My first memory of bullying was my first day of kindergarten. I remember the moment all so vividly, almost at the top of the stairs to my classroom I accidentally trod on the little girls foot beside me and she turned on me saying…Watch out fatso you could break my foot. That was the beginning of the tormenting from everyone who heard, fatso became the name and the taunting about not going near my big feet lasted years.
I was already the kid with the uniform not like everyone else’s, I was a larger girl, I had the bad haircut and the block fringe and I was the perfect target for bullies because all I wanted to do was fit in, I would do or say anything for attention and I didn’t learn that my behaviour made me a bigger target until Year 6 when I really wanted boys attention and the girls were mercilous at making sure I never got it.
Another local Public School had small numbers but we were far from the landowners children, I was still the large girl and still bullied by the other girls.
Then changing schools briefly to Forbes In NSW was another battle to survive amongst a set of children that were close knit and didn’t want a new girl in their midst, my brother and I were both taunted and we actually both found solace in the library at lunch times.
I feel like I have spent a lifetime walking a tightrope, watching from afar to learn the language of my peer group. learn what the right thing to say might be, copy and mimic to fit in, make up stories to sound better then I was. I got in trouble for my antics, I made up outrageous stories of wealth and privilege because I thought that was what was expected to fit in…I even did a period of time saying I was older then I infact was.
Finally I ended up in Moree at the high school and the true bullies came out, I had my hair pulled, my bag filled with trash and rotten food, I had people sneer and talk about me as I walked past, the library was my safe place at different periods and I continued to try and simulate into the group so that I felt like I fit in. This took a long time’ years to find myself, to realize I didn’t have to impress anyone, I didn’t have to be anyone but me, from there however it is a lot harder to come back from all the lies and attempts to fit in. Girls are so cruel they will like you one day and hate you the next. The competition for boys is great and the need to brag about exploits is greater. All our different upbringings and the different roles our parents played in our lives and the community all affect how we conducted ourselves.
I did nearly 6 months traveling an hour long into and out of town on a bus where everyone barked when I got on and when I got off. I wasn’t perhaps likeable, I must have been obnoxious and needy and that created the hatred. I could be a bully to others as well, if I saw an opening to feel important and better I took it and I’m ashamed to say it. With my own children I have told them these stories and I have explained that people that bully are struggling in some way and those that get bullied are fighting a huge battle as well.
Take your shoes off, what if…they have a hard time at home, bad family circumstances, a disability, an impederment. Just try and remember that people who bully are usually that way because the only time their strong and tough is when they treat others badly, because they perhaps are treated badly at home. They weren’t bought up with the same moral compass we are. Just try and remember we all have a battle we are fighting that no one else can see.
We try and tell our children to stand up against bullies, stop them If we see them. For me I had a guardian angel, her name is Rebecca and forever I will remember her telling the girls to stop pulling my hair and wake up to themselves. She told them that if they touched me again they would deal with her. She was in Year 11 I think at the time and me in Year 8 and forever I am grateful, still today we are friends and I speak of her to my kids at every opportunity. You see the power we have individually. We have the power to change the life of someone being bullied, we can be the reason someone has a lasting beautiful strong memory of goodnesss amongst the darkness and cruelty of taunting children.
All of my experience though is pre-social media. It stopped once I was home. It was always the foreboding in the morning, but my nights were mine.
Now our children are navigating 24 hours a day through the bully minefield.
They are accessible targets always and we are allowing this to happen, we are giving them phones, we are accepting the social norms and expecting our uneducated children to be strong enough to ignore the comments, taunts and threats.
Should we be making a curfew for devices, should we be taking back control of their access because to my thinking it would then stop the consistency of the downward spiral.
Are we to blame for being blasé about their use of these devices. Are we checking what they are doing and saying ? We need to police the behaviour and guide our children until they are able to do it on their own.
So many laws and rules and yet children are dying because we aren’t protecting them from this epidemic.
Live your Truth
Protect your children x