Friday, 19 October 2012

Let's Talk About Bullying

Bullying is never acceptable, ever, and yet it goes on everywhere.  And I don't just mean school, but throughout life.  Why it happens isn't really important, mostly because there are so many reasons and so many people have their own theories about that listing them all would be mostly guess work and speculation.  Only the bullies know why they do it, and sometimes even then I wonder if they do.  All that really matters is that we do something about it.

For me it started when I was at Primary School (ages 5-11), it continued when I went to Secondary School (normally 11-16), and then at Sixth Form College (16-18).  It stopped when I went to Uni for two years but I dropped out due to ill health and it continued at the college I went to (20-22).  It wasn't always the same thing, but it always had the same effect.  It made me feel like crap every time.

To make things worse, I was the only one who'd get into trouble.  One time at Secondary School I was sitting down to lunch.  I was just sitting there, probably eating sandwiches or something similar, just minding my own business.  I don't remember how it started but this other kid in my class was on me, so I threw him off as I was trying to eat.  He then yelled out that I was going psycho and that everyone should grab me.  All I wanted to do was eat, so I shook them off as best I could, but that wasn't the end of it.  This kid yelled out the same sorts of things about me being psycho, and I was jumped on, again.  It went on a few more times before I just gave up and walked out, slamming the door behind me.  It was a reinforced glass door and I broke it, the glass actually coming out the frame.  Like I said, I was the only one who ever got in trouble.  Despite not being the one who started it, despite being the victim, despite everything that lead up to that, it was only me who got in trouble.  I refused to pay for the door but it turned out later that my parents had.

When I was at college, there was another kid who found out something I wanted kept secret and he promptly shared it with his friends.  They made my remaining time there a living hell.  I wanted to get on with my work, but they would constantly berate me during class, yelling out how I was a freak and that I should be allowed at the college.  The worst thing is that they would do this with teachers present and the teachers would know it was going on and just ask them to be quiet if the teacher was speaking.
And talking of teachers, what the hell do you do if the teacher is the bully?  There is nothing you can do about it then.  They'll just persuade the other teachers that you're at fault, that you're a problem child, that you're just being difficult.  One teacher would send me home every time I forgot something, no matter how insignificant, which meant I never got the homework, so I was sent home again the next week, and so one, ad nauseum.  Another teacher straight up told me I didn't have asthma and that I was putting on an asthma attack.  Really?  After all the doctor's notes?  After all the times it had kept me home?  You really want to tell an asthmatic they don't have asthma while they're having an attack?  I could go on and on about how my Asperger's Syndrome caused problems, but I'll just say that the Secondary School spent their Special Needs budget on building repair and leave it at that.

Those are just a few incident of many.  At Primary School there was a kid picking on me.  The only friend I had was with me at the time and he stood up for me.  He stamped on the other kid's foot.  You'd think that the bully there would've been punished, but he wasn't.  It was my friend who was.  The other kid had an ingrown toenail or something and my friend was suspended.  Nothing happened to the bully, even though he was at fault and my friend was just standing up for me.

And that's the biggest problem with bullying.  Nothing ever happens to the bully.  It's always the victim who gets blamed.  It's always the victim who's punished.  It's always the victim that anything negative happens to.  What can you do when you can't trust the teachers to punish the bullies and not you?  What do you do if the teachers are the bullies?  What do you do when you're an adult and shamed into silence because 'it only happens to kids'?

I wish I knew what the answers are, but I know it's not suicide.  No matter how close I've come before, I've somehow not gone ahead with it.  I'm still here, able to play games with some good friends and write books and enjoy the bits of life that are fun.  It has gotten better for me, and if it can get better for me then it can get better for you too.

There are lots of anti-bullying songs out there.  Some deal with homophobia, some are just general.  Have a google, you'll find some, but these I like:
Hero - Superchick
Bully – Shinedown
Make It Stop – Rise Against
Jumper – Third Eye Blind
Never Too Late – Three Days Grace
To Write Love On Her Arms – Between The Trees
The Call – Matt Kennon
Don’t Laugh At Me – Mark Wills
Everybody Hurts – R.E.M.
Don’t Jump – Tokio Hotel
How To Save A Life – The Fray
Savin’ Me – Nickelback
Jeremy – Pearl Jam
Hold On – Good Charlotte
Happy? - Mudvayne
Last Resort - Papa Roach

 Some might seem like odd choice, but it was bands like Linking Park, Papa Roach, Slipknot, and Marilyn Manson,that kept me going some days.  Hope they help you too.

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