I was badly bullied throughout my school life because I walked differently to the other children.
The effects 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.
Angry adults may vent out their frustrations on a child; angry teacher adults perhaps in my case?
Apparently I was “very naughty” because I hated washing the back of my leg – the scar from my operation to lengthen my tendon and help me walk better was very tender so I hated ( and still do ) harsh abrasive scrubbing on it which often happened, leading to floods of tears ...
Perhaps the PE teacher had other reasons to make her cross that day who knows but here’s my “vault story”....
PE teacher punishes me for refusing to try the vault – aged 9
The whole of my class lined up to do the vault, and in those days’ letters to excuse you from certain physical activities cut no mustard or not in my case with the horrid PE teacher!
The last to try it and at the back of the queue, I actually recall vividly already being in floods of tears. When you have a physical disability which affects your balance you instinctively know your boundaries.
Things were not easy at home, my Mother was unwell so much was expected of me in my home life and I knew that if I hurt myself on the vault that the duties expected of me by Mother would not be able to get done, so I had the added pressure of those responsibilities too !
Barely able to stop shaking and my spasms, due to my cerebral palsy, working overtime with anxiety I found it hard to even walk to the designated starting point.
The children were laughing aloud, the teacher deploring me to obey her. I knew I couldn’t, and I could taste my salty tears.
So I walked around the vault instead, limping and crying all the time, and instead of consoling me, the teacher frog marched me to the head teacher’s office to receive my punishment. I was made to stand in the corner with my face against the wall and a clothes peg on my nose. Then as if she enjoyed the punishment, after what seemed like an hour, my leg was scrubbed by her AND the deputy head, so hard that it bled!
I would like to think that Teachers’ are more sympathetic to people these days, especially those of us with disabilities.
What I would like to say is that for any of you who read this, if a child is refusing to participate in a particular activity, be sure you know about their medical condition AND also any challenges the child may be facing at home too.
Family Lives says-“We know this case study shows the bad side of some teachers but this is about something that happened quite a while ago and is quite unusual. These days, teachers get extra information about how to deal with bullying and disabilities. Any teacher that acted like this now would get into trouble and no-one should feel that they have to put up with behaviour like this from someone else. If you are being bullied, you should always be able to tell a teacher – they will be able to help you. If you don't like the way they react to what you say, remember that you can always tell someone else who you trust. ”
There is more information on how to tell someone you are being bullied here- http://www.bullying.co.uk/advice/anti-bullying-advice