My head was dunked down the school toilet for not shaving my legs. I got beaten to a pulp after school simply because someone didn’t like me. Every day contained threats and terror. The school bus was a nightmare. Bullying was the soundtrack to my childhood in school. To say I hated school doesn’t even come close.
When I met my husband (one of the nicest human beings you could ever meet), I was shocked to hear that he’d been relentlessly bullied in school. There was no question we’d home educate our children and spare them the pain of poisonous human beings (for as long as possible).
A year ago, our daughters decided to go to school. One of them did 2 years of A levels in 9 months (and is now studying music at university ~ and is ridiculously happy), and the younger one did two years of GCSEs in 9 months. She is now doing A levels. The older one had regular panic attacks because of the level of bullying she received, both at school and on the school bus.
My daughter loves her teachers ~ absolutely adores them. She’s studious and has a passion for many things, especially helping the downtrodden and the underdog. Oh the irony. Every day she is bullied. It’s constant. It’s relentless. But who is there speaking up for her? No one!
Online she’s had torment from a lot of boys both on Facebook (setting up group chats which include her…saying horrible things so she can see them, then removing her from it so she can’t see where the conversation goes); she’s had horrible abusive comments on her blog (she writes novels, and as a writer it is common to have a blog). When she reported this to the teacher in charge of student welfare, the reply was to ‘stop blogging, and go and eat some chocolate’. The mind boggles. How hard is it to put yourself in someone else’s shoes?
I am sickened to the core at the level and degree of bullying that occurs at a school which has a good Ofsted rating. Education isn’t just about what bloody King ruled or the syntax of something or anything else on the damn curriculum. It’s also about how we interact and relate with other people on this planet. In the end, that’s the most important thing of all.
You can’t make people like each other (there are plenty of people I don’t like), but there are ways to just go about your day without intruding on each other.
I always turn to writing when my mouth has trouble articulating the depth of emotion in me. My daughter―my beautiful, kind, loving daughter―is having gay porn written about her on a website by fellow students. As a parent, my vegetarian pacifist tendencies have all but disappeared and I want to shake those students until they see sense.
How do children (how does anyone) learn about balance, kindness and fairness if there are no consequences? How do we teach children about being accountable for their actions? What you sow, shall you reap. You don’t need to be a Christian to understand that this is the law of the Universe.
The world has so much beauty and brilliance, and there are such truly loving and kind people. Do we let those who don’t aspire to anything wonderful or joyous or wholesome ruin it for others? What right do they have to hold others to ransom?
In indigenous cultures, such as those mentioned in Jean Liedloff’s Continuum Concept, a tribe does not tolerate anti-social behaviour. Offenders are removed from the circle until they’re prepared to behave again. Perhaps if these horrid school children had been raised in-arms by loving and conscious parents they wouldn’t have the need to bully those who are unlike them.
If your child is being bullied, turn up at the school and make a noise. If the bullying is online, speak up about it. I know there is a common belief that kids should be left to ‘sort it out’ without adults intervening, but I don’t agree.
If you saw a teenager pouring petrol on another teen, and then throwing a match, would you stand back? Why is emotional/psychological petrol-pouring any different?
My daughter has one goal: to do well in A levels and get into Oxford or one of the top ten universities in the country. Surely she has the right to do that, and to enjoy these next two years.