After years of being the victim of bullying, this mum has come up with a ‘bully proof’ plan to protect her kids.
As a child, I was bullied almost every day of sixth grade. Mostly because I looked like a boy after a haircut went very, very wrong. But later on, it was because I was poor. It was discovered by one of the boys at school that I lived in Housing Commission, something I had not realised I was meant to either hide or be ashamed of. This however, was wonderful fodder for the school bully. Being poor was apparently something they could all agree, was both funny and worthy of their ridicule.
Back then of course there was no Internet. There was no keyboard to hide behind and nor did they seem to require one. They were quite happy to publicly ridicule, harass and torment me in person.
Looking back I can see how terrible and out of line this was. I was a KID and I was also, an easy target. I was weak and I lacked confidence. There were so many days I was actually frightened to get to school before the bell rang. If I did, that would mean I would be alone in that schoolyard, practically begging for their unwanted attention. My lunch hours were spent hiding in the school library, nose in a book, desperately wishing for the school holidays to begin.
It all came to a head one day when a boy, surrounded by his posse, found me. The library was shut that day for whatever reason so I’d found a rock in the corner of the playground to sit upon to eat my lunch. That’s when he started calling me a ‘Shag on a rock’. Honestly, I didn’t even know what the hell that meant, but I knew it wasn’t complimentary. I was by this stage, so sad, so lost that I simply burst into tears. And I sobbed. Loudly. This attracted the teacher on duty who asked me what had happened and I told her, I couldn’t help it, it all came out. Subsequently, these boys were disciplined by the Principal. My mother was called to the office and the boys were made to apologise to me in person. We were only 12 years old but they were suddenly very aware and very ashamed of their actions.
By its definition, to bully means to use superior strength or influence to intimidate (someone), typically to force them to do something.
The thing is though, these boys (and the girls who were also along side of them and thought that they were hilarious) didn’t force me to do anything. Their end goal was simply to further their own feelings of superiority. They were essentially calling out a poor girl for being poor.
From that day onwards, my life got better. I wouldn’t say I was the popular girl, but they left me alone and I was left to forge my own way and make friends that understood and “got” me.
But how though, can we “bullyproof” our own children?
I have publicly written about my son who is Aspergers and the physical and verbal bullying he has been subjected to due to his obvious physical appearance and weakness. On the flipside, I also have another son who I fear will be a part of the problem if he’s not educated. So I’ve researched on both sides of the fence. And come up with the following 5 tips: