hostile towards me, snarling at me to hang my coat up and scowling across the table at me when we sat down. I have still never worked out why she was like this with me!
At breaktime this 'friend' abandoned me, but I didn't mind too much as a bunch of other kids had gathered around, curiosity piqued at the 'new girl'. They asked me questions about myself and there were a few sniggers and nudges when I answered. I didn't think I had said anything funny, so couldn't understand what they were laughing at. Then one of the boys asked me which team I supported. I had been told in the headmasters office that I was on the red team for sports, so I naturally assumed this was what the boy meant.
'Red team,' I answered. The crowd broke into fits of laughter and the boy ran off to tell everyone around, whilst pointing at me, what I had said. It wasn't until all this had died down that he came back and told me he had meant which football team did I support. I didn't answer, in fact I didn't say much for the rest of the day. A funny feeling had started in my stomach and all I could think of was going home, back to my mam, dad, grandparents and sisters.
This was how it all began, from an innocent answer to a misunderstood question. The next day at school no one wanted to know me, or the next, or the next. If I did speak to anyone I was derided for my accent, told that I didn't talk properly or asked to repeat one word over and over again for them to laugh at (which I always refused to d
o). I was told that it was 'barth' not 'bath', 'buttu' not 'butta', 'swimming pool' not 'swimming baths'. Eventually I decided not to talk at school unless it was absolutely necessary.
It was only because of a new girl starting about eight months after me that their attention went elsewhere for a while. This new girl was also from Essex, but for some reason she too was given the same treatment as myself. I was given the job of being her 'friend' and together we managed to get each other through the educational system. We remain best friends to this day.
My verbal bullying by everyone around me followed me to secondary school, where children from other schools were made aware that I was not to be made friends with. Sometimes there was physical bullying, hair pulling, kicking, being spat on, but mainly it was their words that stung me. I spoke to only my one friend and to the teachers if asked a question, but never opened my mouth at any other times. I had learned that if I was being bullied and I answered back this goaded them on even more, it was my 'funny voice' they wanted to hear, and I wasn't going to let them have what they wanted.
They called me fatty, because one year I put a lot of weight on. The doctor thought it may be a sign that I had diabetes, which runs in my family, and so I was put on a strict diet. The weight gradually came off but 'fatty' stuck with me. I wasn't fat, but they made me feel it, and so every time I looked at myself in the mirror I saw a fat person. Now don't get me wrong, I didn't develop an eating disorder through this, just a low sense of self-esteem.
I was constantly told I smelled, so every morning before school I would have a shower. Then when I went home for my dinner I would have another shower before heading back. Before bed it was a bath, where I would scrub myself raw. I was also 'greaseball'
due to my apparently greasy hair, which was washed three times a day!
Soon my mam realised something was wrong and asked me why I took so many showers and baths. After some cajoling I told her what was happening. She went to the school, names were named and those people had a talking to from the headmaster. But this just made it worse. I had 'grassed them up' and they weren't about to let me forget it. After that I never told my parents or a teacher what was going on. I sat at the back of the class, kept my mouth shut, tried to be first out and last in with everything.
When I look back on my report cards from those years every subject is littered with statements such as; '...needs to mix more with others,' '...should join class activities more often,' '...is a very quiet girl who needs to come out of her shell,' '...reluctant to join in,' '...could do with widening her circle of friends.' Once again I felt it all pointed to me, was my fault that no one wanted to mix with me, and here were the comments from the 'adults' to back it up.
For one year at my secondary school my best friend had to go to another school, due to family circumstances; the next year she returned. However, try as I might I have no memory of that year without her. I have thought long and hard about this and I can only remember one incident, a teacher asking me in the playground how I was managing now my friend was gone. I just said fine and then reeled of a list of made-up names of other people I was friends with. Apart from this everything else is a blank, I'm starting to think that that year was so bad for me that I have erased it from my mind.
Eventually I made it through school and it was the happiest day of my life when I walked out of those gates for the last time. My family were moving back up north, to Yorkshire where my dad was from. I felt as if I had a chance to start again. In a way I d
id. I made friends, wasn't judged for the way I talked and looked, and began to realise that I might just be an ok person. I went out to clubs and pubs, had boyfriends, went to college, tried university, got my first flat, got a job, married and bought a house.
But even through all this things were wrong. I didn't know this at the time, it wasn't until quite recently I realised how all this bullying had affected me. Even though I made friends and had a social life I still found it very hard to talk to people. I just didn't know how to be with people, keep conversations going, let people see the real me. I had no self-worth or esteem, felt that people disliked me as soon as they saw me, even if they didn't say anything to my face. I didn't feel worthy of anything, why would they want to give *me* the job, why does he want to go out with *me*, what are they being *my* friend for?
I felt as though I was the girl you were supposed to hate, the one not meant to have friends, boyfriends, a good life; anything. I messed up college because I couldn't stand to talk to people, gave up uni after a year, not because of the work, but because I couldn't handle mixing with so many people, it was so stressful.
I hated (and still do to some extent) meeting new people, my heart would race, palms sweat and I'd feel sick. I'd try anything to get out of meeting someone or having to go out with new people. I couldn't confront people about anything, from returning a product to a shop to giving an order to a waiter! Over time it got worse and worse, all I wanted to do was go out, get what I had to done as quickly as possible without having too much contact with any one and then get back to the safety of home.
When I did start work it took me about three years to come out of myself and actually feel as though my work colleagues liked me for me and that I could talk to them. I had left the bullies behind on tha
t last day of school, but I had carried the effects of their bullying with me. It was whilst at work that it all came back to haunt me. I worked for a company that put together the TV pages for newspapers, my job was to put the page together, making sure all the text fitted and everything looked right. It was whilst doing this that a very familiar name jumped out at me from my computer screen.
The boy who had asked me the question about which team I had supported on that first awful day at my new school had been making his way in the world as a comedian, of all things. Now he had landed himself a job presenting the lottery numbers with a well known 60's singer on TV. He had been one of the worst of my bullies and to suddenly see his name again, without any warning, made my stomach lurch. I found myself shaking quite badly, remembering all the things he had done and said to me over the years.
I took my mouse in my shaking hand and highlighted his name. Then I deleted it. For some strange reason I felt better. From then on I cut out any reference to him being in the programme in every paper I did. I felt some satisfaction in that, but knowing he was on people's TV's every week, that I could switch my TV on and have his face grinning all over it at me after everything he had done, made me feel so angry.
I couldn't sop thinking about him, about the fact that he just wasn't aware of how badly he had effected my life. He was only one of many but, over time, the others faces and names had faded, having to see his name and face every week meant that he never would; that I would never get over it, he would always be there as a reminder.
Then one day, whilst watching TV, I happened to flick onto the programme Kilroy. I never normally watched daytime TV but I was feeling a bit down that day and so had decided to wrap myself up in my housecoat and act the couch potato. That day Kilroy's subject was about bullying and
how it had affected people in their adult lives. As I listened to the victims talk about their lives I was stunned at how like mine they were; lack of self-worth and self-esteem, not wanting to confront people or situations, letting things get out of control until they were so much of a mess they couldn't be retrieved, not wanting to meet new people, or go to new places, not wanting to have children because they might go through the same thing, not feeling worthy of anything, that I was a loser in life.
I felt myself going from one emotion to the next, crying, laughing, shaking, feeling sick. Until that point in my life I had never put together all the things that had happened to me, the way my personality was, with the fact that it was because I was bullied as a child. I decided after watching the show that I wasn't going to put up with this anymore, I wasn't going to let them keep bullying me at the age of 30.
That's right, it's taken me 14 years to get to this point, 14 years to realise that I didn't leave the effects of my bullying at the school gates. Since watching the programme, and realising what some of my social and personal problems were caused by, I have tried very hard to reverse them. I do pluck up my courage and talk to people, looking them in the eye, I will have a go at new things and situations. Deciding to write for dooyoo was a big step for me, fearing that I would be derided for my ops, but the feedback I have received has been fantastic and has really given my confidence a big boost.
I still can't watch my 'semi-famous' bully on the TV, and I doubt I will ever really forgive those who bullied me. But I am learning to let it go and get on with my life in a more positive way. I don't want to be bitter, I don't want to get even, I want to understand why they did it, but unless I talk to them again (which I doubt), I don't suppose I ever will.
From reading the ops
here, and reports in the news, bullying seems to have become so devastatingly violent in recent years. It breaks my heart every time I hear about a child who has killed themselves because of bullying. Please, if you are being bullied don't do what I did and keep your mouth shut. I only did that because my accent was the main source of their attacks. You have to speak to someone about it, a parent, grandparent, teacher, friend, Childline, counsellor. Don't bottle it up, because it could ruin not only your school years but the rest of your life.
My elder sister went to a different secondary school to me and she too was bullied because of her accent. But she stood up for herself, she answered back, she fought them off verbally (see Empowering victims of verbal bullies by ks.h in this section for some good advice about this). Today she is a feisty young woman who isn't afraid to stand up for herself and go for what she wants and now works in helping victims of domestic violence.
If you met me today you'd say I was shy, most people do. But I think I learnt to be shy, I learnt to protect myself from the world by trying to become as small and quiet as possible. I sometimes think about the person I could have been if I hadn't been bullied. I would have liked her I'm sure; a loud, happy, confident character, full of life and adventure. I do intend to meet her one day, I'm working towards it slowly, one day at a time. I am going to get there, the gap between me and her is getting smaller.
I do hope my own experience can help you get through yours, however old you may be. If you think you have no one to talk to then please feel free to leave me an email address (I'll try to get my own set up soon!), because day or night I'll always be there for anyone suffering the effects of bullying.