…came flooding back this morning as I read about a 13 year old child who had committed suicide because of bullying at School.
The report states that he reported the incidents on many occasions to his teachers but no action was taken. One of the first thoughts that ran through my mind was, “What about his parents and family. Did they not know what he was going through?” Obviously not , and I can understand that, because I hid what was going on from my parents and even other friends.
Being bullied at that age puts you in a very lonely place. For an immature brain , its a hard thing to handle, that people dislike you so much. And because you are disliked and humiliated by the group of Bullies, you feel embarrassed and inadequate in front of others in your peer group, and wonder just what they think of you. I did have a few genuine friends but at the time I couldn’t accept their friendship fully because I thought they only befriended me out of sympathy. In reality, they knew nothing of the other side.
I was lucky in a way that because of my location, I was able to effect an escape of sorts, into the countryside where I had friends amongst the farming community. The town, however, became a jungle. I found out quickly which streets to avoid and had it all worked out where the bullies would be on a particular night and what time on which days they were likely to make an appearance at a certain place. Sometimes it worked and sometimes it didn’t and I ended up being physically assaulted on a few occasion by the “wannabe” bullies. Those who didn’t fit in with the main gang, but saw that there was an opportunity to exert some superiority over a younger, less able victim.
Home life was far from perfect and I was between the devil and the deep blue sea. I didn’t want to be indoors all the time and and I was fearful of venturing out. At this time, growing up was massively different from what it is today. We were encouraged to look after ourselves and stand up to anyone who might not have your best interests at heart. If the teachers knew, they turned a blind eye. Teachers in those days did what they were paid to do which was teach. It wouldn’t have crossed anyone’s mind to go to them for pastoral care, and expose the weaknesses which, through a child’s experience, might lead to further humiliation and exploitation. So, my days became a continual game of cat and mouse combined with intense stress. Being ultra careful which corridors and stairways I used in school. Sneaking to the shops at night. Walking in shadows and peering round corners to ensure there was no danger. Always watching my back.
At 14 years old I found alcohol and it changed the course of my life forever. Any fears I had were removed and if I was bullied I would fight back and most times take a beating. I didn’t feel a thing . So anaesthetised was I, that nothing mattered any more. At 16 I found marijuana, and the mixture of the two made me invincible. All I wanted to do was to fit in. To find a niche in the community where I was liked and appreciated, but if people didn’t understand me before, they were mystified by antics now. At 17 , I attempted suicide, unable to cope any longer with the isolation I felt, not realising at the time that that was how I felt, and not another living soul realised either.
My heart goes out to the family of this child. Perhaps their profound loss will serve to raise awareness once more of these daily acts of oppression in our schools and help to ensure that measures can be introduced to prevent the loss of valuable young lives in this manner.
more to come…
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