I’ve been thinking of the effects bullying has on children lately. I’ve been watching several documentaries on how deeply it scars them during their formative years. I’ve also been the victim of some pretty severe bullying myself, some would argue I’m still bullied daily in some form (the internet is FULL of bullies, huh?).
What’s also interesting (but not surprising) is that over the years, I’ve learned that many of
my bullies have also been the victim of bullying. It not only damages the child they’re bullying directly, but also often creates another bully that will terrorize others… a domino effect with no end in sight.
Violence begets violence, after all, whether it’s emotional or physical.
For me, growing up wasn’t fun. Not only did I have bullies at school harassing me because I wasn’t a size they found acceptable, I also lived with two bullies as well, my brother probably being the worst bully I’ve ever had to deal with.
What did this perfect storm create? A lost little girl afraid to come out of her room. A girl who not only didn’t like people, didn’t trust people, but a girl who was truly afraid of having to deal with anyone… because all she saw every day, all day long, was ugliness. I was being bullied daily and when I asked for help, I was told to “get over it”, “stop being a baby”, “it’s all part of growing up” – even when my brother slammed me on concrete, making me lose consciousness and suffer a concussion – even when a neighborhood kid threw a metal bat at my face (I still have the scar on my chin) – even when I would show up in class or come home with new scars on my hands and legs.
It was much more than kid stuff but I didn’t know that at the time. People kept telling me that it was normal, so I learned to accept it and eventually didn’t ask for help anymore, didn’t tell people about my day or why my nose was bleeding, why I had a black eye or why I was crying. It became part of the norm and most of the time, no one even asked.
When a kid is overwhelmed, outnumbered, and out-sized, standing up for oneself can often make things worse. I know it did for me. I tried for a while, I fought back HARD, but when I saw it didn’t help, I surrendered. I let it happen. I escaped into fantasy until it was over.
So what needs to happen?
What these bullies really need is to be told about the stories of kids lashing back dangerously, they need to be told about the suicides, they need to be told about what the bullied actually feel and go through. These bullies are simply pulling wings off insects, it doesn’t occur to them that what they’re doing can have a profound effect. We need to shove that in their faces, drown them in empathy. They need to see and feel the consequences of what they do.
I have no idea what I planned to accomplish by writing this, I don’t really feel any better, per se, I guess it was simply on my mind because I was “bullied” again recently, for reasons I was never able to ascertain. I guess there’s never really a reason.