Today we wrote an English exam. It was about globalization and social networks. It was pretty easy, but when I read the text we had to work with, I almost didn’t do it.
It was a text about the increase of cyber-bullying. It was all very tragic. Millions of young people in Britain have been cyber-bullied, apparently. Thousands every year.
The awful thing about cyber-bullying, they said, is that it doesn’t stop in the classroom. It follows you home.
This is all true, valid and horrible.
But they also said that the government is supporting programmes to prevent bullying from happening. These programmes provide experts and material to schools. Or they mentioned it might be a good idea to take the phones away from people who might be bullies.
I almost laughed.
Imagine the scenario of somebody standing in front of a class full of rebellious, individual minds, telling them what not to do. There will be students who agree that bullying is not a good thing, but those people might have never bullied anyone anyway. It’s like with sexual education. They tell you about when the girl is ready – as in wet – and still people don’t do it right. They tell you that it’s not funny when one girl has developed more quickly than the rest or more slowly. But most will still laugh and tease.
And materials? What kind of materials would they provide? You can teach a person all you like, but it’s finally his or her choice to use this knowledge.
Also, the article quoted Facebook who said that there was a report or block button if you didn’t feel comfortable.
Well, Facebook, let me tell you something about the mind of a victim of bullying.
When it’s happening, there is no pride left. The self-esteem level sinks to its lowest state and you don’t even realize that people are maltreating you. All you know is that it makes you feel awful and all you want is for it to stop.
They tell you to talk to your parents or teachers or click the block button on Facebook, but there’s a good reason why you would never do such a thing: You want it to be over and you would not dare stir up any more trouble. By consulting a teacher or a parent, you will be forced to face the problem and you’ll be reminded of all the embarrassment and depression you’ve been caused and you just feel ashamed of it. Why did it have to be you? Also, pressing that magical block or report button doesn’t help. If anybody found out, you fear, you’d just be subject to more humiliation “You’re too weak. You can’t deal with it.”
All you ever do during that time is to try to be strong, not sensible. You want to be strong, show that it does not affect you and then go home and cry about it. You can always cry somewhere else or hide the tears under your glasses. With cyber-bullying that is of course a lot harder.
I still can’t talk about it, really. I can write about it, but that’s something entirely different. I can write about anything. But when I talk about it, hear myself say it out loud, I tremble and I want to take it all back. I still feel ashamed, even though I “survived” it, even though it’s all over now and I have many friends and generally I am far more accepted.
My mother said I should have told her. I couldn’t. I still can’t. Today, I came home in a bad mood because of the article and my excuse was that I was tired. I couldn’t tell her: I read an article on bullying today and it upset me, because it felt like they were just talking nonsense.” Also, it seems that all of the sudden anti-bullying campaigns are the new trend.
Come on, hopp on to the train where we help kids feel better about themselves! It’s not like this has been happening for years already!
I agree with Liam Hackett – by the way you can read up on the article here: http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/home-news/more-than-a-million-british-youngsters-being-bullied-online-every-day-8852097.html – on the fact that others need to interfere.
When it was happening to me, there were a few, one or two, who stood up for me. The rest of those who didn’t actively bully anyone didn’t really help though either. They would sigh: “Oh, stop it.” and then go about their day. Sometimes they’d laugh about me and sometimes they just said nothing. As for the teachers, I don’t believe they had no idea about what was going on in our class, as many mean comments were dropped during the lesson, but they never said anything either.
Of course, I am not blaming them. I never told them. But then again – I couldn’t.
When I think or speak or write about that time I never like to call myself a victim. I was a victim of bullying, but I never showed it to anyone. Towards the outside I was strong enough. And I said I was a survivor. But what am I missing? A leg, an arm? A heart?
I make it sound like it was so dramatic, as if I’d been at war. I was not. But it still angers me when people assume a problem is so easy to tackle when they don’t even try to understand the psychology or the victim, not only the bully.