A segment appeared on TV tonight about children being home schooled due to bullying. It prompted some debate between my father and I. I recounted a story I heard about someone now home schooling her child due to bullying, which continued to occur despite moving schools multiple times. My father then suggested it was the fault of the child, or else why would they continue to get bullied at all these different schools? I disagreed with this. “Sometimes a child just doesn’t fit in, or they’re quieter, or others just sense that a person is different so they bully them,” I said. He continued to push the point that the child should try to fit in and it may be the child’s fault for being bullied, particularly if the child is, say, rude or standoffish. Of course, I disagreed with him. There is no excuse for bullying and abusing someone and it is not the fault of the person being bullied.
In Year 7 I experienced bullying. Three students who used to be ‘friends’ turned on me. They would bitch about me and make it obvious, they would purposefully ignore me, they’d make remarks to each other about not wanting to sit next to or be near me, one would cough the word ‘Loser’ while she walked past me, they’d make digs and laugh about me to each other; all the sort of subtle yet viscous type of bullying that girls are more likely to engage in. Each day I’d dread coming to school and then go home to cry. I’d pray that they’d leave me alone and if a day went past with no incidents occurring, that would be classed as a ‘good’ day. I’d count down the weeks and days until graduation, with the knowledge that I’d never have to see them again the only thing keeping me going.
My parents’ response to this was to suggest that maybe I did something, maybe it was my attitude and I didn’t act a nice person towards them. My mother gave me an example of when this ex-friend and I were in the car, how a response I gave was rude and short with her. As a then 12 year old, it hurt not to receive sympathy and understanding, instead getting the suggestion that I may be to blame.
I’m glad I have the insight and knowledge now to dispute my father’s views about bullying. Because for goodness sake, it’s awful enough to be on the receiving end of bullying, let alone be blamed for it. I just regret that no one was around to tell 12 year old me that.