I was badly bullied throughout my school life because I walked differently to the other children.
The affects of bullying are life lasting which is why my series of blogs will look at how I coped from aged 6- 15 and hope that my experiences offer an invaluable insight for parents and carers to observe and address the tell tale signs of a victim of bullying.
Many things can lead to a child becoming a bully.
In times of economic restraints for example, teenagers might witness their parents arguing over money problems, jobs under threat etc and eavesdrop on their parents rows, safely huddled up, hiding on the stairs.
The teenager may have problems of their own and don’t feel that they can burden their already fraught parents with issues they have. They may vent their frustrations out on a younger sibling, who’s already tucked up in bed, and the next morning, while making their younger sister breakfast; decide to give them a Chinese burn. The younger sister, unlikely to retaliate, might think, as she’s rubbing her arm better, “who can I show what hurting feels like at break time today?”...
I’m different – aged 6
My lips were always sore; permanently chapped from biting my bottom lip, sometimes sucking it for extra comfort, if the school bullies were being especially nasty to me.
My thumb had an extra hard pad on it from biting and sucking it; always alone at break time, I remember first discovering the safe haven of the girls’ toilets where I would hide crying, slightly assured, by the flowery smell of which ever make of soap I’d washed with that morning; comforted by its scent while sucking my thumb.
I was six when the bullies started picking on me, goaded on, initially, because I was the new girl, a different new girl. I’d started late, at my new primary school due to a leg operation I’d needed to lengthen the tendons in my right leg. The heavy plaster cast made my already cumbersome walk, even harder, so if a teacher found me crying or sucking my thumb in the girls loos, back then there was less sympathy, and so I was made to go outside into the VERY scary playground.
Although nowadays pastoral care is very much the bedrock of schools’ infrastructure, if you are a teacher or dinner lady checking on waifs and strays, who should be in the playground, if you find a young child crying in the toilets, please do not assume that the tears they are shedding will be resolved by encouraging them to go outside and finding them some class friends to join in their games with because the minute you walk away, sweet Jane with the pigtails, the popular pretty girl, will be swayed by peer pressure to tease.
Jane could be the little sibling who at breakfast time was the victim of a Chinese burn!
In writing lesson, just after bell, Jane will be all sweetness and light to the little girl, who only ten minutes ago, she was teasing, and even let her young victim admire her fluffy pencil case; borrow her best coloured pencils! This will be her way of partly making up to the little girl, feelings of guilt, and partly wanting to maintain her reputation of being good Jane in front of her teacher.
Young children, even at six, are experts at illusions and deceit. So if a pair of children in your class, who do not usually interact well together, suddenly seem to be overtly friendly, pay attention to why the popular Jane, is now being so accommodating to the shy girl.
It’s due to my experiences at just six that I know, how unkind children can be at primary school age and why I’ve addressed this in my series of books, Dilly’s Dog’s Disguises.
“The effects of bullying are so long lasting, almost every day we hear about new forms of bullying in the media which is why I believe that it’s crucial to educate children about anti bullying as early as possible.” Emma Andrews”